The goal of this article is to identify and describe one of the primary functions of aesthetic quality in the design of computer interfaces and visualization tools. We suggest that researchers in library and information science, computing science, and humanities computing can derive advantages in visual research by acknowledging – through their efforts to advance aesthetic quality – that a significant function of aesthetics in this context is to inspire the user’s confidence. This confidence typically serves to create a sense of trust in the interface or tool, and to increase its perceived usability. In turn, this increased trust may result in an increased willingness to engage with the interface, on the basis that it demonstrates an attention to detail that promises to reward increased engagement. In addition to confidence, the aesthetic may also contribute to a heightened degree of satisfaction with having spent time using or investigating the object. In the realm of interface design and visualization research, we propose that these components of the aesthetic function (derived through trust) have implications not only for the quality of interactions, but also for the results of the standard measures of performance and preference.
Published in The Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research, Vol. 2, Issue 1.