Beauty in the eye of the user?


If we are going around an art gallery we are often aware that we are evaluating the aesthetic appeal of the artworks.  What we may be less aware of is that when we are interacting with computers, websites, and applications on our mobile phones the aesthetic appeal of the interfaces we are using matters too.  Appeal can make interfaces easier to use and certainly makes our interactions more enjoyable.

Angela Gosling and Siné McDougall (Psychology, Faculty of Science) recently received Fusion Funding to support a collaborative network with colleagues in at Fribourg in Switzerland and Swansea University to find out more about the role of aesthetic evaluations in human-computer interaction.  We want to examine how we make decisions about the appeal and usability of an interface.  These ‘decisions’ start when we unconsciously respond to interface appeal within the first few milliseconds that we encounter an interface and continue through to habitual everyday use.  By investigating these processes we will develop a better understanding of how interface appeal influences user performance and lead to better interface optimisation.  Our Fusion Funding is going to support our collaboration while we prepare grant proposals to take this work forward.