Tag Archives: affordance

“IxD Exercise: Apply Affordances” Grades

26 Jan

The grades for last week’s assignment “IxD Exercise: Apply Affordances” have been posted on TheCN.com. You can also find a Dropbox link to the graded version of your assignment with my feedback in the instructor comments.

Overall, I was impressed with the assignments and how thorough many of you were. The uses of constraints in this assignment were particularly thoughtful, as many people recognized how vital it is to prevent user error when they are about to spend real money. Also, many of you went above and beyond in order to make the gift card buying process enjoyable to users. Things like playful (but purposeful) animations and uses of affordances when entering gift card information and messages were great. Also, something as simple as saying “Thank you!” at the end of the transaction show me that you really took the time to think through the assignment and the interaction.

If you lost points, it was most like because you didn’t clearly explain how the concepts of affordance, constraints, and mental models were applied to your design. I’m looking for clear, concise explanations of design choices.

Again, I’ve left feedback for your assignments in the instructor comments. Please feel free to send me any questions you might have, and great job everyone!

LA1: Affordance – Grades

22 Jan

The grades have been posted for the first lab assignment over the concept of affordance.

Overall, I was impressed with how many of you grasped the concept so quickly. Affordance can be difficult to understand and distinguish from symbols and other visual cues. As a class, you really seemed to nail affordance examples in the physical space. Things like door handles are shaped to the human hand – small enough for wrapping the fingers, grasping, and turning. Things like bars on doors beckon an individual to push. Handles on the “smart boards” in the classroom indicate that they might be moved (though I’m terrified to try).

Some things that people struggled with – the signs outside of rooms that indicate room number, name, etc., are not examples of affordance. Also, many of the digital examples of affordance could have used more explaining. You may have lost points if your explanation said something like “It looks like _________. Humans know it looks like _______. Therefore, it can _________.” It’s good to be concise, but please make sure that it is explicitly clear what you’re trying to explain to me. If you lost points, it was likely due to lack of clarity in your explanation, or that 1 or 2 of your examples did not properly display affordance.

If further clarification is needed on the concept of affordance, please check this article from the Nielsen/Norman Group and be sure to watch the video below. Also, please refer to this blog post from a previous year of this class for more examples of affordance (with cats!).


Spring’15 class notes Day 2: Intro to UCD

15 Jan

Here’s what I would hope you remember from today’s class:

  • user-centered design as a new way of thinking:
    • moving from “meh, it works” to user delight ♥︎
    • moving from “user is stupid” to user error = poor design
    • moving from “slap an interface on it” to designing from the ground up in a user-centered fashion – not only “what it looks like“, but also “how it works“.
  • goals of user-centered design: product should work, no errors, no complaints, even be fun and delightful; it should be easy to learn – INTUITIVE
  • we can make INTUITIVE happen with the help of affordances/constraints and mental models. Please see the slides used in class (some new slides added after class to clarify this last point):

Another thing I’d like you to remember about affordances is that, at least in the physical world, they depend upon the size and shape of one’s body. The same object can communicate different affordances to people vs cats, for example. The slides below illustrate this point:

Please do make sure you understand the concepts of affordance/constraints and mental models and how they can help us create designs that are so easy to learn that they seem intuitive. Ask as many questions as you need until you feel very comfortable with these concepts.

Affordance and the body

24 Jan

It is my pleasure to share with you these slides I created to illustrate the fact that:

the perception of affordance depends on the nature of the body.

Creatures with different bodies perceive different affordances. See below the difference in cats’ vs humans’ perceptions of affordances:

Affordances explained

19 Apr

In this brief video (under 2 min.) Donald Norman, who brought the concept of “affordances” into HCI, explains it:

Please let me know in the comments if this helps your understanding of this concept. Also let me know what other questions you have about it.