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Advances in Human-Computer Interaction
Volume 2014, Article ID 946239, 13 pages
Research Article

The Interplay between Usability and Aesthetics: More Evidence for the “What Is Usable Is Beautiful” Notion

1Institute of Psychology, University of Osnabrück, Seminarstraße 20, 49074 Osnabrück, Germany
2Social and Media Psychology, Department of Psychology, University of Cologne, Richard-Strauss-Straße 2, 50931 Cologne, Germany

Received 28 May 2014; Revised 22 October 2014; Accepted 8 November 2014; Published 25 November 2014

Academic Editor: Francesco Bellotti

Copyright © 2014 Kai-Christoph Hamborg et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


With respect to inconsistent findings on the interplay between usability and aesthetics, the current paper aimed to further examine the effect of these variables on perceived qualities of a mobile phone prototype. An experiment with four versions of the prototype varying on two factors, (1) usability (high versus low) and (2) aesthetics (high versus low), was conducted with perceived usability and perceived beauty, as well as hedonic experience and the system’s appeal as dependent variables. Participants of the experiment () were instructed to complete four typical tasks with the prototype before assessing its quality. Results showed that the mobile phone’s aesthetics does not affect its perceived usability, either directly or indirectly. Instead, results revealed an effect of usability on perceived beauty, which supports the “what is usable is beautiful” notion instead of “what is beautiful is usable.” Furthermore, effects of aesthetics and of usability on hedonic experience in terms of endowing identity and appeal were found, indicating that both instrumental (usability) and noninstrumental (beauty) qualities contribute to a positive user experience.