About affordance

What is affordance?

An ‘affordance’ is a single attribute of an object that allows the user to carry out an action. In other word, an affordance is often taken as a relation between an object, or an environment, and an organism that affords the opportunity for that organism to perform an action. For example, a bulb can give our light, maybe a flowerpot. It is mean that one thing have a lot of function. However, too many function we need to think about.Therefore, affordance as a basic tools can help people see the world and achieve our goals.

Affordances have two types: ACTUAL and PERCEIVED. Don Norman distinguished between two types. On the one hand, physical objects raise real affordances. It is mean that  user can through touch, sight, sound and smell or taste. On the other hand, graphical object should be considered as having perceived affordances. They only in the virtual world. In the video, we can see that a book we can read, or use a paper make notes, even if make a mark when we fold one page. It is real. Therefore, real affordances inspire affordances in human-computer interaction. It can help us quickly establish a way to solve problem.

What are the affordances of a contemporary smartphone?

We use our smartphone everyday. Why we use it? In today, phone is not only to take a call or send a massage.It is actual aspect. We can use it play a funny game, take a picture, listen a song and so on. It is perceived aspect.Smartphone can do everything. It is same to HCI, some intelligent app can make our life different. Let’s think about if we without smartphone just one day. Actually I can not leave my phone 1 hour.

In summary, the distinction between actual and perceived affordances is an important point. Designer need to consider both aspects.


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