The concept of affordances is a somewhat lesser known topic in UI/UX design. However, it plays a key role in how we interact with technology every day.
The term affordance was originally coined by James Gibson in the 1970's to denote action possibilities provided to the actor by the environment. In other words, affordance is when the physical characteristics or properties of an object suggest an intended use for the object. It's much easier to understand through example rather than definition so here are a few in our every day lives:
Yet More examples
By now you've probably caught on to the idea and can even think of a few more examples on your own.
Affordance in User Interface Design
Affordance in the digital realm is something that software designers should strive to achieve. It's not as straightforward to accomplish as with physical objects but there are still some clear situations where it makes sense to use. I'll cover just a couple of examples drawing from the Giving Change web app that I built in 2017.
Introducing affordance in any design is always a good idea. It requires less thought from the user and provides a more intuitive experience. Although it can be harder to carry out digitally as compared to the physical world, there are several ways to capitalize on affordance in user interface design. If you are interested in learning more on how I can help you build an intuitive user experience in your own software, please contact me today.