I originally asked this question at Graphic Design StackExchange about evaluating the aesthetics of a visual design, but since then found a really interesting study that I thought I should share with the UX designers here as well.
I saw this paper that goes into some detail about the study of website design appeal which I think some people might find interesting. It points out some general trends between different demographics that are worth noting:
- females liked colorful websites more, and colorless websites less, than males.
- both genders reached their peak appeal at a similar low to moderate complexity level, but females disliked simple websites more.
- adults aged 41 years and above liked websites with a higher colorfulness and complexity than younger age groups.
- negative correlation between education level and colorfulness, as well as between education level and complexity. Independent of age, highly educated users prefer less complex and less colorful websites than others.
- a user’s geographical location is an additional factor influencing appeal.
I'd definitely like to know what people think about the research design and the findings, and whether it is similar to their instinct and experience with website content and visual design.