The design of any interactive device or object has been refined to make it as user friendly as possible, some more than others, to make it easy to pick up and know or quickly learn how to use it. If you buy a new ‘thing’, like a microwave, and can get it out of the box, turn it on, and cook your 2 minute noodles without looking at the manual or researching how to use it, the refining of the product worked. If a product is designed like this then it requires only a small amount of affordance (use of time and energy) from you to work out how to use it.
But if the ‘thing’, or microwave, is too complicated or non refined to use, like there is no labels on the microwave buttons, then of course you will need to get a manual out, do some research or try work the buttons out by trying each button and recording the results. This requires a large amount of time and energy so a lot of affordances.
For the above reason that is why some band new technology doesn’t get a great foothold in the market because is requires users to learn something totally new which in turn means a lot of affordances. Yet an object or device that follows on from or is similar to something the user has previously learned will do better because a smaller amount of learning has to take place.
This idea is explained in a quote in a TED presentation by Don Norman. He told us how “placing a plank of wood on the ground and walking over it is a relatively simple task, however sticking the same plank a hundred meters up is unlikely to yield the same results”.
Almost everything made is an interactive design. Whether it has a use, or to be looked at, be touched or felt, it is interactive with you in some way. This is why interactive design is so important in the modern competitive market place. An object or device that is more interactive yet requires less affordances is more likely to sell over something that is opposite. This is sometimes not the case like with Adobe Photoshop where functionality over affordances wins.
In our lecture about Interactive Design we were told to design and create, in a group, a wearable interactive device.
Device is illustrated in this Google Document