My master thesis 'What is usable is usable'

In July 2004 I wrote my master thesis at the University Cardiff. You can read the abstract here and download the complete thesis. I'm currently looking into the possibilities to publish the article.


An increasing number of papers look at the relationship between the classic Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) interest usability and the newcomer aesthetics. We replicated Tractinsky's simulated cash machine experiment, but avoided biasing participants by showing them only one interface. We used multiple item measures and made a distinction between classic aesthetics (emphasis on orderly and clear design) and expressive aesthetics (emphasis on creativity and originality). Contrary to Tractinsky, our manipulation of usability had an effect on perceived usability and we found that classic aesthetics could influence actual usability. In the second experiment, our interfaces failed to differ in classic and expressive aesthetic judgements. We could not prove that aesthetics only had an effect on perceived usability through its effect on completion times. Expressive aesthetics appeared to affect perceived usability and not actual usability. This shows that aesthetics can influence both actual and perceived usability. It could be argued that if there is no actual usability difference, people base their perception of usability on aesthetics. If however there is an actual usability difference, people base their perception of usability on both the actual usability and aesthetics. Therefore we recommend more research into their exact relationship.

Download complete thesis (Get Acrobat Reader)

Download the presentation