Aesthetics overrides usability? Studied by Dr.Suk

Dr.Suk co-authored an article entitled, “The Influence of an Aesthetically Appealing Product on the Using Time, Flow, and Recall Memory [제품의 심미성이 제품의 사용시간, 몰입도, 정보 기억도에 미치는 영향]” in the Korean Journal of the Science of Emotion & Sensibility. The first author, Jae-Hwa Lee wrote up this article based on his term project of Dr.Suk’s class, Research Methodology. This study investigated whether aesthetic aspect of a product is more dominant and therefore influences on the usability. It focused on the users’ usage time, recall rate of product information and flow to measure the influence.


Three experiments were carried out in order to determine whether users have longer using time, better recall of product information, and flow in an aesthetically appealing product (media player) in products offering good usability. For the experiment, fourteen emotional words were employed which were made up of 8 aesthetic and 6 usability words. In a preliminary experiment, the subjects freely used three media players and selected emotional words by a 7-point likert scale to distinguish a group of similar usability value and another group contrary to the other in aesthetic and usability value. (N=18) In the main experiment, it was hypothesized that users use more and have more flow and recalled information in the case of the aesthetically appealing product. Therefore, in the main experiment, we measured how much time subjects spent using the product and asked them to make an assumption regarding the time spent by the group that has the same usability value. We then examined the time they spent and the gap between the actual and estimated time. We also calculated the amount of menu information recalled via a questionnaire. In the last experiment, we selected the group of products contrary to each other in aesthetic and usability value and assessed the differences in using time, recall of product information, and flow. (N=18) The empirical results provide evidence that aesthetically appealing products are associated with greater flow and recall of product information than other products, thus supporting the hypothesis. In addition, it was found that there is a positive correlation between the aesthetically appealing product and flow index as well as with recalled information.

Full text in the Korean Journal of Science of Emotion and Sensibility