Every single object has values called affordances. The definition of affordances is characteristics held by an object that allows the user to take action with. Affordances refer to the relation between the object and the person. What the person can do with the object. Affordances introduced by James J. Gibson, to interpret possible interaction between the world (object) and the user.

Don Norman, divides affordances into two types. Physical object retain actual affordances, which users able to actually manipulate trough sight, touch, sound, even smell or taste. Graphical object however, hold perceived affordances, as the existence is only virtual, and possible interactions exist only in this particular area. Affordances in virtual area are achieved by convention. Perceived affordances are not apparent and understandable instantly, instead they are acknowledged by common experiences. movil_02 Affordances of a contemporary smartphone achieved also with convention. When first introduced, without any guides or introductions from the smartphone designer, common people with no knowledge of the gadget would encounter difficulties to interpret what they can do with it. With practices and experiences, people eventually learn how to use smartphones. Tap, double tap, drag, slide, hold/press, swipe, rotate, press and drag, pinch, spread currently being recognized as affordances of smartphones. We understand to swipe trough screen pages, tap on apps icons to open it, hold/press to open properties, pinch or spread to zoom images. Affordances of a smartphone as a telephone device also need to be introduced as well as the devices has no similarity in physical shape.

As we can see in the video bellow, Steve Jobs has a lot to explain when he first introduced iPhone in 2007.

On applications side, as a result of advance technology, designers replicate real affordances into virtual world. Taking inspiration of real world physical object interaction and applying into human-computer interaction is attributed as skeuomorphism. Applications and games for smartphones with touchscreen ability frequently adopt skeuomorphism principles. Two simple examples are Zippo lighter app, and Office Jerk game. unnamed

Zippo lighter app


Office Jerk game


Interaction Design Foundation, 2010. Affordances: An Introduction. [online] Available at: <; [Accessed 27 November 2014]. Norman, 2011. Affordances.

Available at: <; [Accessed 29 November 2014] Touretzky and Tira-Thompson, 2008. Affordances. [online] Available at: <; [Accessed 29 November 2014]. Wilkins, 2014. Technology and Affordances.

Available at: <; [Accessed 30 November 2014]


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