You’re probably intimately familiar with the statistics surrounding website aesthetics and customer engagement. Like how 94% of first impressions for a website are design-related, and 52% of users say the main reason why they won’t return to a website is aesthetics. But did you know that user experience is also affected by aesthetics when it comes to software tools?
Really, this all boils down to something called the aesthetic-usability effect. First studied in 1995, this effect demonstrated a stronger correlation between users’ ratings of usability and aesthetics than between aesthetics and actual usability. When people find something to be aesthetically pleasing, they’re more forgiving of small usability flaws, and generally come away feeling like usability is better overall.
So if humans like things that are pretty to look at, and are more likely to use those things — how can you use this to your advantage? By selecting stylish productivity applications for your team to use, you’ll be setting yourself up for higher tool adoption rates, and higher user satisfaction, too. When apps are fun to look at and perceived as easier to use, rather than being a chore to work in them everyday, your team will appreciate day-to-day processes and tackle them more consistently.
Aesthetics aren’t everything, of course. Actual usability and reliability of tools is critical to their success on your team, so finding a balance of visual appeal and functionality is important. Here are some of our favorite examples of tools that live at the intersection of performance and style.
It’s sort of a corporate-world inside joke at this point to talk about “meetings that could have been emails.” Though it may feel like some kind of rite of passage that we should all shrug and endure, Soapbox believes there’s a better way. This app sets out to get your team on the same page for meetings by allowing collaboration on agendas, note-taking, shared feedback, assigning next steps, and more. You can add priorities and insights to ensure your team is all focused on the same goal. And most of all — you can do all of this in an app that is a pleasure to look at and navigate. Soapbox was featured on the inspirational site ReallyGoodUX, and integrates with a ton of tools you probably already use, like Slack and the Google Suite.
There’s nothing pretty about sticky notes — digital or analog — stuck all over your computer with tasks, to-do’s and deadlines. Spread across your inbox, these assignments can clog up inboxes or get lost among the messages. Why not pick up all of those scattered project tasks, and put them into a tool that’s visually appealing and easy to use? CROOW is a project management tool built with team collaboration in mind. It features customizable color-coordinated calendars where you can navigate both your to-do’s, as well as your teammates’. Project approvals are built into the tool, as well, so that as you complete work for your team or a client, you can upload it right into the tool and tag your stakeholders to leave feedback and approve the work. There’s a stock image library, asset storage, request forms for new work, and time tracking — and new updates are developed weekly to maximize performance.
When “beautiful” is in your name, it’s no surprise that aesthetics are a key part of your functionality. For Beautiful.ai, beauty means helping leaders and their teams across industries bring design into their presentations effortlessly. Beautiful.ai is a deck designer you can use to build out appealing, professional looking presentations. The tool features smart templates, real-time design automation, universal updates, and much more. Best of all, you can try out Beautiful.ai for free to see if it’s the right fit for your company before upgrading to a plan with additional functionality.
If you have ever enjoyed a role-playing video game, the aesthetics are familiar: your character has experience and health points it can earn and refill by completing in-game tasks. Not only can these games be visually appealing, but they are incredibly engaging. Habitica is an app that took this kind of interface, and applied it to real-life productivity goals. This app allows users to set goals around work, school, health, creative projects, and really anything you can imagine — and then “level up” in the game as the tasks are completed. You become your own character in the app, and you can win prizes, get new gear, compete with friends, and more to keep yourself motivated. This could be an especially great tool for a team to use if you wanted to compete against one another towards a team goal.
In 2017, Things won the Apple Design Award at WWDC. When Apple believes your product is beautifully designed, you can feel pretty confident you’re onto something. Things is a productivity app for individuals that can keep everything organized, from grocery lists to vacation plans and everything in between. With drag-and-drop organizational ability, calendar view, progress pies and so much more, Things is a great option for a simple, beautiful, easy-to-use app that will help keep you and your team organized outside of the workplace, so you can come to work with a clear head and clean slate.
Caitlin Wittlif is the Content Manager at Sparxoo, a digital marketing agency. She's based in Seattle, WA where she stays up on the latest digital trends in the company of her puppy, Ziggy.