Aesthetic-Usability Effect Question 1

This article focusses on the paradigm that if a product is aesthetically pleasing, it is more likely to be used and generate positive feelings towards it regardless of its inherent usability.  Lidwell, Holden and Butler (2003) posit that aesthetic designs are more likely to be used and in turn can create positive reactions to them which can affect the long term usability and ultimately, the success of a product. While this may be true in some cases, the article fails to take into account differing target audiences. Some users care absolutely nothing about the product aesthetics and place all their value of a said product in its effectiveness at completing the task it was designed to complete. People in purely technical industries like engineers designing production machines need a job to be done quickly and efficiently, the aesthetics are the last thing to think about.

However, if a negative feedback relationship is formed with a product due to its lack of aesthetic appeal this tends to reduce its usability. So it is argued that the aesthetic aspect of a design counts for a great deal when it comes to its performance (Kurosu & Kashimura, 1995).  If the design develops negative feelings to itself through way of poor aesthetic quality, under strenuous conditions this negative reaction can facilitate cognitive performance (Norman, 2002). We tend to form an impression of a product upon first interaction which usually lasts longer than it logically should even when we learn more about it. Asch (1946) did work on how we perceive and treat someone based solely on a first encounter or impression and Lidwell et al. (2003) draws connections between this concept and the so called aesthetic usability effect.

“Aesthetic designs are perceived as easier to use than less-aesthetic designs” (Lidwell, et al., 2003, p. 18). It would seem this perception rings true for the general majority of end users but not so true when it comes to the very technical results orientated user.


Kuroso, M. & Kasimura, K. (1995). Apparent useability vs. inherent usability:                                             Experimental analysis on the determinants of the apparent usability. Chicago Conference               Proceedings (pp. 292-293). Tokyo, Japan: Hitachi Ltd.

Lidwell, W., Holden, K. & Butler, J. (2003). Aesthtic-Usability Effect. In Universal Principles of     Design (pp.18-19). Beverly, Massachusetts: Rockport

Norman, D. (2002). Emothing and design: Attractive things work better. Retrieved from

Asch, S. (1946). Forming impressions of personality. Journal of Abnormal and Social                    Psychology, 41(3), 258-290. doi:10.1037/h0055756