Product Design Lessons

Interface Design Sketching  |   Lesson #128

Giving users faith in aesthetics

How to use design triggers part 5 of 10

Part five of our ten part series on psychological triggers and patterns to influence our users is here. In this lesson, we’ll be covering how users look at quality design and branding to make their purchasing decisions and how you can take advantage of this with your design teams.

What is Faith in Aesthetics?

The visual design affects more than just surface aesthetics. Users often judge a site's looks before evaluating the content, and consider attractive sites easier to use. Research shows that users make immediate judgements about a website’s overall appearance. They extend those judgements beyond the visual appeal, applying them to perceived ease of use. Users also extend aesthetics judgments to the quality of site content. In the Stanford Web Credibility Project, nearly half of the participants used visual aspects of the site in their criteria for gauging credibility.

However, perceived usability based on aesthetics does not necessarily transfer over to actual usability and user performance. It’s still possible that attractive sites can create positive emotions that change the way users think, but the site must still be usable enough to benefit.

How you can use it.

Aesthetic appeal is critical for capturing user interest during the initial glance over. If your site looks easy to use, people will try to use it. Understand that users will extend their opinions of how your site looks, and make assumptions about your credibility, back-end functionality, and so on. Don’t expect that usability alone will get people to use your site. It also needs to look good. Also, don’t expect users to change their mind once they use your site. Even if your functionality is great but the site doesn’t look great, the initial bias against your site may deter users from changing their mind. This is why It’s important for MVPs to look good as well as function well and why this should be built into your product from the get go.

Marketers have used this for years with their product branding. When presented with the option of a brand name medicine like Bayer Aspirin or a generic pharmacy brand, most people automatically feel like the brand name is better quality. Why? It has a lot to do with the design and look of the packaging.

Next Steps

Don't underestimate the power of beautiful and consistent design. Understand that users will extend their opinions about how a site looks to make assumptions about its credibility and backend functionality. Paying attention to usability alone isn't enough – for people to use your site, it also needs to look good.

More and more, email is a part of product design. Whether used for account creation, onboarding or updates, knowing how to create amazing emails is an essential skill for the modern product designer. We’ve accumulated our experience in sending millions of emails into Foundation for Emails so you can build freely and worry less about cross browser issues. If you want to hone your skills as an email expert, be sure to check out our ZURB Master Course: Responsive Emails.

About the instructor


Brandon Arnold is a Foundation mastermind. He contributed several key components of the latest version of our framework, and walks you through getting started with Foundation for Emails.