Institute of Art Design + Technology
Dún Laoghaire

Jack Condron 

BSc [Hons] Applied Psychology

I'm a driven student of design. Over the course of the past four years I have studied Applied Psychology which focuses on how an understanding of psychology can be used to benefit people, with specific regard to UX design. Throughout my studies I have gained an appreciation for the importance of user-centered design when creating a product or experience. Through completing interesting UX projects I have learned that I am a fast learner and can work well under pressure to provide satisfying results.

Exploring the Effects of Levels of Design Characteristics on the User Experience of a Travel App

Perceived usability and perceived aesthetics are both important aspects of app design as well as design in general, having been observed to affect user trust and intention to download an app. The current study aimed to explore if different pairings of design characteristics: high aesthetics and low usability design (HA-LU) vs. high usability and low aesthetic design (HU-LA), would have an effect on perceived usability and perceived aesthetics combined together under the general term ‘user experience’.
To do this, two designs for a travel app were created. One design followed aesthetic design principles and violated usability design principles, while the other followed usability design principles and violated aesthetic design principles.
This project was carried out to further the understanding of the relationship between usability and aesthetics in order to help identify what is most important to the user and as such what aspects of design, if any, should take priority.

Design Characteristics Affected: Perceived Aesthetics

The results of this project showed that perceived aesthetics was significantly affected by the manipulation of design characteristics, with a statistically significant difference observed between the two app designs. While a difference was also observed for perceived usability, it was not statistically significant.
This shows that the low usability design principles present in the HA-LU app design did not have an effect on the participant's perceived aesthetics.
The lack of a statistically significant outcome for usability could be due to the concept of visual clarity which suggests that when aesthetic design principles are followed, usability design principles are likely being followed at the same time and vice-versa. The researcher attempted to strictly follow and violate each set of design principles but there may be intrinsic links between the two that make this difficult or, in some cases, potentially impossible.
While not statistically significant, a difference was observed with the HA-LU app (which violated usability design principles) scoring higher on perceived usability than the HU-LA app (which followed usability design principles. Aesthetics appeared to be the more important design characteristic overall.

Personal Learning

It was challenging to design the two different versions of the travel app. Actively going against the design principles I have learned over the past 4 years was strange at first but it was enjoyable to work within the restrictions I set for each app i.e. high aesthetics but low usability principles for the HA-LU app.
I ultimately found that the line often blurs when deciding whether something is an aesthetic design characteristic or a usability design characteristic. When I followed aesthetic principles I usually ended up following usability principles too and vice-versa.
I also became much more proficient with Figma over the past year while working on this project.