Reading 1 – Q1 Summary

The premise of the Aesthetic-Usabilty Effect is that when we perceive something, an object that serves a function, to be aesthetically pleasing we change the way we interact with the object in a positive way. If an object is visually appealing to us, it changes the way we think about using it. We admire its aesthetics and this puts us in a positive frame of mind when dealing with the object, which “may encourage creative thinking and problem solving” (Lidwell, W., Holden, K,. & Butler, J. (2003) Aesthetic‐Usability Effect. In Universal Principles of Design, pp. 18‐19).

When we perceive something to be well designed, we recognise the object as aesthetically pleasing and this can alleviate the stress of using the object, if ever there was any. As the reading states, “stress increases fatigue and reduces cognitive performance” (Lidwell, W., Holden, K,. & Butler, J. (2003) Aesthetic‐Usability Effect. In Universal Principles of Design, pp. 18‐19).

Aesthetics of an object determine whether or not the user deems the object to be easy to use. If we deem an object to be easy to use, we are encouraged to use the object and thus the aesthetics of an object are an important factor to consider, even if it looks as if the aesthetics serve no real function in the usability of the object.

Well designed aesthetics are supposed to help the user build a positive relationship with the object, so to speak, so that the user is primed to want to use the object. This changes the mentality of the user from being reluctant to thinking positively about using an object of beauty, which increases ease of use.

References

1. Tractinsky, N., Katz A.S., Ikar D., Interacting with Computers Volume 13, Issue 2, (2000), Pages 127–145.

2. Sonderegger, A., Sauer J., Applied Ergonomics, Volume 41, Issue 3 (2010), Pages 403–410.

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

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