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In defense of “Eye Candy”

In the society of designers, it is often possible to hear that true professionals build their work on the strict conformity of design to the brand’s corporate style or simply on the basic principles of design, and aesthetic beauty fades into the background. Living discussions on this issue lack one thing: understanding that aesthetics plays a huge role in cognition, perception and reaction.

Take a look at what “clothes” designers “now wear” with ordinary ready-made structured information; or how the term “eye candy” reduces the significance of graphic design as such. Language, at the present stage, narrows the concept of “design” to a simple “design”, as well as separates “aesthetics” and “usability” (as if they are two completely different areas). If we switch from individual graphic elements, and pay attention to general aesthetics – “the science of how we experience feelings” – we will find out that this very difference between how something works and how it looks does not really exists, it is contrived.

Why aesthetics?

To begin with, I will say that “aesthetics” deals with everything that relates to our feelings and is not limited only to our eyesight: it is hearing, touch, smell, and sensitivity in general. In other words: how we perceive and understand the world around us. As professionals in our field, we must pay attention to every design element that may affect the behavior of [a person] when interacting with the system, website, program.

Moreover, “aesthetics explores our emotional zone in relation to an object or action” (Wikipedia). In other words, aesthetics is not only the design features of buttons on Internet sites and other visual effects, but also the specific reaction of a visitor to these buttons. So, let’s formulate the problem: how do the chosen design decisions affect the user’s understanding and feelings, and how do the latter ultimately affect the behavior?

Aesthetics and perception.

Perception is a “process of knowledge.” We learn to learn the world, based on previous experience and following generally accepted patterns of behavior: What happens if I click here? What does this color mean? The science of cognition studies how a person cognizes things, and aesthetics plays a key role in the process of cognition of an object by man. In the example below: which quad is the button exactly?

In this case, aesthetics tells the function. The example on the right resembles a real button. The beveled edges and the gradient fill leave no doubt as to the function of this image – this is the button. In this example, the graphic design plays the role of a “beacon” – “you can interact with it” – which, in turn, plays an important role in the design. In other words: if it looks like a button, most likely it is a button.

Similarly, the following: well-designed forms of confirmation by the user of an action (on the website or in the program interface) have an element that the user should mark (check mark) and, most likely, there are shades of green: green – good; red is bad; yellow – worth thinking about. The designer in his work should take into account how our brain understands colors, shadows, shades, shading.
By making thoughtful and informed decisions about what features your product will have, you can form positive or negative reactions to it. Take a look at Sony and how they applied this knowledge when developing Sony AIBO. Let’s see why they created a robot in the form of a puppy dog.

This is a robot, and it is not perfect. He does not understand most of your commands. He may or may not execute commands that, in theory, should know. And in general, he does not know much.

If it was a model of an adult butler who does not understand half of what you want from him and often does not what he was asked for, he would be looked at as broken. But we have a puppy, and he is cute! Puppies should not do everything they are asked for. When a robot puppy does exactly what he was commanded, we feel satisfaction. “Look, he turned over!” Is not a great trick to enter the market?

Consider: what features will you give to your development, and what expectations of the user will it embody?

Trust me on this?

According to a study conducted in 2002, “the general appeal of the site, which is formed from typography, the size of the text, composition, colors” is the main criterion for assessing our trust in this site.

It makes sense. Recall how your own appearance (your own aesthetics) is reflected in your perception of others; or how product packaging affects our perception of the content of this packaging.
So, how do we create a trusting relationship between the user and our program, not only referring to its stability and reliable content? For example, thinking about the appearance!

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