Aesthetics and Usability

Aesthetics and Usability, is a paper by Kiana K. Matthews, University of Colorado at Boulder that proposes that Usability professionals should understand aspects of aesthetics. Sounds refreshing doesn't it?

    A well designed artifact is by definition a pleasure to use, an ill-designed one awkward and annoying, a cognitive pea under the mattress, diluting our concentration. Aesthetic connotations, moreover, are inevitable: there is no such thing as 'neutral' design".

    In this paper, I will discuss the relationship between aesthetics and usability with respect to user interface design as well as specific techniques to insure an aesthetically pleasing design. First I will discuss the concept of aesthetics in general and the role it should play in the human-computer interaction (HCI) discipline. Next I will discuss, at length, various components that make up an aesthetic design and the guidelines for using them. These components are color, typography, icons, layout, and economy of visuals. Then, I will evaluate two applications based upon these components and guidelines. One application is software based, the web site for Schwinn Cycling and Fitness, and the other is hardware based, an automatic teller machine (ATM). Finally I will draw conclusions about the role of aesthetics in usability and conclude the paper.

thanks Xplane, Xblog