In Defense of Eye Candy

There are quite a few nice takeaways from Stephen P. Anderson's article in A List Apart, a discussion in defense of the value of visual design beyond more than just aesthetic skinning of functionality. I like this one where he flips the notion that things are enjoyable because of how they function by saying:

[T]hings that are enjoyable will be easy to use and efficient."

This is connected with the user's belief that attention to design detail is related to quality. This notion was tested by Don Norman and written about in the book Emotional Design. In it, Norman explains how our brains work:

[W]hen we are relaxed, our brains are more flexible and more likely to find workarounds to difficult problems. In contrast, when we are frustrated and tense, our brains get a sort of tunnel vision where we only see the problem in front of us.

Anderson writes that the most direct way to influence decisions or perception is through the emotions. The final point is that user experiences should integrate form and function holistically, or as Frank Lloyd Write puts it, "“form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union.” I like that.