Affordances are not Afterthoughts

When we have a great event, such as the TriUXPA meeting tonight, we realize what great things collaboration can accomplish! Richard Phelps, the president of the chapter; the speakers, Rex Hartson from Virginia Tech and Pardha Pyla from Bloomberg; Lulu for hosting the event; and the 20 plus members who came out. Thanks to all!

This was fun and informative. “Affordances and their Importance to UX Practitioners” was the title of the presentation. Rex and Pardha, joint authors of The UX Book: Process and Guidelines for Ensuring a Quality User Experience, gave a great introduction to “affordances”, those aspects of the user experience that help, aid, or guide the user. This is such an important part of the user experience; it’s amazing that it is not covered sooner is their book. (It’s in chapter 20.) A few lucky members won free copies of the book – I know who I’m borrowing a copy from. Here’s an invitation to anyone who reads the book (or has read the book) – if you want to post your opinion of it or comments about it, I’ll post a blog entry here on my site – just submit it to me.

Lulu has a great facility on Hillsborough near the campus of NC State University. With the Irregardless Cafe providing the food, you couldn’t have a better hosted event!

During the question and answer period, there was talk about “Save” being a dying metaphor – why should the user have to click a button to perform a Save action, when the application should just take care of that? (as Google Docs handles edits of a page.) There was mention of Metro but this is new to me, so I’ll have to read up on this before I talk more about it. Since most of their examples of ‘affordances’ in the user interface were about buttons and levers and things to start an action or a task, I asked about affordances that indicate whether a task is complete or the status of the progress if something is loading or the user has to wait. Rex answered that this is covered in the book. He also mentioned that affordances can indicate what the next step should be for a user, if tasks are dependent or must be performed sequentially. This is definitely something I’m going to work on with the designers/developers at Paragon, where I work.

Bloomberg is also now hiring for multiple UX positions. See open positions here: If anyone is looking to hire a talented new grad, contact Mercedes Gosby and tell her Bill Albing sent you.

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One Response to Affordances are not Afterthoughts

  1. Rick says:

    Thanks Bill… I gotta remember to add TriUXPA events to my calendar!

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