May 2012

Helen Purchase, An Exploration of Interface Visual Aesthetics


The visual design of an interface is not merely an ‘add-on’ to the functionality provided by a system: it is well-known that it can affect user preference, engagement and motivation, but does it have any effect on user performance? Can the efficiency or effectiveness of a system be improved by its visual design? This seminar will report on experiments that investigate whether any such effect can be quantified and tested. Key to this question is the definition of an unambiguous, quantifiable characterisation of an interface’s ‘visual aesthetic’: ways in which this could be determined will be discussed.

About Helen:
Dr Helen Purchase is Senior Lecturer in the School of Computing Science at the University of Glasgow. She has worked in the area of empirical studies of graph layout for several years, and also has research interests in visual aesthetics, task-based empirical design, collaborative learning in higher education, and sketch tools for design. She is currently writing a book on empirical methods for HCI research.