Q1. Choose one of the objects you selected and describe how your initial understanding of its affordances changed over the course of the exercise?
The object I chosen is toothpaste. At the very beginning, I think it can only be used for us to clean our teeth. But this exercise let us to think if we change it from bathroom to kitchen or bedroom, whether it will have some more affordances. And I thought if I put it into the kitchen, I could use it clean bowls, pots or other things. If I put it in the bedroom, I could use it to clean the corner of drawers.
Q2. Given that affordances is a relational property between a person and an object, how did the manipulation of the object and the person’s abilities inform your understanding of the concept? Did it give you inspiration or insight for how to work with affordances as a designer? Discuss this through the specific objects you explored in the exercise.
-Sometimes people cannot use some parts of body to control or complete something, so they need to rely on some objects that can help them. So some connections are created. For examples, the toothpaste I chosen, I want to rebuild a connection between People and kitchen, so I used aluminum foil to cover its appearance, and added an arc parts in its head. Then it was changed as a big spoon or spatula.
-Inspirations comes from our daily life. When we want to solve some problems, we would get inspirations easier. As a designer, I think he can think the affordances as different angles. Apart from object’s original property, change its weight, shape, volume may create some affordances.
1) What kinds of information and insights did it give you about the usability of the prototype?
User: When I opened the website with my particular task, I was directly go to searching box and searched key words because I think it is the most efficient way when you want to find a specific thing. But normally I will not notice when I do so. So the benefit of think aloud is it is another way to remind yourself what you did and what were your thoughts when you do so.
Evaluator: It is very interesting to be an evaluator because I can see the changes of emotions when users met different situation and how would they do to solve the problem. It is a good way to understand user’s feelings and frustrations because you can feel it from their voices and facial expressions.
2) What aspects of the technique worked well or were frustrating?
The think aloud was worked well because I would say anything that pop out from my mind when I was using the website and it also helped me to make decisions. However, I was frustrated in user observation because I could not help the user when she met a problem and don’t know where to go. I wanted to point out for her so much, but the only thing I can do is to see her click to wrong pages over and over again which is very frustrating.
1) Choose one of the objects you selected and describe how your initial understanding of its affordances changed over the course of the exercise?
The object I chose was a toothbrush. By observing, I think the affordance of this object is cleaning which not only limited to clean teeth, but also for shoes or sinks. And then I started thinking about other affordance of this object when I was holding it. I thought it can use as a painting tool because it may be can form some unique shapes.
2) Given that affordances is a relational property between a person and an object, how did the manipulation of the object and the person’s abilities inform your understanding of the concept? Did it give you inspiration or insight for how to work with affordances as a designer? Discuss this through the specific objects you explored in the exercise.
Through the reforming exercise, we change the shape of the object we chose in order to create new affordance. And it is really surprising of how it changes to have a new function. So I think the creative thinking is very important as a designer when working with affordance. However, the primary thing to consider is the object should be easy to use. In other words, users do not need to take many times to consider what is the object use for, the affordance of the object should be very obvious and users can use them right away.
Poster – zyan9394
Choose one of the objects that you selected and describe how your initial understanding of its initial affordances changed over the course of the exercise. Step 1 was sketching my three items (wooden pencil sharpener, cotton bud and a teaspoon). I found that by sketching the object, I was able to pinpoint which features were most characteristic and highlight these visually but annotating extended my consideration further and helped me to attune to other sensory properties (weight, texture, sound, materiality). Through interacting with the object, actively looking for other capacities for use and mentally inserting it into different contexts, I was able to distance myself from the way I am conditioned to interacting with the objects and come up with a wide range of alternative applications or affordances. I considered how different users might interact with the object, and these constraints and varying capacities helped me to be more creative in imagining how the functionality of the object might be improved for some user groups, with small adaptations to the design. For instance, I imagined that a person with a tremor could not use a teaspoon very well as lifting the spoon and scooping requires precision. I also tested whether right-handed people find it easier to use the pencil sharpener than I do, as someone who is left-handed.
Given that affordances is a relational property between a person and an object, how did the manipulation of the object and person’s abilities inform your understanding of the subject? Did it give you inspiration or insight for how to work with affordances as a designer? Discuss this through the specific objects you explored in the exercise. Gaver defines affordances thus: “Affordances are properties of the world that are compatible with and relevant for people’s interactions. When affordances are perceptible, they offer a direct link between perception and action; hidden and false affordances lead to mistakes” (Gaver 1991, P.79). From the perspective of Norman: “affordances reflect the possible relationships among actors and objects: they are properties of the world (Norman 1999, P.42). According to Gibson, “affordances are relationships. They exist naturally: they do not have to be visible, known, or desirable” (Gibson in Norman 1999, P. 39). To expand:
- Perceptible affordances are obvious attributes with potentials that users perceive in their environment for action “without significant intermediate stages involving memory or inferences” (Gaver 1999, P.729).
- False affordances are misleading signposts that suggest a capacity that an object does not have. “When apparent affordances suggest different actions than those for which the object is designed, errors are common and signs are necessary” (Gaver 1991, P.80).
- Hidden affordances are when there is potential for action but these are not obvious to the user. “If there is no information available for an existing affordance, it is hidden and must be inferred from other evidence (Gaver 1991, P.80).
During Step 3 of the exercise I moved from sketching (observation) to tactile exploration. “Affordances are not passively perceived, but explored” (Gaver 1991, P.82). By imagining my objects reframed in different contexts (rooms of the house), as well as testing out their capacities in relation to my own body, I discovered the following alternative uses; many of which are not limited to the visual – “affordances may be perceived using other senses as well” (Norman 1999, P.82).
- Teaspoon: perceptible affordances included measuring, stirring, scratching, hitting, turning (like an allen key), combing hair and making noises.
- Cotton bud: cleaning ears, applying and removing dots, stirring, mark-making with paint or glue, mopping up small drips with absorbency (I also thought a kid might put it up their nose), rolling along a hard surface to massage the palm muscles.
- Pencil sharpener: sharpening pencils, tiny instrument (especially if hit with spoon), pencil holder (if turned on the end). The pencil sharpener had a false affordance as it has a small hole at the end (probably to prevent graphite compacting at its end) however this suggests that something should be inserted into this hole, just as the larger hole does at the other end.
The second half of the tutorial, subverting artificial affordances was where I was able to apply the lessons of thinking using different perspectives and identifying hidden and false affordances of the objects. During this section, I practiced using my objects with a disability (only one arm, which was tethered to my body with Glad wrap and also using modified chopsticks to hinder functionality) and this allowed me to identify the primary affordances and explore constraints. My partner’s eyes were blindfolded using aluminum foil, which highlighted the non-visual perceptible affordances. We also subverted a complex object (a Swiss-army knife of cutlery) to limit its functionality, and we practiced exploring the uses of this strange object. We found the object retained most of its functionality, however it took on new affordances as a sculpture and shadow maker. I felt this process counteracted a tendency identified by Norman: the “designer cares more about what actions the user perceives to be possible than what is true” (Norman 1999, P. 39) and helped us to break free of the perceived affordances with the outcome of discovering hidden affordances and a consideration of ways to improve the original object.
Gaver, W. (1991). Technology affordances in Proceedings of the SIGHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’91) in Robertson, S. et al. New York, USA. ACM, Pp.79-84
Norman, D (1999). Affordance, conventions and design, Interactions 6 (21:4); Pp. 36-9
Wright, P., Wallace, J., and McCarthy, J. (2008). Aesthetics and experience-centered design, Computer-Human Interactions (15:4), Article 18 (November 2008)
Q1. Choose one of the object you selected and describe how your initial understanding of its affordances changed over the course of the exercise?
In this tutorial, one of the objects I brought was a comb. At the first stage, I just took a look at the comb without physically touching it and thought about the basic affordances it has such as for brushing hair. Then on the second stage I physically touched it and think what else I can do with it. Then I figured out that I could make some funny sound with my comb and thought that the comb could be a musical instrument. On the third stage, I changed the context of the object, in this case I chose comb to be used in the kitchen. hence I found out that it could be used to replace the fork because they both have quite similar shape. I found out that I could use the comb to mash avocados and even to take some spaghetti from a large bowl.
Hence, through these stages I became understand the affordances of an object could be discovered when we as the users are capable to make use of the properties of an object without any written or verbal instructions.
Q2. Given that affordances is a relational property between a person and an object, how did the manipulation of the object and the person’s abilities inform your understanding of the concept? Did it give you inspiration or insight for how to work with affordances as a designer? Discuss this through the specific objects you explored in the exercise
As a good design should have a lot of affordances, the modification exercise is one of the example to provide chances to our partner (user) to explore additional or hidden affordances of an object.
This exercise gave me some insights on how important the affordance is. As designers, we should be able to design an object that has ability to show its affordances so that the users could easily understand what they could do to it or otherwise, the object would become ‘useless’. Moreover, we should also let the users be imaginative with our products so we could always improve our designs.