What features are important for democracy from a citizens’ perspective? How do citizens’ views of what democracy should be translate into their day-to-day evaluation of real-existing institutions? These questions have gained a renewed interest in scholarly debates as the notion of democracy as a multi-layered and contested concept has become dominant. Existing research assesses what views of democracy citizens hold and how they combine into different models, but they tell us little about what citizens prefer when they cannot maximize all dimensions at the same time. We shed light on this question by analyzing citizens’ evaluations of different governance arrangements that vary with respect to their input-, throughput- and output-legitimacy and their formal authority. We draw on data from an online-conjoint experiment conducted in eight metropolitan areas in France, Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. We find, first, that output-legitimacy is the most important driver for citizens’ choice of a governance arrangement. Second, we find that the importance citizens attribute to different dimensions of these governance bodies is a function of their more general views of democracy. Yet, third, the output-dimension is the most important driver for citizens’ choice of a governance arrangement, irrespective of their views of democracy. Our findings suggest that political actors and institutions can gain legitimacy primarily through the provision of “good output”. However, democratic procedures in the form of input- and throughput-legitimacy remain important traits of democratic governance.