A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Aesthetics

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Aesthetics is a subdiscipline of axiology, a branch of philosophy, and is closely associated with the philosophy of art, graphic design, and visual rhetoric. Aesthetics studies new ways of seeing and of perceiving the world.

 

1.
#19009

Det Aestetiske Grundbegreb

Hvilket æstetisk grundbegreb kan virke som rettesnor i relation til en designproces og princippet om helhed? Om begrebet æstetik bør det først noteres, at det i denne sammenhæng på ingen måde må forholdes til den klassiske opfattelse etableret i aristotelisk forstand. Der er ingen grund til at blande så subjektive begreber som ”det gode / det onde” ind i en diskussion vedrørende en brugergrænseflade. Dette er naturligvis baseret på Platons lære om Mimesis , og den sande (vel egentligt transcendentale) form.

Quark, The (2002). (Danish) Design>Web Design>Aesthetics

2.
#23358

The Aesthetic Imperative: Four Perspectives on Aesthetics to Impact the User Experience

Aesthetic value can and should be part of the total design effort, including the information architect's perspective to achieve a 'total integrative experience.' Here are four ways to think about aesthetics and beauty to structure and focus the dialogue with UX peers: visual designers, programmers, content producers, strategists, etc.

Gajendar, Uday. IAsummit (2004). Design>Web Design>User Centered Design>Aesthetics

3.
#18285

Aesthetics and Usability: A Look at Color and Balance

As websites continue to fight for the attention of potential users, designers must begin to look not only at the inherent usability of the site, but also its perceived usability. For instance, Tractinsky (1997) found a correlation between perceived usability and aesthetics when investigating ATM machines. Subjects based their overall opinion of the usability of the ATM on the 'look' of the machine. Moreover, in examining users' first impression of websites, Shenkman and Jonsson (2000) found that the best predictor for the overall judgment by typical users of a website was its beauty. Design principles are frequently utilized by graphic designers to create aesthetically pleasing websites. The term harmony can be defined as a pleasing arrangement of parts, whether it be music, poetry, or color. In visual experiences, harmony is something that is pleasing to the eye. Two design principles that influence harmony are balance and color. When a website is harmonious, it engages the viewer and creates an inner sense of order, a balance in the visual experience. When something is not harmonious, it becomes either boring or chaotic (Lauer & Pentak, 2002). According to Lindgaard (1999), color is a strong predictor in the overall appeal of a website.

Brady, Laurie and Christine Phillips. Usability News (2003). Design>Web Design>Usability>Aesthetics

4.
#19927

Aesthetics Engage Language   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)

Although the medium of film, by virtue of its photographic process, is image-dominated, some of its finest efforts have been in re-presenting word-centric tales. The text—appealing to the intellect—is refashioned/reinvented into a medium appealing to the senses of sight and hearing, through the personal vision of an auteur/director who adapts material from the language of text to the language of film. Certainly technical considerations come into play, but the auteur’s choices are essentially aesthetic. In rendering words into images, he or she responds to the audiovisual aesthetic of film.

Ades, Sally. Lore (2003). Articles>Rhetoric>Aesthetics

5.
#21466

Beauty is Only Screen Deep

What happens when web designers really 'get' designing for the web? Sarah Horton, co-author of the Web Style Guide, ponders the meaning of beauty and quality in the context of being a good web designer.

Horton, Sarah. Boxes and Arrows (2002). Design>Web Design>Aesthetics

6.
#10555

Digital Fashion

Design is the visual expression of thoughts and feelings, and combines rational and emotional conditions. In digital media the focus is shifted to functionality, primarily because the development is rapid and it takes a lot just to understand the options. This is as truer for users as it is true for designers. Once this phase is over and the standards are set, there will be a growing demand for more refined design solutions: projects that communicate and not just deliver information. Rationality rules at the surface, anything that turns the focus of the users awareness to something specific happens earlier and the motivation comes from the deeper levels of the soul. The whole fuzzy composition is very influential before the content is clearly rendered, if it ever gets clear at all; Sites are in the same situation as billboards, they have to grab the attention of the visitor in the first moment without having him to think about something specific. In a more and more competitive environment there is always an

Jenett, Daniel. Digital Web Magazine (1999). Design>Graphic Design>Aesthetics>Emotions

7.
#34099

The Elegance of Imperfection

Bringing heart to web experiences can be difficult, since websites and applications are fundamentally a construct of logic (via code). While you can’t create a website that functions as a pure expression of wabi-sabi, finding ways to infuse our creations with a hint of wabi-sabi adds a new dimension to our work. It forces us to consider how the natural order of our physical world should inform the virtual worlds of information that we create. One way this natural order finds expression in the web design world is through the notion of elegance.

Sherwin, David. List Apart, A (2009). Articles>Web Design>Aesthetics

8.
#32359

An Empirical Investigation of Color Temperature and Gender Effects on Web Aesthetics   (peer-reviewed)

Limited research exists on the relevance of hedonic dimensions of human-computer interaction to usability, with only a small set of this research being empirical in nature. Furthermore, previous research has obtained mixed support for gender differences regarding perceptions of attractiveness and usability in Web site design. This empirical research addresses the above gap by studying the effects of color temperature and gender on perceptions of Web site aesthetics.

Coursaris, Constantinos K., Sarah J. Sweirenga and Ethan Watrall. Journal of Usability Studies (2008). Articles>Web Design>Aesthetics>Gender

9.
#33144

Five Simple Steps to Designing Grid Systems:

Aesthetics can be measured and more importantly can be constructed. If you want something to be aesthetically pleasing there are steps you can take to make sure it is going in the right direction. Now I'm not saying that 'follow these rules and you will create something beautiful'. What I am saying is that by following a few of these guidelines can go some way into creating something compositionally balanced, which will inherently be more aesthetically pleasing.

Boulton, Mark. Mark Boulton (2007). Articles>Document Design>Graphic Design>Aesthetics

10.
#35407

Form and Function, Revisited

While I'm a firm believer in the primacy of content over appearance, aesthetics are definitely a part of drawing people into documentation and engaging them. There's nothing wrong with making online assistance or a printed manual attractive. It doesn't need to be a beautifully-designed work of art, but it should be something a little more than blocks of black text on a white page.

Nesbitt, Scott. DMN Communications (2009). Articles>Documentation>Document Design>Aesthetics

11.
#27380

Is Beauty the New Usability Attribute?

The beauty of a product can influence the users' overall impression or general user satisfaction of the product. Think iPod. But how do you measure that?

Hall, Mark D. and Kathleen Straub. Human Factors International (2005). Articles>Usability>Aesthetics>User Experience

12.
#34872

Making an Impact: Measuring Web Design Effectiveness

Want to build a great website incorporating aesthetic design and usability? Find out what to measure to help ensure your site has great aesthetic design.

Gray, Alistair. Webcredible (2009). Articles>Web Design>Aesthetics>Usability

13.
#28629

On the Social Implications of Invisibility: The iMac G5 and the Effacement of the Technological Object

Many people use a Macintosh computer and choose to do so because of their hip, popular designs. The look of Apple's competitively priced desktop, the iMac G5, exemplifies the company's attempts to beautify digital technology with a sleek shape that inserts the computer into the monitor. Yet the tool's attractive appearance also disguises socially problematic aspects of the production and disposal of new media devices.

Schaefer, Peter D. and Meenakshi Gigi Durham. Communication Currents (2007). Articles>Computing>Aesthetics>Macintosh

14.
#33724

Prediction: 2009 Will Be the Year of Documentation

One of my projects for this year, both personally and professionally, is to make documentation look better. Yes, I'm working on the content as well. But I really want to improve the visual design of information. I want documentation to be pleasurable to look at. No more crappy Word documents with default fonts and ugly margins. No more low-quality screen captures. No more icky.

Hogbin, Emma Jane. emmajane.net (2009). Articles>Documentation>Aesthetics

15.
#38801

Reclaiming Experience: the Aesthetic and Multimodal Composition   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Recent scholarship points to the rhetorical role of the aesthetic in multimodal composition and new media contexts. In this article, I examine the aesthetic as a rhetorical concept in writing studies and imagine the ways in which this concept can be useful to teachers of multimodal composition. My treatment of the concept begins with a return to the ancient Greek aisthetikos (relating to perception by the senses) in order to discuss the aesthetic as a meaningful mode of experience. I then review European conceptions of the aesthetic and finally draw from John Dewey and Bruno Latour to help shape this concept into a pragmatic and useful approach that can complement multimodal teaching and learning. The empirical approach I construct adds to an understanding of aesthetic experience with media in order to render more transparent the ways in which an audience creates knowledge—or takes and makes meaning—via the senses. Significantly, this approach to meaning making supports learning in digital environments where students are increasingly asked to both produce and consume media convergent texts that combine multiple modalities including sound, image, and user interaction.

Knight, Aimée. Computers and Composition (2013). Articles>Writing>Aesthetics>Multimedia

16.
#21392

Review: The Substance of Style: How the Rise of Aesthetic Value Is Remaking Commerce, Culture, and Consciousness

Whether you have been paying attention or not we are living in an age of aesthetics. So says Virginia Postrel in her latest book, The Substance of Style: How the Rise of Aesthetic Value Is Remaking Commerce, Culture, and Consciousness. Postrel examines how the role of aesthetics and style are transforming our culture and economy in a variety of ways.

MacLaughlin, Steve. Boxes and Arrows (2003). Articles>Reviews>Aesthetics

17.
#33911

Website Aesthetics: What Has It Got To Do With Usability?

How we choose what to buy is a key question that should be asked when designing an ecommerce website. Find out the importance of and relationship between aesthetics and usability.

Gray, Alistair. Webcredible (2009). Articles>Web Design>Aesthetics>Usability

18.
#36775

Wikis, Documentation, and Aesthetics

Quality content or appearance? My choice is the former. No matter how beautifully laid out and typeset a piece of documentation is, if the information that it contains isn’t accurate or useful fine typography and design can’t paper over those deficiencies. What’s wrong with a wiki? Overall, not much. But the problem with documentation that’s delivered using a wiki is that it looks like it’s being delivered using a wiki.

Nesbitt, Scott. Communications from DMN (2010). Articles>Documentation>Aesthetics>Wikis

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