Reading 3 – Q1 Summary

The article describes the idea of Performance Load, and breaks this concept into two aspects, Cognitive Load and Kinematic Load. It discusses the ways in which we can minimise the load of both these aspects, by using good and economical designs of our appliances and user interfaces. The article reasons that “the greater the effort to accomplish a task, the less likely the task will be accomplished successfully” (Lidwell, W., Holden, K., Butler, J., 2003, Performance Load, p148). The effort needed is a direct result of the amount of cognitive and kinematic activity that we are required to show in order to do a task, so if we can limit these loads, it is reasonable that we will have a higher success rate of completing tasks.

In the book Visible Learning and the Science of How We Learn, the authors state that “your mind can quickly become overwhelmed by the number of interactive informational units needing to be processed simultaneously for you to achieve understanding.” (Hattie, J., Yates, G. C. R., 2013, p148). This emphasises the importance of a clean and organised view when attempting to learn visually. The mind is a sponge for information and wants to take as much in as possible, and for this reason, if we try to consume too much information at anyone time we can hinder the learning process.



1. Sweller, J., Ayres, P., Kalyuga, S., Cognitive Load Theory, (2011), Springer.

2. Hattie, J., Yates, G. C. R., Visible Learning and the Science of How We Learn, (2013), Taylor and Francis.

3.Lidwell, W., Holden, K., & Butler, J. (2003). Performance Load. In Universal Principles of Design (pp. 148‐149). Massachusetts: Rockport.

Web Pages

The Mind Tools Editorial Team, Cognitive Load Theory, Accessed on the 23rd of May 2016 from

2.   Malamed, C., What is Cognitive Load?, Accessed on the 23rd of May 2016 from


Reading 2 – Q2 Examples

Wine Glasses


Wine glasses have a unique shape that when we see it, we instantly know what the object is for, even though the object has no different functionality than any other carrier of liquid, except being perhaps less stable. Wine glasses are a unique object in that they are designed to give off a look of beauty, with features such as the flat base, the elongated pillar that holds the actual container and the shape of the container, with its thin glass. This design is consistent across all wine glasses, and it could be seen as a case of aesthetic consistency, since the design does not really have any functional benefits.

Wine glasses are consistent in their unique design due to the way that drinking wine is seen as somewhat fashionable and classier than drinking a beer, say. The design aspects of the glass transmit this class and femininity to the viewer of the object, in the same way that a sturdy, big, thick beer mug would give off a masculine and blue collar aesthetic.



Plant-life has many consistent design aspects. Although plants are not man-made “products” per say, they are products of natural design that are obviously extremely functional in what they do. A consistent aspect of the design of plants is that almost all of them are green, or have a majority of green parts. This is due to their makeup and their ability to photosynthesise sunlight into fuel. It also helps fauna to identify them as plants.

We see a number of other consistent aspects of trees. The general shape of trees is consistent in that the leaves are what is seen on the outside, then going down we see the branches and eventually, below the ground, the roots which are designed to sap the water from the surrounding soil. I’d say that plant life uses many consistent design aspects that are very functional ones, and that are also aesthetic in the sense that we can determine what kind of tree or plant something is on the way it looks and its unique features.

Temperature and Colour


We see that the colour blue is associated with low, cold temperatures, and the colour red is associated with warm or hot temperatures. This is externally consistent across many systems, such as bath taps, temperature graphs, heater settings and so on. This is a very useful design function, because the colours are universally excepted to be associated with their alternate temperatures.

We associate these colours with these meanings because they are both found in nature. Ice, obviously a cold object, is blue. Fire, a created of heat, is often red. The consistency that these colour codes have when used is what makes them such an effective design tool.

Reading 2 – Q1 Summary

The article explains why the use of consistency in design can help humans interact with the designs in many ways. The use of consistency across designs and systems ensures that people using the design may transfer any applicable knowledge that they may have already acquired, which is useful due to the consistency of usable systems. The article goes on to define four distinct types of consistency found in design: Aesthetic, Functional, Internal and External.

Aesthetic Consistency is that of appearance, and design aspects that might not be considered strictly functional. A good example of this type of consistency in design is the use of the four rounded tail lights found on the back of a Nissan Skyline. These four circular tail lights have featured on Skylines for many consecutive models and eras and are a sure fire way for an admirer of the model to recognise the car and be familiar with it.

Functional Consistency is that of design aspects that have functional value. An example of this type of consistency in design is that of the Xbox controller. The Xbox controller has gone through three models, that do have differences in design and features, but the main features have been kept very consistent in their design. The D-Pad is always featured in the same spot, as is the two joy sticks, the triggers and the coloured buttons. This allows players to transfer the skills that they have acquired on previous consoles to the latest one.

Internal Consistency is that of features that are consistent within a closed system. An example of this is the buttons and functions of the Apple Mac running software. The consistency of the design aspects will not translate to running software developed by Microsoft. External Consistency is different in that the consistency is universal, and often found in nature.


1. Cole, D., Why Is Consistency Important In Design?, Quora, (2012). Accessed on the 23rd of May 2016 from

2. Toscano, J., The Value Of Consistent Design. Accessed on the 23rd of May 2016 from

Reading 1 – Q2 Examples

Subaru BRZ


The Subaru BRZ meets the aesthetic-usability effect principle by using some design techniques that may be perceived as both aesthetic and practical. The car is fairly low, meaning it has a low centre of gravity. This gives the car a better chance to not roll over, a better ability to take sharp corners and a more aero-dynamic foil, but it also makes the car look faster and more economical.

The car is fairly minimalistic in design, with only two doors. There are no added contraptions to be seen on the outside of the car body that may be perceived as hard to use or questionable. The outside of the car is simple, sleek and looking like it does what it is meant to do well.

Macbook Pro

Macbook Pro Retina 15inch. Photo: Josh Valcarcel

The Macbook Pro is a very aesthetic laptop computer that looks very minimalistic and self-explanatory in the way a user would want it to function and how it looks like it functions. The keypad is designed in a way that all of the buttons needed fit in a unified rectangle, which looks very organised and welcoming. There are no randomly placed buttons that one might find on the keyboard of a different computer, and the size ratios of all its hard where features are well thought out.

Xbox One Controller


The Xbox One controller is designed mostly for ease of use, practicality and feel for the user. The controller is very aesthetic though, in the way it uses the ratio of the size of its buttons to the size and shape of the controller. It is very easy to understand the way the controller is meant to be used  by the way it looks and its layout. The left hand grips the left part of the controller and the predominantly uses the d-pad and the joy stick. The right side is for the right stick and the coloured buttons. All in all, the controller looks very well thought out and organised. The well designed “X” button in the centre of the controller gives the product identity and character also.

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.


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.