In Human-Computer Interaction research, the positive effect of aesthetics on users' subjective impressions and reactions is well-accepted. However, results regarding the influence of interface aesthetics on a user's individual performance as an objective outcome are very mixed, yet of urgent interest due to the proceeding of digitalization. In this web-based experiment (N = 331), the effect of interface aesthetics on individual performance considering three different types of tasks (search, creative, and transfer tasks) is investigated. The tasks were presented on an either aesthetic or unaesthetic website, which differed significantly in subjective aesthetics. Goal orientation (learning versus performance goals) was included as a possible moderator variable, which was manipulated by using different task instructions. Both aesthetics and goal orientation were a between-subject factor, leading to a 2 x 2 between subject design. Manipulation checks were highly significant. Yet the results show neither significant main effects of aesthetics and goal orientation on performance regarding both accuracy and response times in each of the three tasks, nor significant interaction effects. Nevertheless, from a practical perspective aesthetics still should be considered due to its positive effects on subjective perceptions of users, even as no substantial effects on user performance occurred in the present experiment.
Original Publication Citation
Thielsch, M. T., Haines, R., & Flacke, L. (2019). Experimental investigation on the effects of website aesthetics on user performance in different virtual tasks. PeerJ, 7, e6516, 1-27. doi:10.7717/peerj.6516
Thielsch, Meinald T.; Haines, Russell; and Flacke, Leonie, "Experimental Investigation on the Effects of Website Aesthetics on User Performance in Different Virtual Tasks" (2019). Information Technology & Decision Sciences Faculty Publications. 29.