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28 May / Key Element 2 of the Successful User Experience – Aesthetics

Author: Todd Boppell
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Second in a five-part series examining each of the 5 Key Elements of the User Experience as we define them at Meshfrog.

If you have not yet read about our desire to “Redefine the User Experience”, and how that informs our approach to everything we do, you can do so [here].

Element 2 – Aesthetics

Perhaps nothing has made the case for beauty and elegance as a critical element in the user experience quite so well or so forcefully as the success of Apple in the past 10 years.  Apple has taught much of the technology world that beauty and design excellence can inspire legions of fans while also commanding premium prices.

While Apple may be an extreme or unusual example, we believe that all users, in all situations, prefer beauty and attractive deign as an element of their experience, especially when presented with the option of choosing between two experiences that are essentially equal except for their aesthetics.

How do Aesthetics show up in a user experience?  Some of the ways are rather subjective and yet very compelling.  Interfaces, products, settings, or materials that are Beautiful, Refreshing, and Delightful will leave a lasting positive impression.  Of course we need to keep in mind the context and the meaning that we are conveying – so for instance what is beautiful in a Day Spa may be quite different from beautiful in a Bait and Tackle Shop!  But when expressed appropriately, and in a way that conveys thoughtful effort, then aesthetics can greatly enhance the perception and memory of an experience.

Beyond the basic attractive beauty, achieving aesthetics that include Minimalism, Clarity, and Exposed or Deconstructed Features or Elements is a complimentary approach to the transparency and resonance of the meaning as described in the previous post.  Beauty and simplicity contribute to the ease and immediacy with which the user can detect and perceive the meaning and context of an experience.

After the foundation of meaning is established, strive for beauty, clarity, and simplicity in the user experience – whether the experience is overtly visual or even auditory or procedural – and the efforts invested in meaning will be reinforced and improved when supported by powerful aesthetics.

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