Course Description

"Affordance" is a key concept for designers. If you want to build products that are intuitive and easy to use, it is crucial to fully understand the relationship between the human mind and technology. The concept of Affordance was popularised by Don Norman in the late 80s, and has played an essential role for user experience professionals and researchers ever since. Understanding this term is essential for anyone who wants to get a deeper understanding of what it means for a product to be "intuitive".

The term "affordance" was introduced by perceptual psychologist James J. Gibson in "The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception", and has since been applied by practitioners and researchers of User Experience as a means of assessing, evaluating, and generating designs.

Taking this course will teach you both the theory of affordances and also teach you how to design instantly perceptible affordances in your own designs. Your users should be able to identify the actions afforded by a design with speed and accuracy; in order to achieve this, designers must appreciate how users perceive the world and how experience, context, culture, constraints and other factors affect our ability to detect the action possibilities on offer. This is at the heart of why those interested in a design career and established designers alike must learn the meaning and potential application of affordances as a designer's tool.

Throughout the course we identify the major milestones in the evolution of the term affordance, and outline how it applies to practical User Experience design. Along the way we look at the affordances of objects in the real-world and screen-based interfaces, to reinforce the concepts and principles covered in each lesson.

Lesson-by-lesson breakdown

Lesson 0 - Welcome and Meet Your Peers

Lesson 1 - An Introduction to Affordances

  • Affordances and HCI
  • Gibson's Concept of Affordances
  • Norman's Concept of Affordances
  • Lesson Discussion

Lesson 2 - Types of Affordance

  • Distinguishing types of affordance: A Brief Summary
  • Examples of Real Affordances
  • Examples of Perceived Affordances
  • Lesson Discussion

Lesson 3 - Bill Gaver's Concept of Affordances

  • Bill Gaver's Concept of Affordances
  • Perceptible Affordance
  • Hidden Affordance
  • False Affordance
  • Lesson Discussion

Lesson 4 - Rex Hartson's Concept of Affordances

  • Hartson's Further Distinctions
  • Cognitive Affordances
  • Physical Affordances
  • Sensory Affordances
  • Functional Affordances
  • Lesson Discussion

Lesson 5 - Affordances and Usability Principles

  • Factors Affecting Affordances: Brief Summary
  • Visibility
  • Findability
  • Constraints
  • Mapping
  • Feedback
  • Conceptual Models
  • Lesson Discussion

Lesson 6 - A Summary of Affordances and Related Concepts

  • Affordances Summary Lesson Item
  • A Summary of Usability Principles and Affordances
  • Exercise
  • Lesson Discussion

Lesson 7 - Course Wrap-up, feedback, and receive your course certificate

Industry-trusted Course Certificate

You earn an industry-trusted Course Certificate once you complete the course - even if you finish the course after the official end date. In other words, as long as you have enrolled in the course you will always be able to finish it and to get a course certificate. You will also have permanent access to the course material, your answers and the discussions.

Course Certificates from the IDF are verifiable and trusted by industry leaders. You can highlight them on your resume, CV, LinkedIn profile or your website.

Course Certificate

Our courses and Course Certificates are trusted by these industry leaders, who have taken up company memberships with the IDF:

Accenture Adobe GE Philips SAP