What makes a button a button?

24 Aug 2010 - 4:33am
3 years ago
2 replies
1549 reads
marianamota
2008

Hi all! 

We've just done a new blog post in our "Design, Development, Usability" blog and would really like your opinion and comments.

"What makes a button a button?"

The post discuss about affordance of buttons and question the relationship between visual design and usability.

Check it out:
http://designdevelopmentusability.blogspot.com/2010/08/what-makes-button-button.html

And our Twitter:
http://twitter.com/desdevusability

Comments

25 Aug 2010 - 12:18am
Bruce Melendy
2009

'Affordances' is new to me. The definition linked from the story refers only to 'visual clues', though other senses can also detect affordances. Eg, the ticking sound that tells the visually impaired that they are at a crosswalk that's safe to cross. The Oxford English Dictionary agrees:

A characteristic of an object, esp. relating to its potential utility, which can be inferred from visual or other perceptual signals; (more widely) a quality or utility which is readily apparent or available.

   1966 J. J. Gibson Senses considered as Perceptual Systems xiii. 285 When the constant properties of constant objects are perceived (the shape, size, color‥[etc.]), the observer can go on to detect their affordances. I have coined this word as a substitute for values, a term which carries an old burden of philosophical meaning. I mean simply what things furnish, for good or ill.    1978 Science 10 Mar. 1060/3 Gibson‥asserts that there are correspondences between a visual perception and an object's characteristics (‘affordances’). Thus, if there is optical information that a surface is rigid, flat, level, and extended, then the surface affords ‘sit-on-ableness’.    1997 Brit. Jrnl. Philos. Sci. 48 599 An organism that can track an affordance only through a single, specific cue is very limited in its ability to use feedback to control and modulate its behaviour, for it is restricted to reliance on variation over time in that single cue.    2002 New Yorker 25 Mar. 93/1 Digital documents‥have their own affordances. They can be easily searched, shared, stored, accessed remotely‥. But they lack the affordances that really matter to a group of people working together.

Regards,

Bruce

25 Aug 2010 - 3:05am
Daniel Gross
2009

Hello all,

An enlightening book on Gibson is (1). It explains the notion of Affordance in more detail, and in relation to a theory of information.

I think one key element of Gibson's affordance is that it is defined in relation to an agent. It is the capabilities of the agent that determines what affordance an object offers for that agent, and thus what operational meaning (and thus information) an object carries for that agent.

Say, for a snake, a branch on the ground, carries a different affordance (say, "obstacle to move around or over") than say for a nesting bird ("nest wall buildable").

Daniel

(1) Michaels, C. F., & Carello, C. (1981). Direct Perception. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey 07632: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

-----Original Message----- From: ixdaor@host.ixda.org [mailto:ixdaor@host.ixda.org] On Behalf Of Bruce Melendy Sent: Wednesday, August 25, 2010 9:44 AM To: daniel.gross@utoronto.ca Subject: Re: [IxDA] What makes a button a button?

'Affordances' is new to me. The definition [1]linked from the story refers
only to 'visual clues', though other senses can also detect affordances. Eg,
the ticking sound that tells the visually impaired that they are at a
crosswalk that's safe to cross. The Oxford English Dictionary agrees:

A characteristic of an object, esp. relating to its potential utility, which
can be inferred from visual or other perceptual signals; (more widely) a
quality or utility which is readily apparent or available.

*1966 *J. J. Gibson /Senses considered as Perceptual Systems /xiii. 285
When the constant properties of constant objects are perceived (the shape,
size, color‥[etc.]), the observer can go on to detect their affordances. I
have coined this word as a substitute for values, a term which carries an old
burden of philosophical meaning. I mean simply what things furnish, for good
or ill. *1978 */Science /10 Mar. 1060/3 Gibson‥asserts that there are
correspondences between a visual perception and an object's characteristics
(‘affordances’). Thus, if there is optical information that a surface is
rigid, flat, level, and extended, then the surface affords
‘sit-on-ableness’. *1997 */Brit. Jrnl. Philos. Sci. /48 599 An
organism that can track an affordance only through a single, specific cue is
very limited in its ability to use feedback to control and modulate its
behaviour, for it is restricted to reliance on variation over time in that
single cue. *2002 */New Yorker /25 Mar. 93/1 Digital documents‥have
their own affordances. They can be easily searched, shared, stored, accessed
remotely‥. But they lack the affordances that really matter to a group of
people working together.

Regards,

Bruce

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