Aesthetic-Usability Effect

People who use Apple computers (like myself) love how easy they are to use compared to PCs. But, are they really more usable? They probably are, but Apple products are beautiful; It turns out that humans perceive products to be more usable when they are beautiful. People have a natural bias to favor attractive things. When more attention is given to the aesthetic quality of a product, we perceive the product so to be easier to use whether or not they actually are. Things that are pleasing to look at are more likely to be used because we create positive attitudes towards them. We are more forgiving of faults when the product is  beautiful. Positive attitudes make faults more bearable in our minds which in reality makes the whole user experience more pleasant. This is a great example of how perception creates reality.

Beautiful products even affect behavior. When aesthetic design creates positive attitudes, creative thinking and problem solving capability are stimulated. When people have negative attitudes toward products (such as I do toward PCs), interaction stifles creativity, narrows thinking, and reduces overall cognitive performance—especially in a stressful work environment.

TAKE-HOME LESSONS

For business: Hire more designers and make beautiful products and services. Your customers will have better experiences and be more loyal because of it.

For home: Make your home beautiful to live in. You will be less stressed and more creative. And buy Apple products.

Read Universal Principles of Design, Revised and Updated: 125 Ways to Enhance Usability, Influence Perception, Increase Appeal, Make Better Design Decisions, and Teach through Design and Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things for more information about this subject.