UX Master Thesis

Can aesthetics be used to support and encourage levels of trust in user profiles within organisations?


This thesis looks at the effects of aesthetic appeal on an individual’s propensity to trust as it relates to user profiles within the context of an organisations knowledge sharing system.

An extensive review was carried out of the literature for knowledge management, trust and aesthetic appeal. It identifies the current state of the art regarding knowledge management practices and issues, the nature and various dimensions of trust, how it is defined and measured, and how aesthetic and visual appeal is understood to affect an individual’s perceptions of information systems.

A series of user research studies were undertaken and used to inform the design of 16 artefacts, comprised of 4 Typeface variables and 4 Colour palettes variables. A preliminary user research study made up of one quantitative experiment with 1046 respondents and a quantitative study of 22 respondents, was used to inform the main study containing 4 experiments.

The main study involved a quantitative experiment for aesthetic appeal with 1384 respondents using a custom-built test tool, two qualitative experiments with 17 respondents and an A/B eye tracking study which involved 19 respondents. The study found that aesthetic appeal had a bearing on an individual’s propensity to trust but could not say conclusively, due to a lack of statistical significance.