‘Complexity in simplicity’

the effects of visual complexity on consumers’ comprehension of product innovations

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Designers are frequently involved in embodying product innovations. It is challenging to embody really new products (RNPs) because
consumers often have difficulty comprehending them. This study explores the value of visual complexity for designing RNPs. In study 1, an experiment was conducted (n = 77) to test the effects of visual complexity on consumers’comprehension of incrementally new products (INPs) and RNPs. The resultsrevealed different effects for INPs and RNPs. Specifically, a more complex appearance triggers congruence with the functions of a RNP, which facilitatesconsumers’ comprehension. For INPs, no effects for visual complexity were
found. Based on the positive effect of visual simplicity on consumers’ aesthetic response to product design, the design strategy ‘complexity in simplicity’ is proposed. In study 2, we asked experienced designers (n = 6) to apply this design strategy. Results showed that they can design RNPs using the‘complexity in simplicity’ and possible ways to achieve this are explained.