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Learning portfolio item 1

October 22, 2012

QUESTION 1) ARTICLE SUMMARY

The article titled, Aesthetic-Usability Effect (AUE), talks about the very real situation in which consumers buy products based on the aesthetic appeal (the way they appeal to the eye) rather than the functionality of the product.

The AUE is kind of a funny thing, in regards to how many people don’t realise that they’re being bombarded by this affect every day. Think back to the old days of mobile phones, about 7 years ago, at how it was cool to get a really high score in snake two on your Nokia 3310. Now we have phones that look like mini televisions that can have a conversation with us! We never used to care about what phones looked like, just as long as we could text or call people.

It is unbelievable how far technology has developed over the last ten years, and the aesthetics of products have now become the most appealing part. I remember a few weeks ago I was shopping and found my self in the toothbrush section thinking, “I could use a new toothbrush.” 15 minutes later I was still there trying to decide which one to get. The colours and the styles of each toothbrush were amazing. Despite the fact that they all do the same job, of removing 99.9% of plaque and germs, I bought a $12 toothbrush because it had orange bristles. The Aesthetic-Usability Effect one. Gullible uni student Jake zero.

The AUE is becoming, if not already, has become the single most brilliant advertising tool. The article also outlines the perception that consumers feel, in which that they buy a product that is more beautiful it will be easier to use. For example, If you give someone a 150 thousand dollar Porsche, and asked them to drive you somewhere they had never been. They would jump at the opportunity to drive a beautiful Porsche, however, would probably spend the next first 45 minutes trying to work out how to use the SAT NAV.

Today’s society has been sucked in to the most brilliant advertising tool, which is the AUE. I feel that people need to go back to basics, and buy products for the services they provide, rather than how beautiful they are.

QUESTION 2) EXAMPLES

There are many examples out there that can be associated with the Aesthetic-Usability Effect, but I can only describe three. The first is a no brainer, Apple computers. The attention to detail that Apple has with its products is second to none. Keyboard’s that are illuminated, convenient yet pretty at the same time. The graphics on the screen are so vibrant and sharp that the user will be mesmerised for hours on end. The Apple Mac computers speak for them selves in regards to meeting the AUE principle. Apple is literally ‘leading people to the light’ with their products and it has resulted in Apple’s net worth to exceed $500 billion. To put that in perspective, if you took Poland and Costa Rica’s gross domestic product (basically how much money a country makes from its goods and services in a year) you still would not have as much as what Apple has.

The second example is kind of cliché, but I’m a bloke and I loves cars. The most beautiful car of all time according to Enzo Ferrari, who lets be honest kind of knows his stuff, is the Jaguar E-Type. The gorgeous curves and long sleek lines accompanied by that huge aggressive bonnet make it one of the most stunning cars ever made. This car relates to the AUE specifically because this beautiful car sounds as amazing as it looks, but the reality is it probably doesn’t drive as well as my mums reasonably priced Toyota Camry. But really who cares, if someone lent me this car for the weekend, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to turn it down.

Finally something a little bit more unorthodox to relate to the AUE is Toothbrushes. We use this product (hopefully) twice a day everyday for the entirety of our lives. The Oral B CrossAction Pro-Health sounds like an x-ray machine, but in fact it is just an ordinary toothbrush. This brush not only removes 99% of plaque in hard to reach areas and gives the user a 55% better clean along the gum line, but it looks fantastic. It comes in a variety of colours including Saphire, Topaz, Ruby and titanium. Not just blue red or green but these colours even sound sophisticated. Which is a text book example of the AUE. The brushes sleek curves and gel grips add to the look resulting in a stunning example of toothbrush design. Users will definitely be going out to buy this toothbrush because it looks fantastic, even though you can buy an environmentally friendly toothbrush made from bamboo that does the same job.

References:

Oral-B (2012) CrossAction Pro-Health. Retrieved from http://www.oralb.com/products/crossaction-pro-health-toothbrush/#features-0

Yahoo! Autos (2012) The 10 most beautiful cars of all time. Retrieved from http://autos.yahoo.com/news/the-10-most-beautiful-cars-of-all-time.html?page=all

CNBC (2012) How Big Is Apple? Retrieved from http://www.cnbc.com/id/46606766/How_Big_Is_Apple?slide=1

Sara M. Conklin, Richard J. Koubek, James A. Thurman and Leah C. Newman (2006) Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting: The Effects of Aesthetics and Cognitive, Style on Perceived Usability. 50, 2153-2157. DOI: 10.1177/154193120605001808

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