Development of measurement instrument for visual qualities of graphical user interface elements (VISQUAL): a test in the context of mobile game icons

Henrietta Jylhä, Juho Hamari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


Graphical user interfaces are widely common and present in everyday human–computer interaction, dominantly in computers and smartphones. Today, various actions are performed via graphical user interface elements, e.g., windows, menus and icons. An attractive user interface that adapts to user needs and preferences is progressively important as it often allows personalized information processing that facilitates interaction. However, practitioners and scholars have lacked an instrument for measuring user perception of aesthetics within graphical user interface elements to aid in creating successful graphical assets. Therefore, we studied dimensionality of ratings of different perceived aesthetic qualities in GUI elements as the foundation for the measurement instrument. First, we devised a semantic differential scale of 22 adjective pairs by combining prior scattered measures. We then conducted a vignette experiment with random participant (n = 569) assignment to evaluate 4 icons from a total of pre-selected 68 game app icons across 4 categories (concrete, abstract, character and text) using the semantic scales. This resulted in a total of 2276 individual icon evaluations. Through exploratory factor analyses, the observations converged into 5 dimensions of perceived visual quality: Excellence/Inferiority, Graciousness/Harshness, Idleness/Liveliness, Normalness/Bizarreness and Complexity/Simplicity. We then proceeded to conduct confirmatory factor analyses to test the model fit of the 5-factor model with all 22 adjective pairs as well as with an adjusted version of 15 adjective pairs. Overall, this study developed, validated, and consequently presents a measurement instrument for perceptions of visual qualities of graphical user interfaces and/or singular interface elements (VISQUAL) that can be used in multiple ways in several contexts related to visual human-computer interaction, interfaces and their adaption.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)949–982
Number of pages34
JournalUser Modeling and User-Adapted Interaction
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Adaptive user interfaces
  • Aesthetics
  • Design guidelines
  • Graphical user interface
  • Measurement instrument
  • Questionnaire

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications


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