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What is the definition of Aesthetic & Usability?

Aesthetic: To be concerned with beauty or the appreciation of Beauty.

UsabilityThe ease of use and learnability of a human-made object.

How can we measure Usability?:

  • Ease of Learning?
  • Efficiency of Use?
  • Memorability?
  • Error fréquence & Severity?
  • Subjective Satisfaction?

We are entering into a world where the aesthetic design of a product will ultimately measure it’s success. So, will Aesthetics and usability define the design process of any product? Regardless of it’s beauty through intelligence..

It is important to consider what market your product is entering into. If existing products within this same market are all visually appealing then your product may not be noticed. It is easy to perceive that the more attractive product is easier to use.

Here are some examples.



Figure 1. Aesthetic Usability Example (Source: Nokia, 2015)

“One of the first companies to realize that adoption of cellular phones required more than just basic communication features” (Lidwell, Holden & Butler, 2003)

All mobile devices come with a price including battery life issues, storage, signal loss and/ or interference. Bringing colors into the design, this product allows us to tolerate troubleshoots by creating a positive relationship between us and the product.


Figure 2. Aethetic Usability Example. (Source: BMW & Kia, 2015)

BMW X5 Vs Kia Sorrento

“Aesthetics and Car Design have been fused for many years. It’s what defines a car, it’s what gives a car it’s personality and importantly for the manufacturers, it’s what gives the car it’s competitive edge in the market place.” (Boulton, 2005)

All vehicles on the market will get us from A to B, are reasonably comfortable and require approximately the same amount of maintenance. Why choose a particular brand over another?

Take the BMW X5 for example. It’s “prettier” than the Kia Sorrento. It’s computer system is more complex & navigation around the dashboard system requires a lot more time and instruction than the Sorrento, which won “Best SUV” 2015. Kia is currently more reliable and cheaper than the BMW. So why does the BMW X5 sell better? It appears that we would prefer aesthetic over reliability and usability.


mac hp

Figure 3. Aesthetic Usability Example. (Source: MAC & HP, 2015)

Another example is: MAC and HP. According to CRN, HP was rated “best selling” computer on the market 2014 yet MAC is plastered all over our television and film screens. It does look pretty but does it cater to all the needs of your typical office worker? I myself find the MAC much easier to use for media projects and HP for business projects.


Barry, L. (2013). “The top 5 best selling desktops by brand.” Retrieved October 29, 2015, from http://www.crn.com/slide-shows/mobility/240157854/top-5-best-selling-desktops-by-brand.htm/pgno/0/5.

Boulton, M. (2005). “Aesthetic-usability effect.” Retrieved October 25, 2015, from http://www.markboulton.co.uk/journal/aesthetic-usability-effect.

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

Kundu, A. (2013). “Functionality vs. Aesthetics in design.” Social Technology Quarterly(08).