The science behind the LEMtool

Usability, visual appeal and emotion

Optimizing usability is the basis for every great user experience. Apart from the actual usability of a website, there is also the usability as perceived by the user. Several studies indicate a strong relation between perceived usability and the visual appeal of a website (“attractive things appear to work better”). This seems to suggest that the main purpose of visual design in any interface, is a functional one, aimed at improving usability.

Emotion is therefore a vital additional dimension to current usability studies.

Indeed, efficient and effective communication with the user through the appropriate visual design of an interface, is a goal most designers seek to accomplish. Nonetheless, visual appeal is not purely perceived as functional.

Research has indicated that there are attributes in an interface that do not necessarily relate to usability, but to the pleasure that a high visual appeal interface might evoke in its users.

What links visual appeal to affect (and emotion) is that objects are not only categorized based on perceived features of the object, but can also be emotionally categorized. This means that objects that evoke similar emotions can be categorized based on the similarity of these emotions.

Emotion is therefore a vital additional dimension to current usability studies.

 

References

Huisman, G. (2011). Visual Appeal and Affect in Websites. Unpublished master’s thesis, University of Twente, Enschede, the Netherlands.

Hout, M. (2003). Interactive Products and User Emotions. Unpublished master;s thesis, University of Twente, Enschede, the Netherlands

Capota, K, Hout, M., van & Geest, T.M., van der (2007). Measuring the Emotional Impact of Websites. A Study Combining a Dimensional and Discrete Emotion Approach in Measuring Visual Appeal of University Websites. In Designing Pleasurable Products and Interfaces Conference. 2007 . Helsinki.

Huisman, G. (2009). LEMtool – Visual Emotion Measurement in Digital Media. Unpublished bachelor’s thesis, University of Twente, Enschede, the Netherlands.