I'm currently weighing up a variation of designs for the same task, there are two standout designs, let's call them 'Design A' and 'Design B', however they are both quite different.

Design A is efficient in the way that the user would, potentially, be able to complete the task very quickly. However, Design A is slightly cluttered and a bit compressed. It doesn't look as clean in comparison to Design B.

Design B is elegant in the way that completing the task is very clean and a joyful experience. Although, Design B would take a fraction longer than Design A, it is important to note that the difference is quite small. Another point worthy of consideration is that Design B is intuitive but does not use 'standard' interactions, this means it would be a bit harder to learn for some, possibly older, users.

My question is two part:

Is there any available research or guidelines about performance and overall best UX when comparing such design differences (efficiency vs elegance)?

If you were to test these two variations on users, what indications/measurements would you look for?

I have already taken into account what has been given in the answer to this question about efficient vs intuitive. Whilst it was helpful it doesn't take into account elegance nor how to measure these in a user test.

1 Answer 1


Sadly UX design is never formulaic, it depends on your business objective and also branding.

Efficient vs Beautiful design has been the biggest dilemma, but bear in mind that there is Aesthetic-Usability Effect (https://www.nngroup.com/articles/aesthetic-usability-effect/) which that beautiful design is preferred than an efficient one. The definition of beautiful is however completely subjective. Do user testing, hear what they say out loud, look at task completion rate and speed.

One thing I learned is that for tasks which is performed in high frequency in a session or if it is generally repetitive (e.g. admin/list management, bulk actions preferred) efficient UI is a must. And for curated experience, strengthening your brand and retaining customer is more important, with this as long as users are delighted, your usability issues are easier to forgive.

  • Very nice article. I didn't know about the aesthetic-usability effect. Apr 13, 2018 at 12:18

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