Six vocabulary words you should know if you want to be a UI/UX designer.

Fundamental Principles of Interactions I


When I started learning UI/UX design my professor recommended for me the book The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman. This book is an incredible learning source for people who are starting learn the basics of design.

Early in the book Norman introduce us to the Principles of Interactions that you should be familiar with and now be part of your vocabulary.

Great designers produce pleasurable experiences.
Experience determines how fondly people remember their interactions.
Interacting with a product leads to discoverability.
Discoverability results from the appropriate application of five physiological concepts.

  1. Affordances

    The term affordances refer to the relationship between a physical object and an interactive agent (person, animal, robots) to determine what actions are possible.Example:
    – A chair affords (“is used for”) support and, therefore, affords sitting.
    – A baby cannot lift a chair, then this chair does not have an affordance.Affordance is determined by the qualities of an object and the abilities of the interactive agent. Affordance is a relationship NOT a property.

  2. Signifiers 

    Signifiers communicate where the action should take place.
    Designers need to provide clues to help people understand what the product is for and what is happening by using any mark or sound, any perceivable indicator that communicates appropriate behavior to a person.Example Dialogue:
    A is telling B why he displayed a circle on a screen to indicate where the person should touch, whether by mouse or by finger.A: I put an affordance there.
    B: That is not an affordance. That is a way of communicating where the touch should be. The affordance of touching exists on the entire screen, you are trying to signify where the touch should take place.


  3. Mapping 

    The relationship between the elements of two sets of things.
    There are mapping techniques that feel natural like pressing arrows to move in a certain direction like up and down.
    Good mapping means to take advantage of spatial techniques.Example:
    The screenshot below explains how mapping was used to control the adjustment of an automobile seat Mercedes-Benz:
    To move the front edge of the seat higher, lift up on the front part of the button.
    To make the seat back recline, move the button back.


  4. Feedback 

    Feedback communicates the results of an action between the object and the interactive agent.
    Have you ever seen a person repeatedly push the pedestrian button at a street crossing? What is missing, in this case, is feedback: some way of letting you know that the system is working on your request.

  5. Conceptual models 

    A conceptual model is a simplified explanation of how something works. The files, folders, and icons that you see displayed on your computer screen help people create the conceptual model of documents or apps residing on the screen waiting to be summoned.
    Conceptual models reside in the minds of the people who are using the product, so they are also mental models. Mental models are the conceptual models in people’s mind that represent their understanding of how things work.