If you wanted to put designs in front of users and test how they feel about the visual designs look and feel. What questions could you ask to explore how users feel without being leading?

7 Answers 7


I think it is very difficult to tell if a visual design is good or bad but you can measure if your design communicates the tone you intend. What we use at work is something similar to what the BBC used for their Glass Wall project and, I guess, it could be to what @DaveSenden refers to.

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With the help of this grid you can measure the emotional response, we just give users this as part of the user tests, asking to rate the website based on this "soft" measurements.

The grid will help you find averages and the answers will be positive if you find clear patterns.

Here you can see a terrific document about how the BBC used this method.


This can be tricky because asking specific open questions will result in different answers for every user, especially if asking about visual design. You might want to let them do a Hedonic/Utilitarian assessment on your design. This is a list of opposite statements with a Liker-scale assessment. For example: Exciting _ _ _ _ _ Dull, Useful _ _ _ _ _ Useless

There is a standard list of statements that you can ask of the user but I can't seem to find it quickly.


You could use the User Experience Questionnaire (UEQ) which asks for over 18 items regarding aesthetics, experience, effiency, ... You can download the free survey here.

And UserFocus has a good article about this matter and how to analyse the data later on.


I would employ a technique that they use in rubrics/reviews; ask them questions that guide them to think about the design and then ask them to take a side.

For example:

  1. Use adjectives to describe the visual design.
  2. How do you feel about the design: love/like/indifferent/dislike/hate

While some might argue that this approach forces the user to be too critical/objective whereas emotions are more freeform and "pure", I like it because it gives me tangible things to work towards when I iterate on the design.


The best questions are no questions at all. And quite frankly, how your users feel about a UI is unimportant. How well it facilitates their task and/or draws them in is important.

Your UX is ultimately an attempt to entice and facilitate a user in completing a certain task. To test a user in a minimally biased manner, you need a sample group with a back-story to let loose on the interface. The UX that generates the most task completions or the most efficient task completions (depending on your own goal) is the better UX.

I would tend to use Google as a case study. Their initial UI was simple and obvious. It wasn't pretty, and it did not evoke a positive emotional response. But, it was the "right" UI to entice users and facilitate their task.

Subsequent modifications of Google's UX's have been done with AB testing to the best of my knowledge. They present an alternate UX to some small percentage of users and determine whether it increases goal-completion over time. If it does, it's the better UX. Very few, if any, questions need to be asked.

Reiterating the point: The user's opinion doesn't matter. User opinions do little in predicting behavior. And you ultimately care about behavior.

  • I agree with "best questions are no questions at all" but disagree with "how users feel about a UI is unimportant". The emotional aspect of software is a big factor in it's successfulness. Utility is still important, but given 2 options with equal utility, other factors will determine which is more successful.
    – obelia
    Nov 13, 2012 at 17:01
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    Oh, I don't disagree at all that the user's emotional response is relevant. The point is simply that the user's impression of their emotions (feeling and summation thereof) is unimportant. This is particularly true when the user is biased by a question or asked to give feedback in a particular format. The best measure of a "good" emotional response is a high rate of goal-completion, which includes enticement.
    – svidgen
    Nov 13, 2012 at 17:06
  • And it very well may be, for a particular application, that the "prettier" interface is better, given the audience and/or purpose of the application. I tend to think fewer clicks are better, so I'll often cite Google as the penultimate UI/UX example. But, in some applications, a less efficient path through a prettier or "happier" interface evokes a better [emotional] response. We simply can't determine that with any accuracy by actually asking the users.
    – svidgen
    Nov 13, 2012 at 17:09
  • svidgen, the question is about evaluating the look and feel of a design, not the usability of an interface. For that reason, I think that it makes sense to ask the users.
    – Pep López
    Nov 13, 2012 at 23:29
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    Sure. But, I would still insist that the worst option for determining how users feels is to ask them. It's an option, to be sure; but it is not a good option if you expect the input to yield a meaningful change in design. The design the users feel the "best" about is the one that entices them to use it, even if this enticement occurs on a non-conscious level (it does).
    – svidgen
    Nov 14, 2012 at 2:22

Some time ago I read an article of Paul Boag that suggests two techniques to test the design of a website:

  • Flash testing. Its goal is to judge the weighting and emphasis of the design. To achieve that, it is shown for a few seconds to the users and then you can ask them questions such as How many items of the page can you remember?.
  • Emotional response. Its goal is to know how the users perceive the personality of a given design. As Dave and Alexis mentioned before, you can ask the users to choose adjectives that best describe the design's character.

You will find more details in the original article: Design Testing, by Paul Boag.


You can try WAMMI (Website Analysis and Measurement Inventory). It's in multiple languages and covers five sub scales- Attractiveness, Controllability, Efficiency, Helpfulness and Learnability)


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