Considering the Aesthetics of Ubiquitous Displays

Part of the Cognitive Technologies book series (COGTECH)


We call attention to the important role that aesthetics, or visual beauty, can and should play in the deployment of ubiquitous displays. Following a short survey of the emergence of visual aesthetics in the field of human-computer interaction (HCI), we suggest that the importance of aesthetics stem from three main perspectives. The design perspective suggests that beauty is a cornerstone of any design discipline and that it is often positively related to other practices of good HCI design, such as usability. From a psychological perspective we argue that aesthetics induces pleasure and satisfies human needs; and that it is influential in how people form first impressions and subsequent attitudes. Finally, we argue that aesthetics has an important practical role as a differentiating factor between interactive products. Even more importantly, it is already woven into the socio-technical web of our time. We discuss the implications of this position for the design of ubiquitous displays.


  1. 1.
    Bardram, J., and Friday A.: Ubiquitous Computing Systems. In: Ubiquitous Computing Fundamentals, pp. 37–94. CRC Press (2009)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Ben-Bassat, T., Meyer, J., and Tractinsky, N.: Economic and Subjective Measures of the Perceived Value of Aesthetics and Usability, ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interactions (TOCHI), 13,2, 1–25 (2006)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bloch, Peter H., Frederic F. Brunel, and Todd J. Arnold..: Individual Differences in the Centrality of Visual Product Aesthetics: Concept and Measurement. Journal of Consumer Research, 29, 551–565 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Brave, S. and Nass, C.: Emotion in Human-Computer Interaction. In: Jacko, J. & Sears, A. (eds.), Handbook of Human-Computer Interaction, pp. 251–271. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Hillsdale NJ (2003)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Brooks, F.P.: The Mythical Man-Month. Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA (1975)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Card, S.K., Moran, T.P., and Newell, A. The Psychology of Human-Computer Interaction. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Hillsdale NJ (1983)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Carter, S., Mankoff, J., Klemmer, S. R., and Matthews, T.: Exiting the Cleanroom: On Ecological Validity and Ubiquitous Computing, Human-Computer Interaction, 23, 1, 47–99 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Cawthon, N. and Vande Moere, A.: The Effect of Aesthetic on the Usability of Data Visualization. In: 11th International Conference Information Visualization (IV’07) (2007)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Cyr, D., Kindra, G. and Dash, S.: Website Design, Trust, Satisfaction, and E-loyalty: The Indian Experience. Online Information Review, vol. 32, 6, 773–790 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Davis, F.D.: Perceived Usefulness, Perceived Ease of Use and User Acceptance of Information Technology. MIS Quarterly 13, 319–339, (1989)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Design Council: The Impact of Design on Stock Market Performance: An Analysis of UK Quoted Companies 1994–2003, February (2004)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Diefenbach, S. and Hassenzahl, M.: The “Beauty Dilemma”: Beauty is Valued but Discounted in Product Choice. In: Proceedings of the 27th international conference on Human factors in computing systems (CHI 2009), pp. 1419–1426 (2009)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Dion, K., Berscheid, E., and Walster, E.: What is Beautiful is Good. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 24, 3, 285–290 (1972)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Donovan, R.J., Rossiter, J.R., Marcoolyn, G. and Nesdale, A.:. Store Atmosphere and Purchasing Behavior, Journal of Retailing,70, 3, 283–294 (1994)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Fischwick, P. (ed.): Aesthetic Computing, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA (2006)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Gann, D.M., Salter, A.J., and Whyte, J.K. Design Quality Indicator as a Tool for Thinking. Building Research & Information, 31, 5, 318–333 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Gibney, Jr., F. and Luscombe, B.: The Redesign of America. Time (March 20, 2000).Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Gilboa S., and Rafaeli, A.. “Store environment, emotions and approach behavior: applying environmental aesthetics to retailing”, The International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research,13,2, 195–211 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Hamermesh, D., and Biddle, J.: Beauty and the Labor Market. American Economic Review, 84, 1174–94 (1994)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Hamermesh, D., and Parker, A.M.: Beauty in the Classroom: Professors’ Pulchritude and Putative Pedagogical Productivity. Economics of Education Review, 24, 4, 369–376 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Hartmann, J., Sutcliffe, A., De Angeli, A.: Towards a Theory of User Judgment of Aesthetics and User Interface Quality. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI) 15,4 (2008)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Hartmann, J., Sutcliffe, A., De Angeli, A.: Investigating Attractiveness in Web User Interfaces. Proceedings of CHI 2007, April 28–May 3, pp. 387–396. San Jose, California, USA, (2007)Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Hassenzahl, M.: Aesthetics in Interactive Products: Correlates and Consequences of Beauty. In: Schifferstain, H.N.J. and Hekkert, P. (eds.) Product Experience, Elsevier, Amsterdam (2008)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Hassenzahl, M. and Tractinsky, N.: User Experience – A Research Agenda, Behaviour & Information Technology, 25, 2, 91–97 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Höfel, L. and Jacobsen, T. Electrophysiological Indices of Processing Symmetry and Aesthetics. Journal of Psychophysiology, 21, 1, 9–21 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Johnson, P.A.: The Theory of Architecture: Concepts, Themes, and Practices. John Wiley & Sons, New York (1994)Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Jordan, P.W.: Designing Pleasurable Products. Taylor and Francis, London (2002)Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Kim, J., Lee, J., Han, K., and Lee, M.: Businesses as Buildings: Metrics for the Architectural Quality of Internet businesses. Information Systems Research, 13, 2 239–254 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Kluger, A. N., and Rafaeli, A.: Affective Reactions to Physical Appearance. In: Ashkanasy, N., Hartel C.E.J., and Zerbe W.J. (eds.).: Emotions and Organizational Life. Greenwood Publishing Group, Westport, CT (2000)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Kurosu, M., and Kashimura, K.: Apparent Usability vs. Inherent Usability: Experimental Analysis on the Determinants of the Apparent Usability. In: Conference Companion on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 292–293, Denver, USA, (1995)
  31. 31.
    Lavie, T. and Tractinsky, N.: Assessing Dimensions of Perceived Visual Aesthetics of Web Sites, International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 60, 3, 269–298 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Leder, H., Belke, B., Oeberst, A., and Augustin, D.: A Model of Aesthetic Appreciation and Aesthetic Judgments. British Journal of Psychology, 95, 489–508 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Lee, A.S.: Architecture as a Reference Discipline for MIS. In: Nissen H. E., Klein H. K, and Hirschheim R. (eds.), Information Research: Contemporary Approaches and Emergent Tradition, pp. 573–592. North-Holland, Amsterdam (1991)Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Kruft, H.W.: A History of Architectural Theory: From Vitruvius to the Present. Zwemmer and Princeton Architectural Press, New York (1994)Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Lindgaard, G., Fernandes, G. J., Dudek, C., and Brownet, J.: Attention Web Designers: You Have 50 Milliseconds to Make a Good First Impression! Behaviour and Information Technology, 25,2, 115–126 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Liu, I.: Engineering Aesthetics and Aesthetic Ergonomics: Theoretical Foundations and a Dual-Process Research Methodology. Ergonomics 46, 13–14, 1273–1292 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Lojacono, G. and Zaccai, G.: The Evolution of the Design-Inspired Enterprise. Sloan Management Review, Spring 2004, 75–79 (2004)Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Lyubomirsky, S., King, L., and Diener, E.: The Benefits of Frequent Positive Affect: Does Happiness Lead to Success? Psychological Bulletin, 131, 6, 803–855, (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Mankoff, J., Dey, A.K., Hsieh, G., Kientz, J., Lederer, S., and Ames, M. Heuristic Evaluation of Ambient Displays. Proceedings of CHI 2003, April 5–10, pp. 169–176. Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, USA (2003)Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Marcus, A.: Graphic Design for Electronic Documents and User Interfaces. ACM Press, New York (1992)MATHGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Martin, R. and Riel, J.: Designing Interactions at Work: Applying Design to Discussions, Meetings, and Relationships. Interactions, March+April 2010, 16–19, (2010)Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Maslow, A.H.: Motivation and Personality: Harper & Row, New York (1954)Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Mehrabian, A. and Russell J. A.: An Approach to Environmental Psychology.: MIT Press: Cambridge, MA (1974).Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Moshagen, M., Musch,, J. and Goritz, A.S.: A Blessing, Not a Curse: Experimental Evidence for Beneficial Effects of Visual Aesthetics on Performance. Ergonomics 52, No. 10, October 2009, 1311–1320 (2009)Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Müller, J.H.: Context Adaptive Digital Signage in Transitional Spaces. Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, Westfälischen Wilhelms-Universität Münster. (2008)Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Müller, J., Krüger, A. and Kufik, T.: Maximizing the Utility of Situated Public Displays. Adjunct Proceedings of User Modeling. Corfu (2007)Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Nake, F.: Computer Art. A Personal Recollection. Proceedings of the 5th Conference on Creativity & Cognition. April 12–15, 2005, London, United Kingdom, pp. 54–62 (2005)Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Nasar, J.L. (ed.): Environmental Aesthetics: Theory, Research, and Applications, University Press, Cambridge (1988)Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Nielsen, J.: Usability Engineering. Academic Press, Boston (1993)MATHGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Nielsen, J.: Usability ROI Declining, But Still Strong. Available online:, Last retrieved August 15, 2010. (2008)
  51. 51.
    Norman, D.A.,: The Psychology of Everyday Things. MIT, London (1988)Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Norman, D.A.: The Invisible Computer: Why Good Products Can Fail, the Personal Computer Is So Complex, and Information Appliances Are the Solution. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA (1998)Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Norman, D.A.: Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things. Basic Books, New York (2004)Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    Parush, A., Nadir, R., and Shtub, A.: Evaluating the Layout of Graphical User Interface Screens: Validation of a Numerical, Computerized Model. International Journal of Human Computer Interaction, 10, 4, 343–360 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Porat, T. and Tractinsky, N.: Affect as a Mediator between Web-Store Design and Consumers’ Attitudes towards the Store. In: Peter, C. and Beale, R. (eds.) Lecture Notes in Computer Science: Affect and Emotion in Human-Computer Interaction, 142–153. Springer-Verlag, Berlin/Heidelberg (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Porat, T. and Tractinsky, N.: It’s a Pleasure Buying Here: The Effects of Web-Store Design on Consumers’ Emotions and Attitudes. Human-Computer Interaction (in press).Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    Porat, T., Liss, R., and Tractinsky, N.: E-stores Design: The Influence of E-store Design and Product Type on Consumers’ Emotions and Attitudes. Proceedings of the 12th International Conference, HCI International 2007, Beijing, China, July 22–27, 2007, pp. 712–721 (2007)Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    Postrel,V.: The Substance of Style. HarperCollins, New York (2002)Google Scholar
  59. 59.
    Rafaeli, A. and Vilnai-Yavetz, I.: Emotion as a Connection of Physical Artifacts and Organizations, Organization Science, 15, 6, 671–686 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. 60.
    Ravina, E.: Love & Loans: The Effect of Beauty and Personal Characteristics in Credit Markets. Columbia University (2008)Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    Reif, I., Alt, F., Hincapié Ramos, J.D., Poteriaykina. K., and Wagner, J.: Cleanly – Trashducation Urban System. Proceedings of CHI 2010, April 10–15, 2010, Atlanta, Georgia, USA, pp. 3511–3516 (2010)Google Scholar
  62. 62.
    Saito, Y.: Everyday Aesthetics. Oxford University Press, Oxford (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. 63.
    Santayana, G.: The Sense of Beauty. Available online through Project Gutenberg: (Last accessed August 15, 2010) (1896)
  64. 64.
    Sonderegger, A. and Sauer, J..: The Influence of Design Aesthetics in Usability Testing: Effects on User Performance and Perceived Usability, Applied Ergonomics, 41, 403–410 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. 65.
    Spool, J.M., Scanlon, T., Schroeder, W., Snyder, C., DeAngelo, T.: Web Site Usability: A Designer’s Guide, Morgan Kaufman, Los Altos, CA (1999)Google Scholar
  66. 66.
    Sutcliffe, A.: Designing for User Engagement: Aesthetic and Attractive User Interfaces. Morgan & Claypool Publishers Synthesis Lectures on Human-Centered Informatics (2010)Google Scholar
  67. 67.
    Taylor, F.W.: The Principles of Scientific Management. Chapters 1 and 2 available online: (Last retrieved August 15, 2010) (1911)
  68. 68.
    Tractinsky, N., (1997). Aesthetics and Apparent Usability: Empirically Assessing Cultural and Methodological Issues. ACM CHI Conference Proceedings on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 97), pp. 115–122.Google Scholar
  69. 69.
    Tractinsky, N., Shoval-Katz A. and Ikar, D.: What is Beautiful is Usable. Interacting with Computers, 13(2):127–145 (2000).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. 70.
    Tractinsky, N. and Lavie, T.: Aesthetic and usability considerations in users’ choice of personal media players. Proceedings Volume 2 of the 16th British HCI Conference, London, September, pp. 70–73 (2002)Google Scholar
  71. 71.
    Tractinsky, N.: Towards the Study of Aesthetics in Information Technology, Proceedings of the 25th Annual International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS), Washington, DC, December 12–15, pp. 771–780 (2004)Google Scholar
  72. 72.
    Tractinsky, N.: Aesthetics in Information Technology: Motivation and Future Research Directions. In: Zhang, P. and Galletta, D. (eds.) Human-Computer Interaction in Management Information Systems: Foundations, pp. 330–347. M. E. Sharpe, Inc (2006)Google Scholar
  73. 73.
    Tractinsky, N., Cokhavi, A., Kirschenbaum, M. and Sharfi, T.: Evaluating the Consistency of Immediate Aesthetic Perceptions of Web Pages, International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 64, 11, 1071–1083 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. 74.
    Tractinsky, N. and Zmiri, D.: Exploring Attributes of Skins as Potential Antecedents of Emotion in HCI in Fishwick, P. (ed.) Aesthetic Computing. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA (2006)Google Scholar
  75. 75.
    Tufte, E. R.: The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. Graphics Press, Cheshire, Connecticut (1983)Google Scholar
  76. 76.
    Weiser, M. and Seely Brown, J.: Designing Calm Technology. Xerox PARC. Online: (Last retrieved August 15, 2010) (1995)
  77. 77.
    Weiser, M. Gold, R., and Seely Brown, J.: The Origins of Ubiquitous Computing Research at PARC in the late 1980s. IBM Systems Journal, 38, 4, 693–696 (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ben-Gurion University of the NegevBeer ShevaIsrael

Personalised recommendations