Chapter 7. Aesthetic–Usability Effect

Users often perceive aesthetically pleasing design as design that’s more usable.


As designers, we understand that our work is about more than just how something looks; it’s also about how it works. That’s not to say good design can’t also be attractive design. In fact, an aesthetically pleasing design can influence usability. Not only does it create a positive emotional response, but it also enhances our cognitive abilities, increases the perception of usability, and extends credibility. In other words, an aesthetically pleasing design creates a positive response in people’s brains and leads them to believe the design actually works better1—a phenomenon known as the aesthetic–usability effect. We use automatic cognitive processing to determine at a visceral level if something is beautiful very quickly upon first seeing it, and this extends to digital interfaces as well. First impressions do matter.

In this chapter, we’ll explore the origins ...

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