Measuring Visual Impressions

I always tell people new to UX that its more than visuals and more than just the UI. However, I came across an article (Rapid Desirability Testing: A Case Study) for class that summarizes the importance and methods testing for desirability of the visual design. The article posits that the emotional first impressions of the visual design can effect the “perceived utility, usability, and credibility” of the product. If it looks good, then people are more likely to forgive some usability issues. On the other hand, if it looks bad, then people are more likely to nit pick the usability issue even if the usability is good overall.

If I think about my own experience with web sites and apps, I unconsciously adjust my level of trust and expected user experience by the initial look of the app. In some cases, I will not even download it if the screenshots show a bad visual design. Basically, I need to make sure whatever the deliverables I am responsible for, they need to be visually appealing and polished in addition to all the other requirements. But how does one measure if something is visually desirable?

The article mentions many methods but one that stood out to be both effective and fairly easy to execute. It was originally proposed by Benedek and Miner (from Microsoft) where users choose among a set of positive and negative (60/40 ratio) adjectives to grade a visual design. The tally is taken to reveal users desirability of the design. I look forward to trying this cheap and simple method during my usability testing in the future.

Let me know if you have tried this or have another method of measuring visual design desirability.

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