I haven’t heard the term affordance before, but onces I realized this weeks reading was about this new concept it immediately made me think about “afford” about being able to do something or to provide or support, which does have a connection know that I know the meaning.
This term was first introduced by James Gibson as a way”to denote action possibilities provided to the actor by the environment”, which for me it seems quite complicated to understand, but basically is the interaction or relationship between a person and its environment. According to the Oxford dictionary, affordance is ” A property of an object or an aspect of the environment, especially relating to its potential utility, which can be inferred from visual or other perceptual signals; (more generally) a quality or utility which is readily apparent or available.” Thus, affordances allow actions, for instance, a pen afford writing, a microphone affords singing or talking, a book affords reading.
in 1980, Don Norman introduced affordances in the design world and it directly related the term with perception as a possibility of action. The whole point of perception is to obtain meaningful information that triggers an action in the environment. Basically in design, this creates “strong visual clues to the operation of things” (Norman, 1988) Affordance in design is related to the functionality of things and what people can do with an object in front of them.
Affordances are especially relevant for Human-Computer Interaction because people have to respond to the interactions. The idea is to make things clearer through perception and thus make them easier to use and intuitive. If you think about an Ipad for instance, they afford so many things, the possibilities are limitless and this is the success of the device, not even the designers who created it were aware of all the things you could do with it, and how it is actually used nowadays. An ipad afford to watch videos, it afford to take notes, it affords to keep a calendar, it affords to call and video chat, to take photos/videos and to store them and share them, it affords to browse the web, it affords to play, it affords to store documents and different content, it affords to read and write and it also affords to create, to draw, sketch and paint. It also affords to chat, to view Facebook, Instagram, twitter and interact with social media in general. iPads also afford to play music, to even create songs, to edit videos and make movies and to record. Moreover iPads afford to organize and plan, to keep track of finances, to plan journeys, and to read emails. Basically an iPad affords infinite possibilities, it is only a medium that allow people to use it however they want according to their needs, because new apps with new functions are always emerging. Just look at the new iPad Pro, the new medical App with 3D innovative technology is so detailed that it affords to learn about human biology and it also provides doctors with a tool for them to practice surgeries, examine the human body by making digital incisions and tearing it apart to actually understand its complexity. This app affords users to navigate through the human body, to cut, rotate and get a view from different perspectives, It could change the way medicine is perceived and how it is currently being taught.
Interaction Design Foundation (2015) Affordances pp1-6 (Accessed: 18 November 2015)
Interaction Design (2011) Affordances. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NK1Zb_5VxuM (Accessed: 18 November 2015).
Norman, D. jnd.org ‘Affordances and Design’. Available at: http://jnd.org/dn.mss/affordances_and_design.html (Accessed: 18 November 2015).