Learning Portfolio 1 – Aesthetic-Usability Effect

Learning Portfolio Item 1 (Critical Reading & Writing)

Question 1

The Aesthetic-Usability Effect is the phenomenon that describes how time and time again users identify with more aesthetically pleasing designs to be easier to use than less aesthetically pleasing designs. What this means is that users are more tolerant of faults and failures if a design is aesthetically pleasing, leading them to believe that the better looking option is the better option overall. It doesn’t matter if they are easier to use or not they are perceived that way so users will make subconscious decisions and overlook many difficulties that the product/design may have.

The authors (Lidwell, Holden and Butler) make several points about the aesthetic-usability effect in their book the Universal-Usability Effect
Their points are as followers:

  1. If a product appears aesthetically pleasing to the user it is more likely to be used.
  2. If a product is aesthetically pleasing faults in the product are more likely to be over looked or ignored.
  3. If an object is beautiful it is likely that people will develop a positive relationship with it which helps create creativity.

For example if a 40 year old woman is looking at buying an Mac book pro and the sales assistant suggests an Alienware laptop which has astoundingly better specs, the customer will very often still choose the Ipad because it is the more familiar product and it is easier to navigate. In most cases consumers will choose brand, design and familiarity over usability and practicality.

“Positive relationships with a design result in an interaction that helps catalyse creative thinking and problem solving. Negative relationships result in an interaction that narrows thinking and stifles creativity” (Lidwell, 2010).

Take the Website Reddit for example; many people who visit the website are deterred by the design and layout of the website because it is “ugly” and confusing to navigate. Some users stick to the app because it is easier to navigate and nicer to look but by using the app they miss out on major amounts of content. Many people who visit the website are bound to leave it straight away and go to prettier and easier to navigate page such as Buzzfeed.

The aesthetic-usability effect concludes that more aesthetic designs appear easier to use regardless of whether they are or not.


Learning Portfolio Item 2 (Activity)



Nike Free Run Sneakers


Nike Free Run Sneakers are a perfect example for the aesthetic-usability effect principal. They have quickly become must haves among fitness freaks for sneakers and the general public as a fashion statement.  Because they have become so popular a huge of colours are now available so the choices are never ending. The special and unique design of their sneakers makes them desirable to every demographic. They may not have as much support as other sneakers but that is the style of the sneaker, they can also be a bit pricey but of course you are paying for the brand when it comes to Nike.


Macbook Pro


Apple devices are world renowned products, with both simplicity and consistency in their products. They are known for being lightweight, aesthetically pleasing and for their sharp looks. Macbooks have been extremely successful over the past 10 years because of their high quality and high, technical advances and their sleek appearance.  Macs have become so popular people are willing to fork over $1600 just to have this pretty piece of technology. I’m sure everyone knows at least one person who has bought a Mac purely because of its look and the status it holds in today’s society, when they know nothing about them. It can take a while to become accustom to Apples operating system so Apple lets the amazing looks of the laptop carry the slack.




The 2DS was made few years after the 3DS as a cheaper and more affordable option primarily marketed at kids. My little cousin has been saving for a 3DS for a while, he had enough money for a 2DS and when I aksed him “why not get the 2DS?
His answer was “It’s Ugly”.
And that’s fair enough it is not nearly as good looking as its predecessor.
The 3DS is far more convenient as you can put it in you pocket and it feel much nicer in your hand than the 2DS. The 2DS also feel “cheap” and not nearly as sturdy and heavy duty as the 3DS.
Even though they can do exactly the same things, people are still willing to pay that little bit more for the better looking option.



Boulton, M. (2005). Aesthetic-Usability Effect Retrieved from http://www.markboulton.co.uk/journal/comments/aesthetic-usability-effect

Towers, A (2010, March 30). Aesthetic Usability Effect. [Blog Post]. Retrieved from


Laura. (2013, November 11). The Aesthetic Usability Effect – It’s Design Magic. [Blog Post]

Retrieved from http://usabilityfriction.com/2010/03/30/aesthetic-usability-effect/

Lidwell, W., Holden, K., & Butler, J. (2010). Universal Principles of Design, Revised and Updated: 125 Ways to Enhance Usability, Influence Perception, Increase Appeal, Make Better Design Decisions, and Teach through Design (ed.). : Rockport Publishers.


Nike-Free-Run-2-Sneakers-01.jpg (n.d) [Digital Image] Retrieved 26 May, 2014,
From http://www.highsnobiety.com/news/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Nike-Free-Run-2-Sneakers-01.jpg


131030_macbookpro_15_01.jpg (n.d) [Digital Image] Retrieved 26 May, 2014
From http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/gadgetlab/2014/01/131030_macbookpro_15_01.jpg


3ds-family111.jpg (n.d) [Digital Image] Retrieved 26 May, 2014
From http://twinstickgaming.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/3ds-family111.png



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