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UX Design

The halo effect in the digital world and its UI consequences

Websites and mobile applications affect us in many ways. Using psychological mechanisms allows the designers to make an impression on the user or persuade them to take proper action. Both in marketing and user experience design, cognitive biases are often used. The halo effect is one of the most interesting phenomena. When it comes to digital design, aesthetic-usability effect seems to be its counterpart. How can you use it in favour of your digital product?



Fine feathers make fine birds

The halo effect works every time you assume that a person who made a positive impression on you has positive traits in other, separate areas. This means that attractive people are considered more competent and intelligent than others. This controversial phenomenon is visible in many environments. It turns out that teachers tend to think that a well-behaved student will also perform better. Also employers are victims of this kind of bias, as attractive people find jobs more easily.

Fake it till you make it 

The same mechanism is easily noticed when it comes to digital products. Kate Moran from Niels Norman Group explains, that users react positively to attractive visual design, which makes them more tolerant of minor usability mistakes. It is worth to remember while designing websites or mobile apps. Kate mentions a study which showed that one user who struggled with a website’s functionality still judged it positively as they liked the visual design.  Kate Moran emphasises that the perfect scenario is always high usability supported by an aesthetic interface but you can’t avoid some oversights – then it’s better when your user is thrilled with the look of your website or app. 


Kurosu, Masaaki; Kashimura, Kaori, Apparent Usability vs. Inherent Usability: Experimental Analysis on the Determinants of the Apparent Usability, 1995

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