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Universal Principles of Design, Revised and Updated by Jill Butler, Kritina Holden, William Lidwell

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Aesthetic-Usability Effect

Aesthetic designs are perceived as easier to use than less-aesthetic designs.1

The aesthetic-usability effect describes a phenomenon in which people perceive more-aesthetic designs as easier to use than less-aesthetic designs—whether they are or not. The effect has been observed in several experiments, and has significant implications regarding the acceptance, use, and performance of a design.2

Aesthetic designs look easier to use and have a higher probability of being used, whether or not they actually are easier to use. More usable but less-aesthetic designs may suffer a lack of acceptance that renders issues of usability moot. These perceptions bias subsequent interactions and are resistant to change. For example, ...

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