learning portfolio 1 – Q2

Q2. Examples of the Aesthetic-Usability Principle

Tefal Electric Grater

This Tefal Electric Grater is a great example of the aesthetic-usability principle.  The main shape of the grater is a curved, energetic and visually pleasing design reminiscent of the current trend for brightly coloured, “vintage” European-style kitchen appliances, although it is constructed in plastic (likely to keep it in a modest price range). These are both deliberate design choices, as the curved shape is appealing to look at, whilst the use of plastic suggests practicality and sturdiness for everyday use.

grater resized

The colour scheme is clean and fresh, with the main device in red and white. The individual grater pieces are colour coded, with red and orange for grating, green for slicing, and yellow for cheese grating. The colour coding of the graters is explained in an infographic on the side of the appliance.  The simple infographic suggests that that is all the consumer needs to know about using the appliance – its operation is that simple.

Before use the design of the grater suggests ease of use and simplicity. In actuality the grater requires quite a bit of brute strength to use, and whilst it may be faster than a manual grater it is not physically easier. The product would be completely unsuitable for older or physically disabled people. But the design suggests otherwise, coming across on first look as compact and easy to use.

grater smaller up close


English Tea Shop Teas

These English Tea Shop teas are designed to be viewed as a luxury treat that will add a certain joie-de-vivre, as well as health benefits to the consumer’s day. They are priced more highly than mid-range brands like Twinnings, and use only organic ingredients, and the price mark is reflected in the level of branding design.  The branding is cheerful, pretty and feminine, in order to appeal to health-conscious women.  Each tea type has its own design theme that is individual but in keeping with the brand’s style.

tea resized

The blends “Happy Me” and “Energise Me” both show figures of people jumping and posing energetically, suggesting that drinking the tea is healthy and will bring vitality to the drinker.  Meanwhile the “Japanese Green Sencha” and “Apple Rosehip Raspberry Ripple” tea show a tea pot bursting with tea leaves, fruit and flowers.  All of the teas have floral/leaf designs and the “organic” feature is heavily emphasized and repeated.  I believe the design achieves the aesthetic-usability principle in that they strongly advertise that the English Tea Shop teas are a) high in quality, and b) going to produce an uplifting effect on consumption.

Coke Zero Can

coke zero smaller.jpg

The red and white coca-cola logo is ubiquitious, and carries with it a certain respectability and promise of ‘quality’.  Coke remains enormously popular, despite how unhealthy it is, and rather than quality it is in fact very cheap to manufacture.  I think a great deal of its continued popularity is due to great design.  The logo, now iconic, is very aesthetically pleasing, and attracts consumers.

The Coke Zero formula is marketed at young men (http://www.cokesolutions.com/OurProducts/Pages/Site%20Pages/ProductDetails.aspx?ItemID=308&L2=Soft%20Drinks&ItemTitle=Coca-Cola+Zero%E2%84%A2), and to reflect this they have chosen bold, strong black as the background colour.  Even though it is a diet drink, in order to appeal to its target audience it has to suggest a certain heartiness or substantial quality to the drink, which is why they have chosen the black.  I believe they have chosen to do this as men are less likely to be interested in drinking or eating diet products unless they taste good (compared to women), and I think also less likely to admit being worried about their calorie intake enough to choose a diet option.  So the black background and bold choice of colours somewhat masculinizes the drink, and that is a very deliberate design choice.  I think that Coca Cola have been very successful in their design choices for the Zero brand, and the design is a great example of the aesthetic-usability effect.  The packaging suggests a bold, full flavoured drink, which attracts consumers male and female.

learning portfolio part 1 – Q1

Q1. Aesthetics and Usability

In Universal Principles of Design, Lidwell, Holden and Butler introduce research indicating that people perceive “more aesthetic designs as easier to use than less-aesthetic designs – whether they are or not” (2003, p. 18).  This aesthetic-usability effect, as it is commonly known, is tied into the emotion of design.  People form emotional associations with designs, and a visually pleasing design is more likely to attract a positive emotional response.  The reason why more aesthetic designs may be perceived as more usable is speculated to be tied to the ‘halo effect’, that is, the idea that people’s opinions of a person or object can be influenced by them noticing a positive, prominent characteristic of the person or object (van Gorp & Adams, 2012, p. 404).  This is supported by social psychology research that shows attractive people are perceived to have good qualities.  In design, this leads to people inferring that visually-pleasing designs must work better.  Further, this preconception that  the visually appealing product is easier to use sets the stage for a more positive working relationship between the user and product, making “difficult tasks easier to perform” and encouraging users to be “more tolerant of minor difficulties and more flexible” (Masmoudi, Yun Dai, & Naceur, 2012, p. 188).  For example, in a study researching user interaction with technology, psychologists found that “while effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction are definitely important determinants of human–technology interaction, other aspects, such as the aesthetics of system design and emotional experiences during system usage, certainly impact on the perceived quality of use as well” (Thüring & Mahlke, 2007, p. 254).  It is argued that many successful products are embraced because they manage to “satisfy the emotional needs that were most important for their context of use” (Sonderegger & Sauer, 2010, p. 18).  Therefore there is a strong basis for designing aesthetically pleasing products. They are more likely to be perceived as usable, and more easily forgiven when they are not.


Lidwell, W., Holden, K., & Butler, J. (2003). Universal Principles of Design.

Masmoudi, S., Yun Dai, D., & Naceur, A. (2012). Attention, Representation, and Human Performance : Integration of Cognition, Emotion, and Motivation. London: Taylor and Francis.  Retrieved from http://ECU.eblib.com.au/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p=957267

Sonderegger, A., & Sauer, J. (2010). The influence of design aesthetics in usability testing: Effects on user performance and perceived usability. Applied Ergonomics, 41(3), 403-410.  doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.apergo.2009.09.002

Thüring, M., & Mahlke, S. (2007). Usability, aesthetics and emotions in human-technology interaction. International Journal of Psychology, 42(4), 253-264.  doi: 10.1080/00207590701396674

van Gorp, T., & Adams, E. (2012). Chapter 1 – Why Design for Emotion? Design for Emotion (pp. 1-18). Boston: Morgan Kaufmann. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-386531-1.00001-6