Chroma Experience


The aesthetics usability effect.

An aesthetically appealing user interface can influence usability. It not only helps to evoke a positive and emotional response, but also supports cognitive abilities. Aesthetics can enhance usability and help create an emotional connection.

Flatlay mit Laptop, Tastatur, Handy, Notizblock und Stift

The phenomenon

People tend to attribute better functionality to better-looking things - even if they do not outperform objectively comparable, less aesthetic products in terms of efficiency. This happens because an aesthetic design evokes a positive perception among users, leading them to believe that this design actually works better. The phenomenon is known as the aesthetics usability effect or law of beauty. We humans automatically determine whether something is beautiful when we first see it through firmly established perceptual processes. Our perception of digital user interfaces also follows this law - here, too, the first impression plays an essential role.


The influence of aesthetics on usability in the context of computer-human interaction was first studied in 1995. Researchers Masaaki Kurosu and Kaori Kashimura tested 26 variations of the ATM user interface and asked 252 participants to rate each option on functionality and on aesthetics. The results showed that impressions of usability were strongly influenced by the perceived attractiveness of the user interface, although the focus was on the functionality of the system.

Usability tests

During a usability test it is important that the moderator identifies the aesthetics usability effect in time and then interprets it correctly. Otherwise, there is a risk of not being able to correctly identify the usability gaps. So, let's say a test user has difficulty completing a particular task, but in the final feedback he or she makes a subtle comment about the visual appeal of the user interface, the test result may be called into question.

In other words: When the design is visually appealing, it elicits a positive emotional response from users and they react more tolerantly to usability problems. This effect is potentiated when the aesthetics match the content of an application or web page and its usability.