An introduction to interaction design
An introduction to interaction design

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

An introduction to interaction design

Affordance

This is the way in which the perceivable characteristics of an object, such as shape, size, location, colour or texture, signal the way in which the object can be used. This applies to both physical and, by similarity, virtual objects. For example, a physical button affords to be pushed down; similarly, the virtual representation of a button on a website evokes the affordance possessed by the physical object it represents, thus letting the user know that they can press it (i.e. click on it).

It is important to consider that the extent to which the characteristics of an object communicate certain affordances depends on who the user is. For example, the iconic representation of functions is only useful if the user has the ability to recognise virtual objects as referring to physical ones familiar to them – for example, a virtual button will afford pushing (through clicking on it) only if the user recognises the icon of the button in the first place. This is a particularly important consideration, for example, when designing interfaces for very young children or for people from very different cultures. Indeed, affordance can be described as a special form of consistency between the characteristics of an interface and the characteristics of its user.

TM356_1

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371