Attitudes Towards the Usability and Aesthetics of a Web Application

Kristo Kõiv
The master thesis focuses on the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). The aim of this thesis was to study the attitudes towards the usability and aesthetics of a web application. The first chapter of this thesis focuses on the overview studies and research methods involving the field at issue. Secondly an experiment was conducted to gather the opinions about the aesthetics and usability of a web application. Therefore an Adobe Flash based web application was developed that consisted of 18 playful interactive clips that differed from each other by the combination of three variables each involving aesthetics or usability. The usability was modified by introducing controlled functional errors to the application (no errors, mouse click delays or random mouse clicks malfunctioning). The aesthetics factor was modified by two variables: colour combinations (two chromatic (red-blue and green-yellow) or one achromatic colour combination) and spatial visual display of the whole clip (two-dimensional (2D) or three-dimensional (3D)). Each clip was evaluated by the users using semantic differential research method consisting of nine 7-point scales of usability and aesthetics. The experiment was carried out amongst 169 students, gathering the opinions of 2382 clips. The results show that the clips with no functional errors were evaluated higher on the scales involving usability than the clips including functional errors. The errors of mouse clicks malfunctioning were found to influence the user’s attitudes towards usability more than the delaying of mouse clicks functionality. There was a tendency that the clips having achromatic colour combinations were evaluated lower on the aesthetic scales than the clips containing chromatic colours. Though no statistical differences were found between the evaluations of the two chromatic colour combinations introduced on the aesthetics scales. It was also found that on the aesthetics scales the 3D clips were generally rated higher than 2D clips. Additionally when looking at the relation of the attitudes towards usability and aesthetics it is proposed that, considering the evaluations of aesthetics, the beauty and goodness scales should be viewed at separately. It is speculated based on previous research that the attitudes towards usability and beauty are related indirectly in such a way that it’s mediated by goodness. On the other hand it is found that the participants changed some of their opinions over the time of participating in the experiment which arises some new fields for research. In general it is emphasised that the overall evaluation is not solely based on the opinions of usability but also the attitudes towards aesthetics play an important role.
Graduation Thesis language
Graduation Thesis type
Master - Information Technology
Eno Tõnisson
Defence year