Do “attractive things work better”? An exploration of search tool visualisations

Chawda, Bejal; Craft, Brock; Cairns, Paul; Heesch, Daniel and Rüger, Stefan (2005). Do “attractive things work better”? An exploration of search tool visualisations. In: 19th British HCI Group Annual Conference: The Bigger Picture, 5-9 Sep 2005, Edinburgh, UK, pp. 46–51.


A study was conducted to explore associations that may exist between user perceptions of aesthetics and usability in an attempt to validate Norman’s assertion that “attractive things work better”. Participants were run in a semi between-subjects design study. Judgements for aesthetics and usability were elicited prior to and after each test run with a record kept of performance. Pre-use and post-use measures indicated strong relations between judgements of aesthetics and usability, but an association was not found between aesthetics and performance, leading us to conclude that “attractive things are perceived to work better” though attractive systems may not work any better than unattractive systems. These results resemble past research and partly support the work of Norman proposing that valued aesthetics lead to a positive affective response, which opens the mind to creative thinking altering judgements made but not actual behaviour. The findings stress the importance of aesthetics in HCI and design, as an influential factor on perceptions of usability, which in turn influence higher order decisions.

Viewing alternatives

Download history

Item Actions