Aesthetic-Usability Effect Question 2

Apple Mac.

Realistically, any of Apple’s products could be used to talk about the aesthetic-usability effect principle. They are by nature, aesthetically appealing and intuitively designed to the point where babies and animals can use their products. Specifically, the Mac desktop computer is chiefly used in the design world by creative types and heralded as the be all and end all of technological tools. The fact that they are “sexy” and nice to look at has helped them garner a stronghold whether or not they are easier to use than PC’s or not (Lidwell, Holden & Butler, 2003).

Apple Mac

Apple Mac (Murray, 2017)


BIC 4 Colour Grip Retractable Ballpoint Pen.

While the humble pen is often overlooked or not even thought about, it is still an example of the aesthetic-usability effect. Especially in the case of the BIC 4 colour grip retractable ballpoint pen. Everyone that has ever used a pen for an extended period of time knows how nice the feel of a good one is. The grip along with the combining four colours in one location is a perfect example instilling positive feelings toward a product. However, in this case the practical and aesthetic nature of such a product aren’t far away from each other.

Bic Pen

BIC 4 Colour Grip Retractable Ballpoint Pen (Murray, 2017)


BIC Classic Lighter

The humble lighter might well be one of the most useful little tools and also the most lost product in production. While there isn’t much to compare it to in terms of its use but lighting a fire with flint and wood pales in comparison to its efficiency. It certainly looks easier to use, feels easier to use and fosters positive feelings towards it in the user compared to lighting something any other way thus satisfying the aesthetic-usability effect principle (Lidwell, et al., 2003).

Bic Lighter

BIC Classic Lighter (Murray, 2017)


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

Murray, D. (2017). CCA1108 Communications and digital technology. Perth, Australia: Edith Cowan University


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