Affordances

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 is the alarm clock I put next to my bed. I use it to check the time and also set morning alarm.

However, when I wrapped it with plastic, it was difficult to check the time though ti’s still possible. I can still see the knob to set the alarm.

When I was blindfolded, I couldn’t see the time anymore. Also, the wrap prevented me from knowing where the alarm knob is. I also couldn’t see the indicator of what time the alarm is set to. I realize that the clock is not designed for visually impaired people.

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.

Clock is a common object in daily life. Its usage is standardized through mass production. Though there are many designs of clock, its affordance remain the same, which is helpful for any people when buying a new clock.

With the clock wrapped, the visibility of functionality is reduced to close to zero.

For visually impaired people, I would imagine those people never use clock before will have trouble using it as they might not have the usage model in their mind. And even people who are recently visually impaired will not be able to use it due to the lack of audio telling them what time it is. A better designed clock should have audio features to assist these types of users. I found a nice collection of “talking clocks” that have the feature integrated.

Any object should be designed to last long. Designer should consider the physical conditions that the users are in. When users have injuries, sickness, it might be harder for them to actually use the object. Designing only for perfectly healthy people will reduce the accessibility of the object greatly. Regarding affordance, it should come in the form of visual, sound, haptic design to communicate with a wide range of users.

Documents of the tutorial can be found here.

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