General Question

dxavier's avatar

Does an attractive design increase its usability?

Asked by dxavier (35points) May 18th, 2013

I’m researching how awesomely designed products/websites/homes/food etc. affects usability and peoples feelings towards the thing.

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8 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

I would eliminate foods from your question; I have trouble imagining what “awesomely designed food is.”

Certainly, if most people have the choice between two equally functioning objects and one is handsome, they will pick the latter.

There are many museums of design across the country. Here’s the one in Atlanta.

Check out some of the exhibits; chairs, motorcycles, skateboards, quilts, bathrooms for starters.

And here’s an award-winning teapot

Some of the award-winning designs at the Design Museum in London.

And here’s the jackpot for award-winning designs in 2013

jerv's avatar

It really depends. Attractive for some is ugly to others, and what some consider “usable”, others consider intolerable or worse. For instance, some say Apple products are sexy and easy to use, but I find them on aesthetically average and unable to perform necessary tasks because of the vital features it not only lacks, but deliberately locks you from adding. Similarly, many consider an automatic transmission to be better than stick because it’s easier, but I find the lack of control annoying most times, and occasionally life-threatening.

My point is that you really cannot satisfy everyone, and whatever increases usability for some decreases it for others. I also find that many times, the things that perform best are ugly; look at the ‘84–87 Corolla.

gailcalled's avatar

PS. MY favorite; an award-winning dog bed.

filmfann's avatar

I have seen some amazingly attractive video games that were completely unplayable because the designers didn’t keep it simple enough. So, no.

majorrich's avatar

From my experience, product design is almost always a battle between engineering and designers.

rexacoracofalipitorius's avatar


Usability is many things, and some of those things are objectively measurable. For example, it’s possible to set users a task involving the designed object and time the completion of the task. Over large samples of users and repeated for different iterations, this data can indicate whether some features are more usable than others. There are lots of objective ways to measure aspects of usability.
On the other hand, there is no objective way to measure beauty or attractiveness, and lots of people will disagree on the attractiveness of any given object. It’s still a worthwhile goal, and features that enhance the attractiveness of an item may also enhance its usability, but attractive designs don’t increase usability in themselves- unless attraction is the use case.

Sunny2's avatar

Of course not. It adds a pleasing look to a machine which functions efficiently. Granted people differ in their tastes as to what is attractive, but there are some standards of good design to follow. Design which interferes with function is stupid design.

dabbler's avatar

I think good design is absolutely necessary for usability.
Anything that “looks good” but doesn’t work well is junk if you ask me.

One of the best designs I’ve run across is very practical. The tank on my humidifier has a pleasant crescent shape. It does not look like a box of water. There are a couple of unobtrusive wings recessed into the top that make it very easy to pick it up. There is also a substantial handle on the bottom. When it’s full it is very easy to hold, cradle, and carry in several ways. Best humidifier ever !

The Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt Museum is always fun for me because they have some great examples of highly functional pieces that are also beautiful.

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