You’re reading an issue of Tuesday UX Trainer, a series that teaches you something new about UX design every week.
One of the first words I learned in UX class was affordance. It sounded fancy and made me feel 10% more hipster as a designer. To oversimplify, an affordance is a signal for something that a user can act upon – for example an underline in web design affords the idea of text that can be clicked on.
In this issue, we get into the nitty-gritty of affordances. Do you feel 10% cooler already?
If you haven’t heard of Joel Spolsky, then you’ve probably heard of StackOverflow – the internet’s most popular programming Q&A website.
Joel’s oldie-but-goodie article explains how affordances help bridge the gap between the software UI and users’ mental models of how things should work.
There are many conventions and mental models I took for granted, especially with “desktop” and “folders.”
Read the article for a trip down UI memory lane (especially the bit about the Microsoft “briefcase”):
2. Why is the blue tap colder than the white one? (Discussion)
Speaking of StackOverflow, here’s an interesting discussion on StackExchange – the expert Q&A community for dozens of topics like UX, design, and mo’.
The user’s question about temperature knobs reminds me of the types of questions children ask sometimes – 100% valid and makes you wonder how things got to be the way they are. Even if it’s something as mundane as temp colors.
Affordances are such an important thing to nail down when you’re designing interactions, and fortunately there’s a quick (but actionable) course around the topic.
UX Designer Rex Hartson teaches you the 5 most common types of affordances (+ how to use them), and also how to avoid false affordances that confuse users.
I dig this course because there’s plenty of visual examples to make sense of it all.
UX course here: Affordances and Their Importance to UX Practitioners
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Oz / UX Coach @ UXBeginner.com