Thursday, June 14, 2007

I'm just too old for some of the new design trends, and I'm starting to mutter at my PC sounding like my Aunt Hattie (bless her heart). I'm back on my soap box about how affordances are going out of vogue with interaction designers in favor of pliancy. One more time in English:

Affordance is the quality an object to look actionable by the nature of its appearance. A graphic of a button with the word Submit on it has a lot of affordance. The convention of underlining a link and putting it in color is so ubiquitous that it has become an affordance.

Pliancy is when an actionable object changes appearance when you mouse over it.

I was on Boxes and Arrows (a premier site on design), and I wanted to read the article "Comics: Not just for laughs!" in the snapshot above. I kept clicking on the author's name, and I kept getting a bio of the author. Finally I moved my mouse incidentally over the name of the article and voila! it turned red and was underlined.
Why does the most important action a user would want to take (open the article) not have an affordance while the links to the author's bio and comments on the article have them?
This is like so Web 2.0 where the user is expected to explore the page in order to discover its functionality as if it were a PlayStation game. I'm feeling ancient.

I know, don't talk, Mike, with your mouth full of Metamucil.

1 comment:

Al Hood said...

Metamucil, huh? We are both showing our age.