From CS 160 Fall 2011
- The Psychopathology of Everyday Things. Chap 1. The Psychology of Everyday Things. Don Norman
Do you think affordances are cultural? Are they different for people with disabilities?
Visibility is a problem for small devices, like say, watches. Can you think of some workarounds?
Give some examples of well-executed and novel mappings in controls that you have seen.
Please post your critiques/commments on the required readings below. To do that, first login by using your user name and password, then click the "edit" tab on the top part of this page (between the "discussion" page and the "history" page), New to wikis? Read the Wiki editing guide. . Hint - Please put a whole line == ~~~~ == (literally) at the beginning of your submitted critique, so the wiki system will index, sign and date your submission automatically.
Wei Jiang 14:58, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
In many cases affordances related to customs are cultural but in modern society, electronic devices are increasingly more intuitive for people of all cultures. For example, people all over the developed world are able to use electronic devices. On the other hand, many things are designed mainly for people who are right handed. Thus things such as mice, not reconfigured, might be difficult for some group of people. Affordances for people with disabilities may be different since some products are not necessarily designed with the handicapped in mind.
As for visibility issues in small devices, workarounds can be separated into two categories--simplicity or increased functionality. For a watch in particular, one can have large digital time or just have a screen without any numbers (just hands, such as the one used in Mondaine Swiss watches for railway train stations). Another way would be to have a touchscreen that zooms in and out.
One example of well designed control I saw was having the buttons for radio and mp3 music on the steering wheel. It minimizes the distance the driver has to move his hand off the wheel and makes it safer.
Phoebe 08:33, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
I think that while most affordances are universal, there are some that are cultural. For example, an American might see a mat and immediately think that it affords a spot on which to wipe one's feet; however, in some other cultures, mats are used for sitting on around a table, and someone from that culture would immediately think of that affordance upon seeing a mat. It's impossible for people not to bring their past interactions into a new interaction, and culture is one of the biggest influences in a person's life. I would also agree that affordances are different for people with disabilities because they bring a whole different set of experiences into their interactions. For example, someone who is deaf may not realize the musical affordance of a guitar, but they may jump instead to its affordance as something to hit stuff with because it is easily graspable on one end and has a large surface area on the other end.
A workaround for the problem of low visibility on small devices is to have a screen that points out what each button is for. Something else to consider is making the controls intuitive. For example, when setting the time on a watch, it makes more sense to have the buttons that set the time ahead or backward one on top of the other, instead of left and right. This is easier for people to understand because people are accustomed to the idea that "more is up," so setting the watch ahead is like adding more time to the current time, so it should be the up button. Setting the watch backward is like taking away time, so it should be the button below.
The iPhone does a really great job of making its mappings intuitive. Its one button in combination with different swiping motions is pretty much all you need to do anything on it. Its easy for people to figure out the connection between swiping their screen and seeing the next screen come up. Its also easy for users to grasp that pinching your fingers together across the screen zooms out, while spreading your fingers across the screen zooms in. Many games for the iPhone also make creative use of its ability to tell if its tilted and utilize this feature in their controls. Overall, the iPhone does a really great job of keeping things simple and apparent to the user.
Ian Sarmiento 14:25, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
Affordances are definitely cultural. Several mannerisms in some well-defined cultures are not only accepted but encouraged - in Chinese households, it's polite to slurp one's noodles as a sign of gratitude for being served long, tasty noodles, whereas in many Western households children are admonished for the behavior. Affordances are different in regards to the disabled since those affordances MUST be made in order for their own wellbeing.
Visibility workarounds can be solved with simpler, less cluttered mappings. Watch faces can refrain from using Roman Numerals and use plain numbers in order to make each number around the clockface more readable.
As much flak as it gets, I feel stock Android phones have good mappings - the crowning feature being the universal back button. iPhone applications that don't rely on swipe gestures have very different methods of returning to a screen previously visited, but I like how (usually) no matter what app I'm in, that button with return me to the previous screen.
Eric Shih 21:32, 17 September 2011 (PDT)
I definitely believe that affordances are cultural. Given the definition that affordances are fundamental properties of how an object is used, it follows that the way an object is used is determined by one's culture. For example, in first-world countries it is common knowledge that a Xerox box is for storing items. However, give a Xerox box to someone like Tarzan, and it could easily become a toy or a chair. Give it to a dinosaur and watch the box become food. Another good example would be to compare the actions of a baby to that of an adult, given an object of interest. Babies have not yet been influenced by a culture, so their actions are likely to be very similar across cultures, probably involving eating or playing with an object. Adults from different cultures, on the other hand, are likely to use the object in a way representative of their respective cultures. As for people with disabilities, I believe affordances can be different, depending on your type of disability. For example, a blind person may feel a dictionary, but unable to see it, uses it as an elevation stand or footrest. A person who is deaf may see a boombox, but unable to hear it, use it as something else, such as a seat. I think that people with disabilities can be categorized as a subcategory of culture, and thus reinforce the idea that affordances are cultural.
A workaround may be to have an electronic screen that has words and makes actions more visible. For example, there may be only one button, which activates the electronic "Menu" screen, whereas normally that menu would be hidden. If a device is mechanical, spatial distance between a control and what it controls should be small, in order to have a logical correspondence. Another workaround for modern devices would be to have some sort of say a command button, which gives an audio menu from which one can select certain options.In other words, taking advantage of other senses besides the limiting factor of touch can help expand the overall visibility for small devices. The text promotes the usage of natural mappings to improve visibility, by taking advantage of cultural norms and logical usage patterns, such as a control that should move back and forward if what it is controlling moves back and forward.
Newer cars have seat controls that look like the various parts of the seat itself. The controls are arranged like a seat, with one for the headrest, one for the back of the chair, and one for the bottom of the chair. You can move the headrest control only vertically, the backrest control back and forward at an angle (just like the actual chair moves), and the seatrest can either go straight backwards or forwards, or angled up and down. The movement of the controls perfectly correlate with the actual movement of the chair. Many laptops now also have sound bars near the keyboard where it has a - and a + sign, and you slide your finger between the two ends to choose the right level of sound. The two-finger scroll on Macs, and the equivalent bar on non-Mac scrollpads, is another well-designed mapping where moving one's finger up and down correlates to vertical scrolling on the screen.
Leslie Chang 12:55, 18 September 2011 (PDT)
In my opinion, affordances are definitely cultural. For example, think of shoes. Shoes are made for walking but in Asian families, if you wore shoes inside the house, you would be in big trouble. An outsider would think, but you walk inside the house too and thus, should be able to wear shoes. But in Asian families, they would never wear shoes inside the house. Affordances may also be different for people with disabilities because take for example, a person with Down Syndrome. The person may not come to the same conclusion that others have about how the object will be used.
For watches to be more visible, large digital digits could take up the entire screen of the watch instead of the traditional analog watch where all the digits are displayed at the same time. In addition, you could also make the watch into a mini-projector where the user can push a button and the enlarged time would project onto another surface.
An example of a well-designed mapping would be the options on a modern day digital camera. There are icons surrounding a rotatable metal circle that lets you select which option you want. The camera icon obviously means that you can take a picture and the play button means that you can review your taken pictures. The lightning symbol represents the flash option. The video camera icon represents taking a video with the camera. They all seem pretty self-explanatory.
Filbert Hansel 14:22, 18 September 2011 (PDT)
I think so. Take for example the use of toilet. Using water as an affordance to clean self after use is a foreign concept to most westerners. However, this concept comes natural to many asian countries. Therefore, the same goes with people with disabilities. One can imagine that using a wheelchair would obstruct the affordance of a low placed cabinet. Consider also a deaf person trying to figure out a jukebox for the first time.
Use other means to reach people's other senses. There already exists the use of voice to mention the time. A Braille-like surface on the watch can also perform as a solution.
iPhone seems to nail this on its well-behaving navigation system. The use of a single touch to enter an app and a swipe to progress to another screen are very intuitive that those themselves attract people to play with the phone.
Jessica Pan 14:54, 18 September 2011 (PDT)
Affordances are definitely cultural. By definition, affordance i a quality of an object, or an environment, that allows an individual to perform an action. How a person uses or view an object is heavily influenced by her or his environment. This is clearly shown by optical illusions. If a person grew up in an environment with many angles, Westerners, they are more susceptible to illusions using a vanishing point. If we view people with disabilities as a separate culture, then to them, affordances are also cultural.
If we are working with a small device, there are some workarounds for people with visibility issues (assuming blindness). There could be a button on the watch that would state what time it is when pushed. Another workaround (just assuming poor vision) would be that the watch would have a large digital display.
Some examples of well-executed and novel mappings in controls would have to include the iPhone, Blackberry (when it came out)and Angry Birds.
Christopher Chen 15:39, 18 September 2011 (PDT)
Affordances are cultural: if affordances are defined as the properties of how an object is used, then quite clearly differing cultures would use the same object differently. If you give a book written in english to an english speaking man, he will read it. Give the same book to a spanish speaking man, and likely he will find another purpose for it, perhaps for example using it as a stand. Due to the differences between handicapped and non-handicapped people and the way they interact with certain objects, affordances may definitely be different for the two parties.
One way to increase the visibility of the time on a watch would be to modify the sapphire crystal covering the watch face in order to magnify the watch face. The obvious drawback to this solution is that as the crystal is modified to magnify mroe and more the viewing angle becomes less and less.
Mobile phones, notably those in the iOS and Android trees seem to have a well executed and novel mappings in their interfaces, given that they do not possess the standard interfaces of a mouse and physical keyboard. For example, the ability to copy and paste which normally requires a mouse to click and drag has been ported over to both operating systems in a manner such that using it on the mobile OS is not too much of a hassle.
Konigswagger 15:41, 18 September 2011 (PDT)
I think that affordances are cultural. For instance, a vase is something that is often used to hold flowers in some cultures. After flowers are put into the vase, the vase is left to sit and there is little utility for it. In other cultures, a vase might be used as a container for storing and transporting water. Compared to the vase, this culture has a much greater utility of the vase.
For people with disabilities, affordances for different objects are different as well. Because some individuals have disabilities that have to do with one of their senses, an objects affordances having to do with that sense has no utility for them.
One workaround of visibility on small devices is to reduce the number of user interaction possible with the device. For instance, instead of allowing the user to choose their time zone, use the device's geo-location feature to determine this automatically.
Another possible work around this issue is to maybe develop a counterpart program on a computer which will allow a user to familiarize themselves with a larger to use interface and then transition to the smaller device. An example of this might be LoseIt.com, which has an iPad and iPhone application for users to tie to their main account
One example of a well-designed mapping is the climate control slider found in older cars. As you move from left to right, the air increases and there is a graphic right above the slider. Newer cars these days, which opt for electronic everything, do not have very good design. For instance, in some cars, OFF is not indicated by a LED being off, but rather, the LED being orange. Because some systems have an orange LED color scheme, going from car to car, this can be very confusing.
Another well designed mapping is the scroll wheel on a mouse. Scrolling up moves up on the page. Scrolling down scrolls down.
BoYan Li 16:49, 18 September 2011 (PDT)
- I agree with the view point that affordances are cultural. Different things given to different people with various cultural background will be used as different tools. For example, some new technology may be used to improve the citizens' life quality in some countries focusing on development of economy. Instead, it will be used to create new powerful weapon in some countries that are in the war with other countries. Also, a gun is used to protect citizens for the police, while it is used to commit a crime by criminal. As for people with disabilities, I believe that affordances are different, according to the type of disabilities people have. For instance, deaf people could only use an ipod to play games since they can't hear the voice from it. However, blind people would use it to listen to the music instead of playing games.
- For watches, the workaround may be to use a visable menu screen to implement more features into the small device. If the watch only has one button, we also make it have multiple functions. One is that we could make three different "choices" for one button, "single click", "double click" and "click and hold". Or we could make it as two choices, "counterclockwise switch" and "clockwise switch".
- In macbook pro, there are muliple different choices for us to use one hand on the trackpad. One finger is to move the mouse pointer. Two fingers to scroll the page. Three fingers to swipe the pages. Four fingers to show all the windows in a menu. It's very useful and convenient once the user gets used to it.
Sylvia Lin 17:14, 18 September 2011 (PDT)
Affordances describe how something is used, and must be cultural by definition. Different environments cause people to perceive objects differently, resulting in varying types of a functionality for a given object. A cardboard box would probably be used for packaging during a moving session. To other people, though, a box might be a means of staying warm, or providing extra coverage. Affordances will definitely be different for people with disabilities in some cases. A CD cannot offer a deaf person musical entertainment, and a person in a wheelchair would not be able to climb a ladder to reach higher places. These items will thus have a different use for disabled people, or perhaps even no use at all.
Smaller devices means that any additional feature functionality a designer wants to give to a device cannot include adding too many extra physical parts. A simple workaround could be using a screen to choose between different features that a user might want to utilize, like the one described in the reading. This allows everything to be displayed clearly without cluttering the device. Another possibility is to implement features that don't require the user to do anything. For example, a watch can be programmed to directly sync for time (like how a cell phone works) without the user having to choose the hr/min/date.
An example of a well designed mapping would be in some of the older adventure games (such as Monkey Island), each button had a specific function labeled onto it, stating exactly what it did. Older thermostats also had a well designed mapping. Many of the older thermostats only had a slider to slide between the ticks of a given temperature frame. Given the temperature in your house, the thermostat would then turn on the heater or air conditioning to reach your desired temperature.
Kevin Chung-Kai Wang 18:41, 18 September 2011 (PDT)
Affordances are cultural. For example, take console video game controllers. Typically, the buttons closer to the right on the right side of the controller makes it easier for right-handed players to access commonly used commands like jumping or actions (flipped to the left for left-handed users). The buttons nearer the middle, which are harder to reach, are generally used for menus or other modes that are not as commonly used. In the case of 2 joysticks, the left is usually reserved for movement and the other is considered secondary to be used for cameras or other direction-based actions not involved with movement. These controls make up a standard that people who have been involved in the gaming culture for a long time think are obvious, but try teaching others who haven't played many console games to figure it out themselves. Not all of this may come intuitively for them. Affordances are also cultural for people with disabilities. Imagine a blind person trying to use a touchscreen. People who are not blind may be able to figure it out, but a blind person will not be able to see the visual cues they take for granted.
A workaround for watches would be to have a row of small buttons on one side of the watch, and a big button on the other side (the one that is easiest to touch). When that big button is touched, a digital screen will take up the whole of the background of the display, and there will now be room to label the small buttons that line the other side. Click those buttons to navigate through the features, and digitally modify the labels according to the state the watch is currently in. The big button can be used to go "backwards." So if you just click on the big button over and over, it'd simply open and close the digital display.
My tissue box has a well-executed interface. Tissues stick out of the top, which indicates that they are to be pulled out. Because the tissue sticks out from the top, if you pull it the box won't move, whereas it would if the tissue was located on the side or bottom. Those designs would require a way to secure the box, but this design removes that issue without including any other unnecessary features. Once pulled, the next tissue slides out to replace it, a system that utilizes a single user action to serve two important functions: get tissue out, and restore original state. Most of the tissues are kept inside the box to keep them clean until they are about to be used, necessary when people are sick and don't want to use dirty tissues.
Phillip Carpenter 18:59, 18 September 2011 (PDT)
- Affordances are definitely cultural. Different cultures view different objects in different ways. The first thing that someone does whenever they look at anything is judge/perceive it to be what they think it is useful for. One culture views chopsticks as a utensil, another views them as just sticks. How we judge an object is definitely key to its affordance. They are also different for people with a disability for the same reason, a person with a disability might see the use of something different than the way a person without the same disability would
- If a display is too small on some electronic device, a simple workaround is to have some sort of zoom mode. If if is a product like a watch, one idea might be to sell two versions of the product, a normal one, and a more blown up one, which might be less attractive and sleek, but easier to see for people who might need it
- Some good examples of good control mappings are the volume and channel controls on a TV remote. Channels are numbered up and down, just like the up and down arrows on the remote. Whereas the display for volume goes left to right, just like the arrows on the remote. Other examples are all the finger scroll and zoom options which tablets have for simple and easy scroll and zoom use.
Januardo Kusuma 19:50, 18 September 2011 (PDT)
- To me, affordances are cultural. It is not even restrained by cultures, we can also see that everyone sees things differently. One culture sees an object to be used for something while the others see it as for something else. For example, when you have a small bowl of rice, and you are eating it with chopsticks, then say you want to go to the restroom and just stick the chopsticks right into the rice vertically. For some cultures, this is really bad since it means that somebody is dead and you want to honor that person (if I'm not mistaken), as for some other cultures it might mean nothing.
They are also definitely different for people with disabilities. People who are not blind view eye sticks as normal sticks, as for blind people, they view eye sticks as if they were their eyes.
- The only workaround that I could think of is to have a button where it will pronounce the time (this is for people who have a hard time looking at the time because the watch is too small).
- Examples of good design are mouse for computers where it has scroll (obvious, scroll up to go up, down to go down), and the side buttons to navigate through pages (the upper one to go to the next page, the lower one to go back to the previous page). Another one I would say iPhone since it has only one button to press.
Terri Yeh 21:59, 18 September 2011 (PDT)
1. By definition, affordances of objects are the perceived and actual properties of the objects that determine how things can be used. While the actual properties people see are the same (i.e. for a standard watch, we all see a faceplate, some buttons on the side and a watchband), the perceived properties differ with cultures. It may even differ with individuals. For example, if you have never seen a touchscreen product before, you may be confused about how to dial on an iPhone, whereas to people who have played with touchscreen, or at least heard of it somewhere before, it would be a natural response to use the touch pad.
2. The principle of visibility is to make possible operations and the mappings between operation and control visible to users. For a small item like a watch, it is hard to label controls, so users are often in the dark about how to change the time, set an alarm, etc. I would still try to label the controls, but taking into account of the limited spaces, I would use graphic labels instead of words. Maybe put a small alarm clock picture on the button meant for setting an alarm. I would also limit the number of operations to the same number of controls (which means around 4). Even though we are sacrificing some functions, but we are more likely eliminating user confusion and saving money on features that people didn't even know existed or how to get to.
3. Apple Magic Mouse has a great mapping coupled with great designs. Both its interface and its functions are easy to understand. You use it like an old-fashioned mouse, so that's a good mapping between the existing system and the new. To scroll up, you swipe your fingers upward, it's natural. And there's no overwhelming number of controls. In fact there's only three controls on the mouse (or that I count, at least.) An on button, easy. A button for opening the battery slots, easy. And the front of the mouse.
Chetan Surpur 21:21, 18 September 2011 (PDT)
1. I think some affordances are cultural, and some are an inherent property of the material. For example, glass is glass in any culture; it is transparent and easily breakable. Therefore, no matter the culture, glass can be used to see through and can be shattered. But there are some objects that might not have the same meaning in other cultures. For example, if a culture is illiterate and doesn't know how to read or write, then a pencil wouldn't have the same affordance that we're used to. Also, I can see how a knob for someone with the inability of moving their hands would not provide the same affordance as someone who didn't have the inability; therefore, affordances can easily be different for people with disabilities.
2. We can work around the visibility issue for small devices by using tactile and visual feedback as an alternative to immediate visibility. Instead of allowing the user to see what would happen as a result of an action before they try it, which might not be possible with the small device, we can allow them to try the action without fear of an unacceptable or irreversible outcome and see what actually happens.
3. A well-executed mapping in a control that I've seen involves the iPhone's scroll behavior. When you slide your finger up the screen, the content moves with your finger. This is in contrast to what people are used to with scroll wheels; with those, you're moving the scroll wheel instead of the content. But with the iPhone, since you're touching the content directly, scrolling maps directly to scrolling the content.
Warren He 21:32, 18 September 2011 (PDT)
Yeah, they're cultural. I'm not saying they vary from culture to culture though. I'm saying they're learned; they're a product of repeated exposure to many people interacting the same way with the same things. Affordances should be the same for people with disabilities. Mostly, anyway. Maybe a blind guy won't consider the visual properties of a painting, but these cases are limited.
Visibility. This is a trick question. No. There should be no workarounds. Watches are designed to present little information to the user. To make its features better known through the product itself is inappropriate. Besides, this is not that big of a problem anyway, since people usually keep a watch for a long time. Long enough to get used to it.
- arrow keys
- drag and drop file upload
- puppeteer control in Assassin's Creed
Hm, these are all computer related.
Dustin Shean 21:46, 18 September 2011 (PDT)
Affordances can be different for cultures and people with disabilities. This is easy to see with the example of food for cultures. For example when an Asian person sees a staple to their culture, white rice, there are many dishes that come to mind while the mainstream person might only think of things like sushi. Materials should act similar to food.
The biggest problem of small devices is the need to use a small amount of buttons in order to provide many functions. If you make one button that is a menu button that has a clear icon then it will help to lower the problem of functionality. I think watches need to revert back to doing less functionality like the classic watches that just told time and held the date. We could also make the watch face into a touchscreen if we want to keep watches that have a lot of controls. I do not believe this is too far of a reach since there are already digital watches and in movies there are spy watches.
The Blackberry Pearl famous game of brick breaker had a very intuitive mapping. The scroll ball would slide with the pad and you initially would launch the ball by hitting the trackball. Another example is the Mac. Mac computers have become popular for their reputation of making computers easier for the people. All the functionality of the touchpad has become popular and the size of the touchpad matches its functionality. One initial problem with the Mac mouse was that you had to hit the control button along with the click in order tor right click.
Nancy Wang 22:15, 18 September 2011 (PDT)
I think affordances vary for different cultures and people with disabilities. Many objects be perceived differently by many people, so the objects functions would be treated the same way. For something as simple as chopsticks, Asian people use them as utensils for eating food like rice while other cultures don't. For people with disabilities, some objects would probably be near useless to them if the functions of the device itself cannot be perceived like a deaf people using an old fashioned telephone or a blind people using a touchscreen device.
A workaround I could think of for a watch is to have more knobs with clear labels. With my old watch, you use only one knob (depending how much you pull back on it) to adjust the time of day, the day of the week, and the day of the month. If I didn't get the knob to pull back in the correct amount, I would accidently change the wrong setting, which would also mess with my other settings. The solution I see is to have a knob for each function so their don't conflict with each other. For digital watches, I suggest having a menu screen for it so switch to whatever setting you want.
My printer has satisfactory mapping. It contains a menu for me to switch options for configuration such as changing the printing size or depth of ink. It also has buttons labeled cleared for both color and black-colored printing and copying. Though the one problem I have is that sometimes I can't get the scanning function to work correctly, but only because I usually forget since I hardly use this function.
Deryu0502 22:35, 18 September 2011 (PDT)
- Due to the survival of the fittest, all creatures, including human beings, can adapt. Sometimes it is good to adapt, but as mentioned in the book, a lot of times we adapt to things that are not perfect yet we seldom put thoughts on correcting. Thus is affordances cultural? sure. The feedback from an expert verses the feedback from a novice is definitely different.
- If one is to target what the tasks a watch can perform, eliminates the functionalities that are secondary to make the interface more spacious for the important and enlarged themes such as current time.
- turningwheel vs. joystick,
Jie Min Wong 22:31, 18 September 2011 (PDT)
Affordances are definitely cultural. For example, for us, the most natural way to navigate around web interfaces is from left to right because that’s how we read. However, for people whose first language is Arabic language, it’s more natural them to look at stuff from right to left, and thus, their web interfaces look like mirrored versions of ours. (Take a look at the Arabic version of Google and Facebook). People with disabilities need could not operate an instrument or appliances the same way abled people do, so they do have different affordances.
One way we could solve the visibility problem for small devices is by having simpler and more intuitive user interfaces. For example, on analog watches, the only control mechanism is the knob, and it is clear that turning the knob would adjust the time.
Apple’s touchpad is definitely the best example of excellent control mapping. Zooming in and out by pinching, switching desktops by swiping, rotated photos by doing the same motion with two fingers etc. are just so natural to us that on-screen controls or instructions are not even needed.
David Powell 22:51, 18 September 2011 (PDT)
- Affordances are, without a doubt, cultural. The reason this is true, is due to the inherently subjective nature of assigning "quality" to an object. An excellent satirical observation of this phenomena can be seen in the 1981 movie, "The Gods Must Be Crazy". In this movie a pilot from a western civilization discards of an empty glass Coke bottle while flying over the Kalahari desert. A tribesmen discovers the bottle and returns it to his people. The tribe finds that the bottle helps with many tasks; such as crushing wheat or rolling dough. However, the community soon begins to fight over the bottle. It is not long before the tribe elder decides to return the bottle back to the gods from which it came. This film highlights the disparities of affordances given to the empty Coke bottle based on cultural relevance. Furthermore, an object is developed to satisfy a need/want, which is also cultural. Meaning that the object is designed with affordances in mind based on the culture for which it will be used. The subjective nature of affordances also extends to those with disabilities. For instance, subtitles may be a helpful tool if you missed something being said in film; however, it is an imperative for the deaf. Affordances are and will always be relative. It is impossible to create an objective "object" for the reason that we do not live in an objective reality.
- Small devices have a serious disadvantage when it comes to visibility. For instance, watches have seen a recent revolution. On thinkgeek.com it is possible to order an 8GB video watch. However, the usability would seem...let's say limited (given the small screen size). One work around would be to scale down the functionality of the device. Meaning, removing features and creating a less cluttered user interface. Another possible solution would be to create a more intuitive interface with decision trees that present relative information, leaving out unwanted information.
- An example of a well-executed and novel control mapping would be the controls seen in the new models of BMW vehicles. Everything in the car can be controlled via a circle on the center console. The developers call it the "iDrive". Another successful control mapping would be the W,A,S,D controls seen on all PC based first person shooters. My final example is the iPod interface. This designed revolutionized the MP3 market with its sleek look and easy to use interface.
Jonathan Tien 23:50, 18 September 2011 (PDT)
- Do you think affordances are cultural? Are they different for people with disabilities?
Affordances are definitely cultural. For example, most chinese bowls, which are primarily used for eating rice and sometimes for drinking soup, have a ridge along the bottom edge that allows the diner to pick up the bowl without burning his/her hands. I rarely see this feature on western style bowls, because the cultural ettiqutte is different (in chinese culture, it is very commong to lift your bowl to your mouth to finish your rice/soup/whatever, but in western ettiquette, your bowl should typically not leave the table).
And of course, they are vastly differently for people with disabilities. Bathrooms have handrails and larger stalls for wheelchair-bound people, as well as shorter water fountains. We recently built a large concrete ramp near Evans and Sutardja Dai to accomodate wheelchairs. Signs and buttons in public places often have braille on them to accomodate the blind.
- Visibility is a problem for small devices, like say, watches. Can you think of some workarounds?
One simple workaround is to simply have fewer features. This may be an "Apple"-y kind of design philosophy, but when there are too many features, it makes the interface and interaction unnecessarily complex for the sake of some featuers that the vast majority will never use.
Another way is by feel, not by visibility. My watch can only get adjusted in 3 regards: the time on the face (by the minute hand), the day (Mon, Tues, etc), and the date (1, 2, 3...). The adjustment is done by spinning one pin, which can be pulled out to 3 different lengths. Although the visibility does not allow me to easily tell which mode i'm in, a small click that i can feel at each notch makes it easy to determine which setting i'm about to adjust.
- Give some examples of well-executed and novel mappings in controls that you have seen.
I feel like the piano has a good mapping. As soon as you begin to play keys in order, you know exactly how each key is mapped and what to expect. This is not by a visual cue, but an aural one. For someone like me, who plays by ear, i find the mapping of piano keys very reliable and predictable, and it makes it easy for me to figure out melodies even just by approximating a tonal distance to a physical distance between keys.
I also like the macbook keyboard's mapping, for the function keys at the top (brightness, volume, expose), which is feel is a lot more straightforward and works better than on a lot of other laptops which force you to use a 'Fn' key in conjunction.
Konstantin Rud 23:54, 18 September 2011 (PDT)
I think that affordances can be cultural, however it seems to me that many affordances of objects are universal. The examples that Norman gives in the readings such as a door knob turning and glass breaking have fairly universal affordances as most people know how to use these objects and even if the objects seem completely knew the user could figure out their use quickly. For complex objects this seems to be untrue, yet, Norman seems to define affordances in such a way that implies the affordance can be inferred from observing the object. A cultural affordance that I have seen was a small egg holder used to crack your egg with one hand, this is a very simple and intuitive divice, yet someone outside of the particular culture of use would have no idea what it is for, especially since it looks like a candle holder. I think that affordances are different for people with disabilities as they might not know how or even be able to use a certain object.
Typically the best way to make something small more visible would be to make it larger, obviously. In the case of the watch making the numbers larger, adding a digital display, and adding glow in the dark or light in the dark features are all ways of improving visibility problems. Another idea would involve a chime or some kind of sound for certain times. Of course the favorite idea is to add the watch capability to people's cell phones.
A very well-executed, intuitive, and simple design is the modern computer mouse. People often overlook the mouse, but it has had many makeovers and is probably the easiest thing to use I know of.
Victor Tjhia 00:58, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
By definition, affordances are how you perform on a particular utility by observing it. I think affordances are cultural because different culture may have different ways in viewing a particular object. For example, usually you spin a door knob clockwise to unlock it and press a button in the middle of the knob to lock it again. People with disabilities may have different affordances. For example, disabled people with missing limbs may not be able to open a door knob easily; and they may need different ways to open/close and lock/unlock a door.
For watches, the color of the hands should be contrast with the background (black background, white hands) to increase the visibility. Having a digital watch is also a solution and a matter of individual preference. Some watches are also designed to be able to 'speak' the time. []
Some of the well executed and novel mappings are touchscreen smartphone (such as Blackberry Torch, iPhone, and some Android models) and tablet devices (iPad, Motorola Xoom). They have made those devices more user friendly while increasing the features and usability.
Josef John 01:22, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
Some affordances are definitely cultural. Although as the world gets more connected, most people begin to understand other cultures and affordances they might not have understood before. Yes, people with disabilities may not be able to perform certain functions. As an example, someone without limbs may find most items in our world to be quite badly designed.
The best way to deal with low visibility would be to standardize the buttons on how to operate the system. If all watches had the same controls, which a lot of them do, the user will know how to use it. However, this does not help the person who is trying to do it the first time. For them, clear and simple instructions on the back of the watch, may be a good idea.
Good mappings I have experienced:
- The buttons to call an elevator are labelled with an arrow going up or down, and if you cannot go down, there will only be a button labelled with the up arrow.
- The shower/bathtub controls. The red is hot, blue is cold and you pull the button up to get the water up to the shower and push it down to send the water back down to the faucet for the tub.
Evan Kawahara 02:03, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
I think that affordances are definitely cultural. Affordances are based on observations of individuals, and the individual perception of the object. Therefore, in different cultures there may be different needs or concerns that cause an individual to view the object differently. The idea here is that affordances are extremely subjective; there are many examples of objects being perceived to have different uses. For example, chopsticks are used as the primary implement in eating in Asian culture, but in some Western cultures, chopsticks are used for beautification as hair pieces to hold buns in place. Disabilities also play a role in affordances and creates different meaning because certain disabilities prevent objects from being used in the intended way, and therefore the objects take on different meaning to the disabled.
Visibility on small items like watches can clearly be a problem. The obvious solution to this would be to make displays larger and with greater resolution to increase legibility, but this is clearly limited by the portable intent of the device. Therefore, some other workarounds include implementing a projection method to project the display onto a larger surface where it would be more legible. The main point of visibility, however, is to indicate to the user the clear way in which parts of the device are to be used. Watches typically lack any clear way of doing this besides the instruction manual (which very few people read). Therefore, some form of labeling with either pictures or audio to save space would be preferable. The user would have a better idea of the function, but the display would not be overcrowded or illegible.
Some well-executed mappings in control that I have seen are the old designs on electric stoves, in which the layout of the (usually) 4 burners correspond to the same layout of knobs. So the knob at the top left corresponds to the top left burner. Here each heat control has only one associated control, and the use is very intuitive, with the heat increasing as the dial is turned further and further right.
Vincent Chiu 03:00, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
Affordances are definitely cultural. I have personally seen many things in multiple cultures which people of other cultures cannot understand or make sense of until they are told what the object's function is. There are even some television programs which take advantage of this for a comedic purpose. In addition, I'm sure many people in this class have tried to teach someone who is their elder, such as their grandparents, how to use new technologies and been frustrated because they just don't understand it, while we grew up with the technology and find it easy to use, but hard to explain. People with disabilities are similar, as if they have not been taught what a certain object is used for, they could completely mistake it, since they do not experience the world in the same way that a person without disabilities does.
Visibility on a watch could be solved by using large digital screens, or using a projector instead of a screen. Another method of solving the problem could be to use another sense such as touch or hearing instead of sight.
Some well-designed mappings in controls are intuitive interfaces such as on the iOS and Android, or even Windows Phone or Microsoft Surface, where a multitouch enabled touchscreen is primarily used instead of a standard mouse/keyboard or even controller input. Some novel mappings have been attempted that have not worked out so well, such as the nintendo power glove or the use of brain wave detection to control devices. With mobile devices, many of them have multiple functions that can be accessed through a basic interface, and the same buttons can be reused to do different things, but they are clear about the instructions.
Michael Chen 03:02, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
- Affordances are definitely cultural. As we are born, we come into the world knowing little more than the basic reflexes for survival, such as the grasping motion when something is held between the web of our thumb and index finger. Everything else we learn is from practice and references to everything around us. People will learn things differently depending on where they are, though similarities will bleed between multiple cultures. A person with disabilities tends to have more knowledge than those who are not. In my opinion, they have to learn how things are done if they werent disabled and the way to do it if they were. Most controls for the disabled are merely adaptations to device, optional knowledge for those who can handle it normally.
- Visibility can be defied through manipulation and projection. A projector is typically smaller than a TV, but it can emit a bigger image than any of your standard TV's. This goes for movie theaters too.
- I've recently seen a video for 8Pen, a new way of text inputting. This format clearly dominates that of T9, Swype, virtual qwerty keyboards, and more with its adaptation to smaller screens and different controls. I takes advantage of the fact that there is little room to begin with and uses its space resourcefully. I also enjoy the touchpad mappings on Apple products, specifically their notebooks.
Praneet Wadge 03:37, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
a/Affordances have to be culture based. Humans are products of their environments; the style and rituals that one has been raised in define and bias our opinions everyday to act in a particular way with the surrounding objects. For example, the concept of use of silverware varies to a large degree: in the western world, general ettiquette points to using the fork with the left hand while the right hand is used to cut with a knife. On the other hand, many people from the middle east to south asia eat with their bare hands, tearing bread with their fingers etc, thereby having no use for knives and forks. b/Visibility can be improved by stripping unaway unessential components of a product. For example, a watch can be made to purely project large numbers rather than having minute, hour and second hands. Visibility for small devices can also be improved by adding a contrasting color scheme. In the watch scenario, the hands can be painted bright red around a plan white backgroun; even though particular numbers may be difficult to read, simplying seeing the general shape of the hands by a quick glane can help you tell time more efficiently. c/My space heater has well laid out control mappings: red and blue colors indicate temperature, while large and small circles indicate fan speed. The knobs are also mere circular disks with pointing handles. One simply turns the knobs in a smooth manner for a precise increase in temperature/speed.
Ieong Chon Lo 08:52, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
Affordances are definitely cultural. In different environment and culture background, people can view the same object in a totally different way. For example, Chinese uses some kinds of herb as medicine for many thousand of years. However, those herbs may be just a plant in most of the western countries. I rarely see western people drink the Chinese herb tea when they are sick. This is how cultural change the object’s affordance. For people with disabilities, I think affordances can be different with the types of disability people have. And this can change the way to use and view the object. For example, deaf people cannot use CD for music playing, however; they can use it for data storage.
For watches, I think it is too small for putting fancy function on it. To me, the usage of watch is to display time. Therefore, visibility will not be a problem if only time is display on the watch. However, there are a lot of digital watch that can display the time in a big size. It may help people easy to read and with some extra functions by some small buttons.
I think the Macbook touchpad is the most well-executed and novel mapping controls that I have use. This is also the reason for me to get my first Macbook in 2009, when the features of multi-touch come with the Macbook in 2009. The users can control easily by using at most 4 fingers to do all the on-screen instruction.
Yongjin Jin 09:43, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
I believe that affordances are indeed cultural. To take a very simple example, driving a car, the seats are placed on different sides of the car between Japanese and American cars. It takes a person quite a bit to get used to this different side when one person goes to the other country. Similarly, I believe that affordances are also different for people with disabilities. For example, there are certain special features added into devices, like cars again for example, to aid them in using the said device.
The main problem with small devices is that there isn't really that much space to actually implement more controls than a few buttons. Yet some devices try to accomplish an extremely large amount of tasks with few buttons as possible. Therefore, it is actually very hard to make the possible functions on smaller devices more visible. This is because there is a tradeoff between size and visibility and thus making the device smaller means reducing visibility. I think one possible workaround is to use the proxy of a well used bigger device to implement certain functionality. For example, many people have cellphones nowadays and thus perhaps giving a way to link the small device, like watches, to the cellphone in order to tap their functions might possibly increment the visibility by a wide margin.
One of the simplest and extremely well-executed mapping, I believe, is the keyboard and mouse set. The mouse's physical movement corresponds to the movement of the cursor. This gives an extremely clear of the conceptual model of the mouse and gives a clear correlation between the two. Similarly, the keyboard has many, many buttons, allowing the mapping to be nearly as much as the functions if the scope is limited to typing. Even for some extra functions like copying and pasting, the mappings at least make sense, such as copy being ctrl+c as they share the letter c.
Jay Chen 10:31, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
Affordance is how a thing is the perceived and actual properties of a thing that gives a person an idea how the thing might be used. While the actual properties of a thing cannot be changed, the perception of those properties can be. Culture is one thing that can change perception of a property, hence affordance is cultural. When we look at a thing such as a long thin stick, some cultures would associate it with a large toothpick, while another might see those properties as belonging to a chopstick. I also believe that it is different for disabled persons. If one is in a wheelchair, they cannot use things the way a normal person would. Hence, when they see certain properties, like for stairs, instead of thinking "walk up here", they think of it as "avoid this path".
I think some workarounds is to have different frames for different tasks. For instance, on a watch, digital watches have buttons that change it to stopwatch or timer etc. So not everything has to fit in the same screen. Same thing for mobile apps. Instead of having the menu on the screen at all time, the visibility of everything will be improved if there was just one button to pull up the menu. Another workaround would be to simplify information. Instead of having a watch tell the time, date, weather and play music. A watch will only display the time and date. This allows the watch to perform its duty without other distractions.
Some good mapping of controls that I've seen include the gradient lighting switch and the spells for League of Legends. For the gradient light switch, you want more light, you push it up, and less light, you push it down. It's analogous to the actual light switch of flick up and down so people have the concepts in their minds already. Usually, the first time somebody sees it, they can use it easily. For the spells in league of legends, they use QWER as the commands. This makes it easy for people to rest their hands on the keyboard. Since the pictures of spells on screen in in order of QWER with a mini qwer, it's easy to associate the spell with the correct letter.
Jian Chen 10:32, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
I think affordance is a definitely a cultural thing. Sometimes it might be different for people with disabilities, but sometimes (with good user interface design) it shouldn't be the same. For example, the book mentions door as an example. In some countries where technology is still in the developing mode, people use doors that made out of wood, and the mechanism of locking the door sometimes can be very different. So if someone from America travels to such as place, he probably has no idea how to lock a door. The same thing could happen in the reverse direciton too. So affordance also ties with famility of objects.
A workaround for the low visibility problem is to make the small device stand out. People will pay more attention to the device if it looks strange, interesting, or weird. There's not much to say about watches since we all know what watches are used for (unless someone who doesn't have the perception of time sees the watch). But in general, we can put some small instructions (such as arrows, shapes, and attractive colors) on the device. Culture would play an important role when we design these kinds of hint on the device, we need to consider what people are familiar with.
A well-executed, intuitive and novel in control I have seen is the Apple Magic Mouse. The entire surface of the magic mouse is like the trackpad, it tracks the direction of my swipping. It's very convenient to use.
Kate Feeney 10:41, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
I don't think affordances are necessarily cultural. I think culture can play a role in how familiar one is with a thing or influence their background knowledge regarding what how or what the thing has been used for in the past. But I think when it comes to true affordance people across cultures are very simular. If properly designed it is likely that a person that has never seen a object before can still approach it and us it. I think this is because human instinct is very simular from person to person.
Affordances my be different for people with disabilities. If so it is probably do to the fact that they might not perceve things as the majority of people do. Either physical or mental disabilities can change how the characteristics of an object reach the brain or how the brain interprets them. People with disabilities are a very large and covers people who are very different from each other. So I think specific disabilities would have to be looked at to determine their influence on affordances.
A good work around for small devices is to make the design very simple so that there is room to make every individual element bigger and easier to use. Also use bright colors so individual parts stand out better.
Liu Chao 10:47, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
Affordence is cultural. People with different culture will give totally different reaction to the same object. Give a example, a playstation3. If you give a PS3 to a normal person, of course it's tool used to play, and indeed, it's used to play games. However, to some scientists, this PS3 is a super computer which is used to do calculation. And they do use 30 PS3 to construct a supercomputer. This story tell us, people have to totally different opinions if their education level or. Past experence are different. Not only cultural but also experience.
For small devices, a problem is even the calculation power is already sting enough, for the limitation of the screen or the size of the device, the app run in small device are simple and not fully functional. it's really hard for people to type as fast as they do on PC, and watch films on phone, though we can do this, but it only happened there is no options. If there is a TV and a phone, we switch to TV for sure.
A good work in control to me, is the iPad, which I am writing this post in iPad, it's small and easy to use, this do is a good design.
Aaron Eidelson 11:06, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
I think affordances are cultural. In early human history, relative isolation meant that completely different views on the world could develop. With these different views, any given object is assigned a different value depending on who you ask. For instance, robes have a symbolic meaning in Japanese culture, but if most westerners were to see a robe they would most likely just think of it as something comfortable to wear.
The same applies to peoples of other groups. For instance, an item which a disabled person with impaired motor skills may cherish (i.e. the automatic door opener next to most doors), someone deaf may give little thought to.
A work-around for small devices, such as a watch, is to use a scrollable user interface and to give the user the illusion that the device is a window onto a larger plane of UI elements (this is the method employed in windows phone). Another work-around is to use collapsable UI elements (this is popular on both iOS and Android). These are both ways to fit the same size content onto a smaller screen size. A screen reader would also be helpful to many users still having trouble with the size.
The new OS X Lion trackpad gestures is a well-executed mapping of controls because it aims to mimic what we have grown up doing: dragging things. By tapping into our already-existing muscle memory, it makes for a much more effective product. I find myself scrolling in the wrong direction when using a typical mouse wheel because I am now so accustomed to this type of interaction.
Sakura Reyes 11:11, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
I feel affordances are affected by quite a number of factors, culture and disability among them. Strictly, culture is something that is more a determiner of ‘norms’, but since everyone grows up in some culture, their perception of how various controls and devices will be used must be affected in some way in youth. Disability is more directly a determiner – a blind person can determine their affordances by touch and sound only, whereas the sighted can take advantage of visual clues.
As regards small devices, depending on the device several workarounds are possible. For something like a wristwatch, to be handled closely by the user, a physical cue might be useful – differentiating the controls by size or texture, for example. Other alternatives include sound cues, especially if the device is to be used by a group or by an individual with headphones, and intuitive mapping – making the feedback of the device match naturally to the functions that the device performs.
Perhaps some of the more novel and intuitive controls I have seen recently are those of newer multi-touch interfaces – common functions like zooming in and out, dragging, and selection of options are all performed with motions physically suggestive of the task, and furthermore, unlike earlier and more primitive touch-screens, nearly any object can serve as a stylus, including various parts of the human hand. This prevents the user from needing to figure out ‘what to use’ to interact with the screen. Some games in the music/rhythm genre also make use of similar body-mapping, with controls associated with limbs or certain movements that make performing the action for that control or instrument simple to understand.
Matthew Leung 11:13, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
I think affordances are cultural. One of the challenges to traveling to other countries is understanding how even the simple and everyday things work differently. One example is the large variety of toilets that I have encountered: from complex many button ones, to automatic ones, to the simple single-action ones. But the latter is actually the hardest, some toilets need things to be pulled, pushed in, flipped, or even things to be stepped on to function.
Visibility is a problem, but feedback can be given through touch and sound, too. Small devices can utilize vibrating and rumbling features, or sound chips that can produce different beeps to better inform that a user is doing something right (or wrong).
A good mapping example would be (most) elevator controls. They are simple for the general user - clear labels, large, easy to find buttons, lights provide feedback to show buttons work. Another good example would be my analog alarm clock. It is simple, with 2 wheels, one to change alarm and one to change time. There is a button for the light, and a large switch that is pushed up or down to turn the alarm on/off. The only non-intuitive feature is the snooze one, but the light switch covers that with a visible label. Adding another button just for that might be cost inefficient, so I think this is an appropriate design choice.
Calvin Hu 11:22, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
It seems that a proper UI device should transcend culture and be so obvious to use, any person of any background would be able to figure it out. Obviously though, this nirvana of UI design doesn't really exist: not every culture is aware of potential possibilities, thus not knowing what can be "easily discovered". Because affordance is such a relational quality, dependent on the user's expectations / familiarities, it must depend on culture.
However, affordance is not just which actions are physically possible, but also how easy is it to discover possible actions; a person who lost their legs would still know what to do with a shoe, for example, despite not being able to use it. This doesn't mean that physical or mental disabilities do not come into determining affordance, though.
A workaround for low visibility devices is first of all to realize the limitations. This device should have a UI that is streamlined for the reduced screen - physically though, there needs to be ample space to ensure no misclicking of buttons, or misreading of information. If you want to put more features, strongly reconsider - sometimes, less is more.
A simple stopwatch with the start/stop button and the reset button does it's job perfectly, way better than any smartphone equivalent. The positioning of the buttons along the top allow for easy access, as the grabbing motion of the fingers is way more natural than the tapping of a button.
Tai Schuller 11:33, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
I think that most affordances are pretty well understood by people no matter their cultural background. Examples like the door handles are affordances that everyone can understand. However, that doesn't mean that there isn't a cultural factor in some objects. Plastic bags for instance, are normally thought of only to carry food or groceries, but in some countries like Thailand they are filled with liquid in place of a plastic bottle. For people with disabilities, affordances can be vastly different. These people may be in wheel chairs and have a limited range of movement, making simple actions like opening doors difficult.
The problem with visibility on a small device is that a lot of information needs to be relayed on a small screen. Watches have few external buttons for manipulation, but there are many different tasks required of a watch. A way to fix this is to limit the number of functions for a watch. Another way could be to implement a kind of menu system. This will be difficult for a small screen, but will result in a more intuitive way to access watch functions.
The Kinect is a pretty novel device. Controlling screen elements with hand gestures hasn't been done very often. Right now there isn't much in terms of wide spread use for interacting with your computer using the Kinect, but I can envision a future with Minority Report like interfaces that uses hand gesuters to navigate through a software environment.
Gong Cheng 11:49, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
I think while lots of affordances are similar throughout the world (such as the keys are used as the object one opens the lock/door with universally), there are many affordances that are unique to one specific culture. For example, the kindergarteners in China may view handkerchiefs as the object to clean their face/mouth with by carrying them in their pocket, while some fashion designers may consider handkerchiefs as simply a decoration for the couture they design. In addition, I would say that affordances are different for people who have disabilities according to different types of disability, since not being able to perform certain task will restrict one’s accessibility to a facility.
A workaround for visibility on small devices is to make the options clear and easy to find on the device, such as instead of having the users looking for the tiny buttons on the screen or platform, one can make the buttons big/obvious to make the task easy. A counterexample is the blackberry phone. Lots of people do not like blackberry phones because of the petit keyboard that it comes with.
I think the touch screen in general is a very good mapping for lots of portable devices. Having a touch screen frees people’s limit in the past of only being able to hit a certain key to perform a task. It becomes more interactive, straightforward and fun. It requires less thinking because it is very graphical.
Katelyn Sills 12:12, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
Affordances are definitely culture-specific. To give a simple example, a cushion in the US is largely used for decoration on couches or for back support. However, in another country, a cushion might fundamentally be for sitting on, on the floor. There may be some affordances that are cross-cultural. Affordances are also different for people with disabilities. For example, while stairs usually afford a way to get to a different floor in a building, they are an obstacle for a person with disabilities. Likewise, for many people, a zig-zag ramp may not seem to afford quick movement, but for a person with disabilities, it may be their only way into a building.
One workaround to solve the problem of low visibility in small devices is to have a button that switches between modes, so only one piece of information is on the screen at any one time. Unfortunately, having different modes can be confusing, as sometimes the user may not know which mode they are in or how to act in that mode. Another workaround is to have a scrolling display that displays all the information in time across the small screen. However, this also has a problem. If the user wants a specific bit of information, they have to wait for the other information to scroll past before they see it on the screen.
One example of a well-executed mapping in controls is the I-pod scrolling circle. It is novel because usually for such actions, we would use a mouse, but that is not possible on a mobile device. I think it’s well-executed because it can scroll rapidly or more slowly depending on how fast your finger goes around the circle. Another example is faucets in which the hot and cold controls are merged into one control, which can be turned to mostly hot, a mixture of hot and cold, or mostly cold. It reduces the amount of actions that it takes to get to the correct temperature. Also, unlike the faucets with separate cold and hot controls, you don’t have to memorize the “recipe” for getting the right mixture of hot and cold.
Krsna Widmer 12:15, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
The UI design depends on the application in my opinion. To think that affordances can be universalized is a dream. If the application is let's say geared towards architects then why should it be easy for someone like myself to use? As far as people with disabilities are concerned I believe that it is the developers duty to make options for disabled people just as much as it is they are expected to make a working app. Small devices are well small. I believe that there is only so much you could do with certain devices. It would be awesome to have a home theatre, a car, a music player, bathroom, etc. all in your watch, but I don't think that it will ever be possible. I don't think workarounds are what is needed for but rather a different expectation of devices is called for. Old school gaming controls were well-executed. Modern controls I find are to complex and take time to learn where as one could hand a NES controller to one's grandma and she would catch on real fast. Touch screens have definitely came a long way and are very natural but I think that using a touch screen for everything is very limiting and annoying (ex: virtual keyboards).
Victor Krimshteyn 12:37, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
Norman says that affordances refers to the "perceived and actual properties of the thing," in relation to how the thing can be used. Since affordances are a combination of what one perceives and what a thing actually allows, affordances must be partially cultural and partially universal. The "perceived" part is usually at least partially cultural, while the "actual" part is universal. For example, that wood allows for carving and glass does not is something that is inherent to the material and must be universal. Affordances are different for people with disabilities because what they can do with objects is sometimes limited by their disabilities. For example, stairs afford non-disabled people the task of going up, but they do not afford this to disabled people. Workarounds to improve visibility on small devices: remove extra features. Add different colored lights to the buttons to signal different features. Have a button per feature, at the cost of having more buttons. A novel but very well-executed mapping is the iPod control wheel. The scroll wheel is something that is surprisingly intuitive to use. Although it seems like a circular wheel has little to do with vertical up/down scrolling, it is actually very intuitive to scroll counter-clockwise for up, and clockwise for down. The center button is intuitive as 'enter,' and the 'menu' button becomes intuitive for "back" very quickly.
Scott Goodfriend 12:42, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
Affordances are learned perceptions and, therefore, are dependent on the cultural education the person has received. Affordances become instinctual by repetition or are built from other experiences the user feel are familiar. People will repeat and are taught through the lens of their experiences, and the majority of experiences are dependent on lifestyle and cultural immersion. It is natural for a European to drive on the left-side of the road or for a Korean to use chopsticks. However, many Americans have funny stories of accidentally driving on the wrong-side of the road on vacation, and few can figure out how to properly use chopsticks. Similarly, the American `EXIT` sign is natural to Americans because they can read the word "Exit" in big block letters; however, how can we expect a person who does not understand English to understand the purpose of a sign near a door?
People with disabilities are also trained to understand and look for specific cues. A blind person learns to search for Braille instructions and keys on a keypad, to pay attention to audible tones from the crosswalk signals, to listen to oral instructions. To most people, all of these are of secondary value, the Braille is an interesting texturing we don't understand, the sounds from the crosswalk signals are useful if we're not paying attention or annoying, and oral instructions are not as useful as visual instructions with pictures. A deaf person must instinctually understand kinetic signals and sign language, while most people do not pay as much attention in how people move to understand meaning.
Smaller devices are a common direction as technology can make devices and parts smaller. This convenience adds the design challenge of dealing with small parts. One of Norman's solutions was to redevelop audio interfaces. Oral instructions can replace small text and unintuitive interfaces. For example, I have an alarm clock that allows the time and alarm to be set through a voice recognition interface. This is especially useful because the physical switches were designed very much as a secondary priority. Also, cell phones have found another solution by adding touch screens that take up the entire surface of the device. Rather than using the 1.8"-screen common in traditional phones that must sacrifice some real estate to a physical keypad, smartphones can be up to 4" and large screens. A larger screen allows for larger text. Also, phones and watches give audible tones, such as beeps, when actions are performed. This allows the user get feedback that something is happening. Different tones will give even more information to a user. Flashing, vibrations, and other tactile responses give the user feedback without having to rely on excellent eyesight or ideal reading conditions.
Well-executed and novel mappings. One example of an interesting mapping is the Momentus training gold club. This club allows the user to make swings with the club. If the user swings incorrectly, the club will "break": bend at a hinge, which the user can feel while swinging. However, this device does not "break" on all problems, so it can be deceiving and makes the user not feel too comfortable even if everything works fine. Also, even though it is easy to tell something is wrong, understanding what is wrong is difficult by just seeing how it breaks. It is hard to get a natural understanding. Therefore, the next useful check is that the club can be used to swing with a ball.
Another example of a well-executed design is the vibrate switch on the iPhone. Since it is near the volume switch, it seems a natural way to mute the phone. Also, when the vibrate is activated, the phone gives a vibrate feedback to inform the user.
Darin Fontes 12:44, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
I do think affordances are affected by culture. People from different cultures have different ideas, and will apply those different ideas to different objects. As a silly example, a culture which uses chopsticks as an eating implement might see a fork as a backscratcher. This is because when they think of an eating utensil, they think of chopsticks, so when they see a fork, they will think of it as serving some other purpose. This obviously breaks down when a person is familiar with both cultures, and can recognize that both a fork and chopsticks are eating utensils. The effect is similar for people with disabilities. A blind person will not use certain things as they are intended, such as a book or a clock, and may use them in different ways, like a paperweight. However, the difference between culture and disability is that the former is caused by a lack of exposure to certain items, and the latter is caused by the person knowing that they cannot use the item a certain way, and must find other uses for it.
Some workarounds to improve visibility on small devices could include voice activation, text-to-speech, and holographic projection.
I'm going to have to agree with most people here and say that the iPhone/iPod Touch have a very effective user interface. The touch screen provides a very nice analogue to real buttons by showing a button as if it were actually pressed. Gestures are intuitive, such as swiping left and right to flip pages of an ebook.
== Hussein Omo Kadiri 13:45, 19 September 2011 (PDT) ==
I think affordances are cultural because different cultures have different ideas about things. Ideas usually vary from culture to culture and sometimes there is conflict about who has the right idea or not.
A workaround for small devices could perform similar functions to what the magnifier on a Windows Operating System does. It would have a dedicated small portion of the screen that would be dedicated to magnified content controlled by the user's touch event. It would be particularly helpful for people who have visibility problem.
== Peter Tsoi 12:45, 19 September 2011 (PDT) ==
Affordances are cultural, mostly because objects, colors, languages and many other attributes are viewed differently across cultures. An English map of NY is unlikely very helpful to a foreign chinese tourist who has never been to New York before. Disabilities can characterize another group of people, we can treat those people as part of another culture and they have their own affordances. In the case of low-visibility situations, some workarounds have included braille, or spoken-output from the device. For a watch, this may be implemented as a button that speaks the time, or a raised braille output similar to the nerdy binary watches that exist today.
Examples of well-mapped controls are the maps app on Android and iOS as well as the general navigation of these touch screen devices. Using a figure to directly manipulate on-screen elements is very intuitive.
Minkai Ong 12:51, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
Yes, affordances are cultural to some degree. For example, when designing a plate for displaying a room number, it is ok to make it flat if there aren’t any blind people. But if there are then it would be better to make the numbers protrude so that they can touch and feel it.
For watches, we can only have one screen display one functionality at one time, and buttons on the left and right to navigate through the functionalities. Some functions like different time zones and calculator are not practically useful for such a device and should be omitted. For smartphones for example, we can have it display icons and only display the description of the icons when users ask for it. Users can quickly get used to the icon and so the entire screen can be devoted to icons without any descriptions.
The Google Map has a good mapping. The hand icon that your mouse turns into indicates that you can click and drag through the map. The magnifying glass indicates that you can zoom in and out. It is all very intuitive.
LilithSchneider 14:05, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
While many affordances are purely intuitive, like how to wear a t-shirt (your head goes through the center hole, and your arms through the other two), there are also a great number that are partially or purely cultural. The vertical vs horizontal door handles discussed in POET are an example of partially cultural affordances. There is some intuition involved, in that it makes physical sense to push on the larger handle and that a vertical bar is easier to pull, but there are many other ways to implement a door that would work just as well. That particular affordance just happens to already be installed in our culture. There are other affordances that are arguably cultural. For example, the symbol that we all know indicates a power switch. If some one is handed an electronic device and asked to turn it on, they will automatically search for a button with that symbol on it. Abstractly, a circle interrupted by a short line has little to do with the concept of 'on' and 'off' and a person who has somehow never come across it would probably assume it to be a letter from a language they don't know.
Improving visibility of small displays can be a huge issue. There are many ways to improve just the visibility, but they may not always agree with the purpose or aesthetics of the initial design. With the watch example we can always make the watch face larger, though this may detract from the design for other reasons. There are other options. A watch can have either a digital or analog display. We can increase the contrast between the hands and the face of the watch, or change the number of hands. If we assume that people know watch faces well enough, we can remove the numbers from an analog display to increase visibility of the hands. Digital watches can be illuminated and made of nicer displays to increase readability.
One novel mapping I've been particularly impressed with is the track pad on MacBook laptops. I've often tried to use a friend's HP or Dell machine, and had trouble doing simple things like clicking a precise location or scrolling a window. The responsiveness and intuitive multi-touch functionality of the simple looking MacBook track pads makes my life just that much easier.
Harvey Chang 13:19, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
Affordances are certainly affected by culture to some degree. The customs of one culture may perceive uses for an object differently than those of another. For example, a thin cushion in US culture may be seen as a pillow for resting our heads while in another culture that same cushion may be seen as a mat to be sat on. However, I do not believe culture is the main factor when it comes to affordances. The concept of a hinged door is pretty much universal and easily deduced. For people with disabilities, affordances are seen to suit their specific needs. They might not be able to see signs or read, therefore they much learn to use other cues in order to use everyday objects. What we see as a set of bumps on a sign will be perceived as an integral part of knowing what the sign says if a person is blind.
Some workarounds to limited visibility on small devices may be to use audio cues, or to make use of touch screens to minimize the amount of searching the user has to do in order to use a specific function. The screen could show the current function while buttons near the edge of the screen could show next and previous function.
Touch screens today have a pretty good user interface, especially ones that give tactile feedback. Most smart phones make good use of touch screens with intuitive controls, some better than others. The idea of pinching the screen to make the image shrink is pretty novel and it makes sense.
Frank 13:30, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
Affordances have to do with prototype effects, to use a cognitive science term. Repeated associations between metaphors create neural pathways that cause larger amounts of neurons to fire when the idea/metaphor/prototype is encountered by the brain. The fact that more neurons fire is important because it brings more useful parts of your brain to bear for figuring out what to do quickly. There's a reason why practice makes perfect. That said, affordances are generally environmental, not always necessarily cultural because the definition of cultural is ambiguous in this context. People do things that they are used to and when they are forced to do things that they are not used to, they have to recreate the neural pathways that make doing that thing again easier. While some affordances might be instinctive, like suckling for babies, the vast majority of affordances have to do with the person's experiences. However, because demographics are do useful in abstracting away the minor differences in people's experiences, the use of stereotype to estimate affordances is wide spread. Affordances are definitely different in some cases for people with disabilities because they have had different experiences and hence, different pathways.
It seems like putting a curved glass or plastic in front of watches so you have a minor magnification factor might make the text look larger naturally.
Modern touch interfaces have become more and more intuitive with the rise of the modern tablet and smartphone. Consider the old windows tablets, which used touch as a substitute for the mouse. Those were not very intuitive. Also, if you think about it, rocking chairs are really easy to use. The use is directly correlated to natural human motions when sitting.
Catherine Callaghan 13:36, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
1. Do you think affordances are cultural? Are they different for people with disabilities?
Affordances can be both absolute and cultural. Some affordances have to do with universal properties of materials, such as the fact that water is wet and metal is hard to shatter. Other affordances will be determined by the context that objects or materials are used in, which can vary from culture to culture. An easy and common example of this is found in foods. In some Asian food cultures, dogs can be eaten and beans are used in desserts, whereas in some European food cultures dogs may not be eaten and beans are used for savory dishes. Affordances can also be different for people with disabilities. Structures such as stairs and ladders afford vertical movement to people who can walk, but for those who use wheelchairs or cannot walk these structures have no affordances of mobility.
2. Visibility is a problem for small devices, like say, watches. Can you think of some workarounds?
If the user needs to be able to see small things on a small screen, one option to help increase visibility is to zoom in on portions of the screen. When the user moves their cursor/finger over an area of the screen, that area becomes enlarged. This will be useful for screens that are small but not too small. For really small screens like those on watches, this might not be as helpful. When the display is super tiny, it might be time to start thinking about relaying information in ways that don't use the display, such as using audio cues like beeps or voice commands/responses or tactile cues like vibration.
3. Give some examples of well-executed and novel mappings in controls that you have seen.
I recently encountered a mapping that was novel to me when a friend demonstrated to me his laptop's scrolling function which was inverted from what I am used to. To scroll down a page, he swiped his finger upwards on the trackpad. To scroll up, he swiped downwards. To scroll left, he swiped to the right, and to scroll right he swiped to the left. For anyone out there who uses this mapping for their laptop trackpad, this won't sound at all interesting. For me, however, it was extremely strange and weird to watch, and even weirder to try it myself. I am so used to my laptop's scrolling setup that I've come to think of it as the only, the natural way it should be. Encountering a complete reversal of what I took for granted was surprising and thought-provoking. As I thought about it, I realized the difference in mappings comes from different conceptual models of what the user is doing when he or she scrolls. The mapping I'm used to - swipe up to go up, left to go left, etc., is based on the assumption that the material on the screen is stationary and the user is mobile. In that case, when the user wants to see what's above, they move up. It's like trying to read a giant whiteboard. You can't move the board because it's nailed to the wall, so you get down on your knees to read what's near the floor, get a stepladder to see what's at the top, and walk from side to side to read the left and right edges of the board. In the same way, on a laptop, you move your finger up to go up, left to go left, and so on. My friend's scrolling function with the reverse mapping was based on a model of a stationary user and a moveable reading material. This model is like the way you would read a big newspaper. You're sitting holding it in your hands and you want to read the ads at the bottom, so you move the paper up in your hands to bring the bottom of the page up to eye level. When you want to go back up, you shift the paper down in your hands. To read the left page, you'll move the paper to your right to bring the left page closer to you. This translates into swiping up to scroll down, swiping right to go left, and so on. The interesting thing about the case of scrolling is that neither mapping is the "correct" one. One or the other will be better for a particular user based on their mental model of what scrolling means for them at the time of use.
Michael Pack 13:53, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
- Affordances are cultural. This is something that archaeologists have to deal with every day. When classifying an artifact they must consider the most likely use to that particular culture, at that particular time. There are many examples of misinterpreted artifacts because of a wrong assumption about the affordances of an object. The natural tendency is to think of these artifacts in our present mindset and assume that the object had a similar use as it might have today, but that is not always the case. Disabilities also play a huge role in the affordance of an object. An objects intended use may not benefit the disabled in the same way that it benefits others. The blind often use dogs for guidance while others who can see do not. It is simply not something that would benefit them nearly as much as it benefits those who cannot see.
- In order to maintain usability with small devices like watches it is important to keep the interface very minimal. Keep out any unnecessary features and use multiple screens for necessary items that don’t fit cleanly into the main screen. It’s better to have a great interface than have every feature available so an appropriate balance must be found between usability and features.
- Clearly the iPhone (iOS) revolutionized the mobile touch interface. It has basically no learning curve. Rather than creating something with many features they created something that was intuitive and extremely easy to use.
Manduo Dong 14:01, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
I think it depends. Some affordances can be cultural while others tend to be universal. Raw materials such as wood, vegetable, water tend to be cultural because these things exist throughout human history and different people from different part of the world may use it differently. On the other hand, processed and manufactured things are not that cultural. For example, the affordances of computers and cellphones are limited and not affected by culture. I think the affordances are still the same for disabled people because they learned affordances same as other people who are in the same culture atmosphere.
We can add a button to watch. When you press the button, the watch will illuminate and show you the time. The time and its background should be illuminated with different and contrast colors.
Some new cars have collision detection system (CDS) which allow them to detect potential collisions. When the sensors detect a object that is too close to the car, it will signal the car to slow down in order to avoid the collision or reduce the damage of the collision.
Sorin Kim 14:06, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
Affordances are cultural. A really short table would have an obvious use if seen by people of a culture that tends to eat meals together gathered around a short table while sitting on the floor. However, if someone of a culture that never formally sits on the floor sees a really short table, they may not understand the purpose of such a table. The later group might see the really short table and use it as a somewhat short bench instead. Affordances vary with disabilities as well. A blind person would not use a television for audio and visual entertainment, but would find a kind of use in it much more like a radio, as an audio entertainment device.
A work around for visibility problems on small devices could be textural and audio clues. You can make buttons stand out a bit to make them more texturally obvious under a user's finger and make the device beep when buttons have been pressed so the user knows that they have given a command to the device instead of wondering if they had actually succeeded in pressing the tiny button.
An example of a well executed control would be the long push-bar "handle" on some doors. The absence of a grabbable handle or doornob clearly sends the message that you must push the door to open it. Also, the surpressable push-bar is at the same vertical level on the door as a nob or handle would be and is jutting out from the door's face, so it is clear that you are ment to push the bar and not just on any random part of the door's face.
Zheng He 14:07, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
I agree that affordances are cultural. Many cultural habits pre-dominant people's behaviors on table. For example, there are some people drinking handwash water on the table while eating lobster because the bowl is small and it's on the table, where usually we put food and drink. Affordances are different for people with disabilities. As previous statement, people with disabilities probably develop some habits, which others don't have, that can cause some problems for designers who don't put special needs within products.
In my experience, small screen devices usually integrate their input functions into their buttons. I had a car with a small digital display, which shows much information, which switches by a tunable, pushable button, which even take me in and out some control menus. One multifunctional button saves space on the screen and make the whole device simple and powerful.
I had a Macbook once and the controlling of OSX was impressive because of the multitouch pad. Another example is that the game half-life, which I think is classic, has easy and intuitive user interface. And Cathay Pacific Airline's 747 planes equip some nice on-board entertainments, which you can play games and music, watch videos, and shopping.
Ivan Motyashov 14:11, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
- I think affordances are mostly cultural. They're not necessarily immediately intuitive to a tabula rasa. Instead, most are learned through observing people who use everyday objects and generalizing and abstracting away common affordances. In the case of disabled people, affordances may be different, since the same object would not "afford" the same functionality to the disabled user (someone who is paralyzed from the waist down will have trouble using the bicycle, for example).
- To improve visibility for small devices like watches, one could either design the interface to be extremely minimalistic and, consequently, be able to get away with one or two large entities (icons) on the screen at a time. One could also look for ways to transfer the image to another medium. For example, the watch could have a built-in projector that would project on any surface you point it at. Or it could be possible to connect the watch to another screen or projector (living room TV, computer) via a wireless link.
- A fairly obvious example of good and intuitive mapping is the Nintendo Wii, whose entire concept is built around the idea of directly translating the user's actions with the physical control to the virtual object they are controlling (e.g. sword, golf club, etc.)
Mano Pagalavan 14:12, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
Seeing as different cultures means a set a different practices, affordances are definitely cultural. Each culture has a different way accomplishing a certain task, though the goal is the same. For example, some cultures may require sacrificing an animal to please the gods, while other cultures have different ways to please god(s). Hence affordances, the properties of an object which determine how to use something, are cultural. Affordances are also different for disabled people, because while we can read a book with our eyes, a blind person can only read a book through braille with their fingers, which is different. In this case, the book has no affordances for the blind person since they can't read, while the braille book has no affordances for us since we can't read braille.
A workaround for the visibility of a watch can be a watch with a display that showed the time in large characters, and one button which can be pressed to speak the time.
In practically every Mac application in which there is a toolbar at top offering general functionality (such as in Finder, where you can go back and forward, etc), you can right-click this area, and customize toolbar, where you can choose to show icon text. This labels each toolbar item very clearly, and is a feature I use regularly.
Gautam Jain 14:14, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
Affordances are may vary from culture to culture, but there are a significant number of affordances that have become universal. Even then, I feel a lot of affordances are learned and not innate. For example, the vast majority of people would immediately know that earphones are meant to be used to listen to audio. However there are little design cues that indicate such use.
People with disabilities have different affordances, often a subset of those possesed by people who are not disabled. This may be due to impaired object recognition/understanding, impaired physical dexterity, etc.
Visibility could be improved by increasing contrast/brightness, or by some other form of feedback, e.g. audio, vibration. Most Apple products are known for their good design. Their early generation iPods with the circular ring control on the front had multiple controlls mapped to the same ring (play, pause, forward, rewind, scroll). However it was done in a way where it was not at all difficult to understand and use.
Allan Yu 14:15, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
Do you think affordances are cultural? Are they different for people with disabilities? Yes, absolutely. Even what you would think are the most intuitive, instinctive actions are cultural. The word for surprise pain in english is "ow", whereas in China it is "ay ya!". Different people perceive things differently. People in some middle eastern countries perceive the thumbs-up sign as "f*** you". An interface that utilized a thumbs up sign to mean OK would obviously be interpreted differently in other countries. Much different with people with disabilities, where the sense spectrum is completely offset. Blind people depend much more on hearing, for example.
Visibility is a problem for small devices, like say, watches. Can you think of some workarounds? A work around would be to have a projecting device that attaches to the watch. Another would be to just attach a magnifying glass device on top.
Give some examples of well-executed and novel mappings in controls that you have seen. I think the most novel mappings in controls have been the apple touchpad. The swipe movements and gestures are not completely intuitive, but intuitive enough to pick up rather quickly. Plus, they increase efficiency greatly by no longer having to navigate and click the menu for certain options.
Jiahao Li 14:19, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
I think affordances, though some of which are universal, are mostly cultural. They're based on peoples' stereotypical perception in different cultures. The history,natural environment, daily life styles and people around you all affect the affordances of specific objects. For disabeld people, affordances would differs. Take a simple example, how should a deaf person know what is a touch screen as they cannot see it?
The nature of small devices prevents them from having too many physical add-ons when the designers want to implement more features. A workaround is that digital watches have just one or two buttons to select between multiple functions using a menu.
The most eminent example I can think of is Apple's HOME key. Also the touch pad of macbook is really good example. With intuitive motions of fingers, the users can zoom out, zoon in, go to the desktop, select between different apps, etc.
Heidi Galbraith 14:23, 19 September 2011 (PDT)]
-Affordances are very cultural. The everyday objects people use vary widely across cultures. Affordances are not necessarily different for people with disabilities in general. That being said, something that functions as a chair to someone who is not disabled would not necessarily afford sitting to someone with a specific disability. However, disability has created a culture of its own.
-Basic watches do not have too many functions, so in designing you could use most of the space simply to display time. A more ridiculous type of workaround could involve some sort of projection device so that the user could see everything more clearly by projecting it onto a wall or something.
-Apple does a very good job of making their applications and devices intuitive for a non-experienced user. The idea of a single home key on the ipad/iphone simplifies the device tremendously
Aaron Chiu 14:27, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
Affordances are definitely cultural. However, that doesn't mean it should hinder us. We all can work digital watches if we try hard enough. It's a matter of mind set and these days Googling for the solution to our problems (it's on the internet somewhere!).
Simplicity in design solves almost every problem. The complexity of a digital watch is because the watch contain many, many features, especially features only one or two users use.
Guoxiong Xie 14:28, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
Some affordances are cultural while some are not. I think most of the affordances are shared by people around the world. One of the example to illustrate some affordances related to culture is pork. When a non-Muslim people see a pig, he/she may think of pork/meal, but when a Muslim people see a pig, he/she may think of it as a sacred creature.
A workaround for a watch could be enlarging the selected field in a watch. Similar to the way iphone enlarges the keys the user strikes, a digital watch can enlarge the selected fields to show the time, date, alarm setting, etc.
An example of well-executed and novel mappings in controls would be a mechanical pencil, which provides a convenient way to change the pencil lead and easy to modify something with the eraser attached at the end of it. Another example is a bicycle, which maximize the usage of a human's hands and feet. The brakes controller attached to the handle bar makes it easy to stop the bicycle.
Jingchen Wu 14:32, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
While affordances aren't all cultural, they certain could be. Even in the door example, a bar handle on a door can be used to both pull and push. I remember coming to the US and feeling estranged by the bars on doors. Similarly, for example a deaf person might not be very keen to keep an ear out for the "buzz" sound from a Mac when you perform an invalid operation.
Most small devices are personal devices, like an iPod, watch, or wallet. One solution is to have the owner go through a well-designed, intuitive manual that's not too hard to read. Another solution is to sticky on tags with instructions that the user can rip off once they're comfortable with knowing how to use the device. Finally, the last solution would be to use a digital display.
Both the iPod and Android OS has a very intuitive mapping by incorporating the Menu (iPod) and Back (Android) key. This allows the user to intuitively go back one screen no matter which screen they're currently on. This is expanded partially by the Android's Menu key, which is very much like a right click on a PC.
Kim Nguyen 14:36, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
I think affordances are cultural. The context of affordances are determined through a person's perception and upbringing - factors influenced by culture. Context change as different culture interpret their own meaning out of objects, events, or actions. Affordances are also different with people with disabilities. Context and meaning are different from those without disabilities as there are different limitations and impairment.
Visibility on small devices can be improved by intuitive/smart design, larger faces/characters on a simple interface. An example of novel mapping would be how Apple implemented the touch screen (on iPhone). The idea of the smart phone was not new when the iPhone came out, however after the touch screen, the iPhone become synonymous with the smart phone with a large part to its UI. Its mapping was so intuitive, easy, and visually appealing.
Benjamin Hsieh 14:47, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
For the most part, affordances are almost nearly always cultural; every culture reacts to situations differently. However, for people with disabilities, certain affordances become reacted to in the same way due to universal handicaps set in place.
For visibility on small items, rather than simply enlarging the view, certain tweaks like using a more standout colour scheme could help with visibility.
The Starcraft, selecting a unit to build a structure can have the process edited to have shortcuts that are mapped to a grid of keys on the keyboard.
Omar Rehmane 14:54, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
Affordances are definitely cultural. Globalization of culture has reduced the differences between affordances, but they are still ingrained as a result of a person's formative years. The same thing applies to signs - scientists are working on finding a universal way to denote hazardous areas and are running into problems due to this very principle.
Visibility is always a problem on small screens, but there are workarounds. From a hardware perspective, backlit and other very bright interfaces can allow for more visibility. In addition, having larger fonts for the keyboard helps as well. To preserve screen real-estate, the keyboard is only visible when actually needed. As a result, when viewing, you have a the whole screen, and when typing, you have a large and easy-to-use keyboard at the expense of smaller viewing area. I think the modern iOS implementation is very good in this regard.
Jonah Turnquist 16:25, 19 September 2011 (PDT)
Affordances are generally cultural. This is because how we perceive something aught to be used is based on past experiences on using things that looked similar. For instance, a square affords to a button for most people, as most people have experiences using buttons that are square. I believe experiences that these could vary from culture to culture. Also, people with disabilities could have different views on things afforded. For instance, a person without hands may not understand what affords itself to a button so easily.
For devices with a small display: A workaround is to display as little content at a time as possible, and use simple buttons or gestures to navigate the content. Also, content can be made to be smaller without sacrificing meaning, for instance the text "Power on" could be replaced with a lit-up power symbol.
One nice mapping I have seen is the toilet flusher. It affords itself to be pushed down which represents how everything in the toilet goes *down* the hole. It is like a reset button
Felix Wong 19:47, 23 September 2011 (PDT)
Affordances are cultural in the sense that some of them depend on your surroundings, while others are universal. The universal affordances are essentially the ones that are not based on culture. Whenever a person sees a chair, he or she will sit in it, no matter where that chair is located (i.e. Africa, China, Brazil). It is understood that the chair affords to be sit on. Other things, like rugs on a floor, do not have affordances that are universal. Most cultures would walk on rugs, but others sit on them, say around a table to eat. In that case, the affordances are very cultural. People that have disabilities would have trouble doing this affordance, since it may be difficult for a person to sit on a rug. That said, the affordance does not necessarily change, just that it is more difficult for a person to do it. However, if a person is blind, and he or she feels an lcd monitor with a flat screen, he or she may not know that it is a monitor. Instead, he or she may think that it is a very smooth wall of some sort. In that case, the affordance might change.
Visibility of watches depends on how visiblility a user wants. A watch does not show a lot of information, so adding more visible things to it would make it probably more cumbersome to use. However, if a user wants to see the screen better, say, then the screen could be made bigger, or buttons could be bigger with text on or around it that tell what the buttons do. If really necessary, a hologram type thing could be put into a watch to project a large image onto a wall.
As everyone has said, the Apple trackpad has a very well executed mapping to it. It is mostly intuitive to use; two fingers scroll left, right, up, and down, three fingers goes to the top and bottom of the page, four fingers give the desktop or expose. The entire trackpad also functions as a writing pad when you change languages to write in, say, Korean, Japanese, or Chinese.