Beyond Aesthetics: Seeing Form and Believing in Function

Open access


Research on the effect of design has tended to emphasize the aesthetic dimension of product form and its global, spontaneous, and even unconscious influence on overall product evaluation. But apart from the aesthetic aspect of design, product form has additional effects on consumer perception.

When a product’s design suggests a particular level of functional performance, it can alter consumer judgment, even in the presence of ostensibly more objective written information.

This finding does not only apply to a product’s overall impression, but also to how consumers evaluate individual product features. For a target feature, the presence of pictures altered the relative functional performance ratings in favor of the presented designs, but for non-target features the presenceof the picture had no effect. Hence, product form can communicate functional performance independently of global attractiveness. These insights have important implications for design creation and communication as well as for consumers. They highlight yet again the importance of close cooperation between product development, marketing and design.