Affordances: Designing Intuitive User Interfaces
How This Course Will Help Your Career
What You’ll Learn
- What affordance is, and how to apply it to create intuitive and usable products
- The role of affordance in Human-Computer Interaction
- How to distinguish between real and perceived affordances and avoid usability problems in your designs
- How to use concepts such as visibility, findability, constraints, mapping, feedback, and conceptual models to improve the usability of a product
Affordances are a key concept for designers. If you want to build products that are intuitive and easy to use, fully understanding the relationship between the human mind and technology is crucial. An “affordance” refers to the possibility of an action on an object; for instance, we say that an elevator button affords being pressed, and a chair affords being sat on. The concept was popularized by HCI (human-computer interaction) expert Don Norman in the late 1980s, and it has since played an essential role for user experience professionals and researchers. Understanding this term is essential for anyone who wants to get a deeper appreciation of what it means for a product to be “intuitive.”
Taking this course will teach you both the theory of affordances and also how to build instantly perceptible affordances into your own designs. Your users should be able to identify the actions afforded by a design with speed and accuracy. Thus, the better you can make your affordances, the more likely you will prevent the user from becoming frustrated (which can happen very quickly). In order to achieve this, you as a designer must appreciate how users perceive the world and how experience, context, culture, constraints and other factors affect our ability to detect the possibilities of actions on offer. This is at the heart of why those interested in a design career and established designers alike must gain a firm grounding in 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 (UX) design. Along the way, we look at the affordances of objects in the real world and screen-based interfaces so as to reinforce the concepts and principles covered in each lesson. You will soon realize how vital a solid grasp of affordances is—the name of the game is to make designs that users can take to naturally and without having to hesitate to ask themselves, “What happens if I do this?”.
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Is This Course Right for You?
This is an advanced-level course on design and usability, and it is targeted at designers and non-designers who are interested in how affordances affect usability:
- UX designers seeking to gain in-depth theoretical and practical knowledge of affordances and how they affect usability
- Project managers and software engineers looking to learn about how the affordances in a design can improve or impede its usability
- Entrepreneurs who want to take a deep dive into how to design a product to be usable and intuitive
- Newcomers to design who are considering to make a switch to UX design
Courses in the Interaction Design Foundation are designed to contain comprehensive, evidence-based content, while ensuring that the learning curve is never too steep. All participants will have the opportunity to share ideas, seek help with tests, and enjoy the social aspects afforded by our open and friendly forum.
Learn and Work with a Global Team of Designers
You’ll join a global community and work together to improve your skills and career opportunities. Connect with helpful peers and make friends with like-minded individuals as you push deeper into the exciting and booming industry of design.
Lessons in This Course
- Each week, one lesson becomes available.
- There’s no time limit to finish a course. Lessons have no deadlines.
- Estimated learning time: 15 hours 42 mins spread over 5 weeks.
Lesson 0: Welcome and Introduction
Lesson 1: An Introduction to Affordances
Lesson 2: Types of Affordance
Lesson 3: Bill Gaver's Concept of Affordances
Lesson 4: Rex Hartson's Concept of Affordances
Lesson 5: Affordances and Usability Principles
Lesson 6: A Summary of Affordances and Related Concepts
Lesson 7: Course Certificate, Final Networking, and Course Wrap-up
This course is part of 1 learning path:
How Others Have Benefited
Jeppe N. Saxtorph, Denmark
“I found this course very neatly executed in terms of the course material, questions at the learning flow. Thank you IDF!”
Mohit Bakshi, India
“It is an amazing topic that I read in this course, and I got many of my questions answered. I like it, thanks.”
Sudarshan Shettigar, India
“It's great to learn the term "Affordance" and the science behind it. It always existed in my actions but after learning it, now whatever actions I do I emphasize the affordance the object had offered me in real and virtual space.”
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