Designing Affordances for Direct Interaction

By Axel Roesler.

Published by The International Journal of Designed Objects

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published Online: April 5, 2016 $US5.00

Affordances are visual indications for potential actions. The concept of affordances lies at the center of design principles for Interaction Design and forms the basis for understanding, sense making, and actionable representations. The term affordances was coined by the ecological psychologist James J. Gibson in 1977. The cognitive psychologist Ulric Neisser explored the implications of affordances in his book “Cognition and Reality” in 1976. He introduced the perceptual cycle as a new model for perception/action coupling, a model that today can be considered a comprehensive model for interactions. Don Norman introduced the term affordances to the design community in his book “The Design of Everyday Things” in 1986. This paper examines the role of affordances for design in light of the new findings in cognitive science and neuroscience and presents a framework for designing affordance that is directly actionable as a representation that provides the right information for action at the right moment in the right form and in the right place. Design principles for affordances are illustrated with the design of a next generation primary flight display for the commercial flight deck.

Keywords: Visual Design, Interface Design, Designing Information Systems and Architectures, Interaction Design, Cognitive Systems Engineering

The International Journal of Designed Objects, Volume 10, Issue 2, June, 2016, pp.1-16. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published Online: April 5, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 967.269KB)).

Dr. Axel Roesler

Assistant Professor, Division of Design, School of Art, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA