The theory of affordances is fundamentally concerning what natural actions a user may undertake when presented with a visual object or stimulus. For example, “The postbox "invites" the mailing of a letter, the handle "wants to be grasped," and things "tell us what to do with them"’ Gibson (2014, p.130). This principle can be implemented into an immersive experience. If we look at the use of a button, most of us would conceive of the idea that a button is to be pressed and we would expect that the interaction of a button would result in some other action taking place. This isn’t an uncommon use for VR, however, what we must consider is what actions would occur if a particular button were pressed; how the button is designed to elicit a response from the user; and how the information relating to a button press is relayed to the user. In other words, what does the interaction do? When considering spatial design, according to an article in hubspot.net (2017, page.3 para.3) “When the user needs to perform a task, their first instinct will be to look for an element that represents the tool associated with that task.” The humble button can be considered a tool that allows us to perform the standard task; it is a gaming tool and interaction tool we use on an almost daily basis. This can take the form of an icon, a piece of text, or even the use of colour to stimulate a user interaction. If we consider how many buttons we click on each day, then we can argue that the pressing of a button has become a natural action of our digital culture. Think about your mobile phone, your computer, the internet browser you use; we are addicted to pressing buttons. Therefore, I have tested the use of buttons in my NHS project and have implement a simple user interface. The use of a button and our desire to click it, leads me to another topic of research: hooking behaviours and forcing the user to interact by design.
(A simplistic approach to design: a single button functioning in the correct environment for what you need to deploy and build from later)
Although the button may seem natural for us to press, given the saturation of technology briefly mentioned above, we can illicit behaviour based on a design. After reading Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, by Nir Eyal, I wanted to incorporate a desire to click a button in the immersive experience I was making for the NHS. The book itself is centred around addictive behavioural patterns and the design of systems that entice a user to perform an action. One of the key points I have looked at for the design of my experience is’…. building virtual assets, and learning to use new features are all investment users make to improve their experience.” Eyal (2014, p.10). Therefore, what I have begun to think about for the design of my experience (a work still in progress), is what choice I will make for the colour and shapes of the buttons in the experience, and what sounds I might add that trigger when a click is made. Adding visual and audio feedback is a simple way of giving the user stimulus and drawing them further into the experience and I am attempted to hook the user’s attention and force them to stay in the experience.
(starting off with a clean colour blue for the buttons and having this colour change when they are clicked on by the user.)
(Additionally, having an audio source play when the user clicks a button)
Moreover, using interactions that have a visual and auditory response can be power because “Research shows that levels of neurotransmitter dopamine surge when the brain is expecting a reward.” Eyal (2014, p.8). Therefore, what I am trying to do with this experience is provide a stimulus that will encourage the user to make choices and interact with the information they are presented with. As this project is still in development, these additions will have to be tested with end-user feedback via formal user testing. This will only be done when draft one of the immersive experience is completed, and this is scheduled to take place in late December 2019 to mid-January 2020.
Another approach, and a new design principle, taken from the article ‘The Third Generation of Interfaces’ by Dzianis Pomazau, would be to use the elements that appear in the experience, or rather, according to Pomazau (2019, Section 2 of 4 ‘Characteristics’ para.9), “content becomes interface and occupies the whole screen.” (https://www.interfaces3.com/ published on LinkedIn via Fabricio Teixeira’s post in the group User Experience Design. This approach is different from what has already been stated, although there are some similarities with designing spatial interfaces for the user. I believe this is pointing towards using elements in the experience that can be designed to be interacted with as interactive objects, which perform key design tasks.
In summary, we have looked at the potential for UX design based upon expectations or affordances of the objects in a scene. We have also looked at ways we can try to elicit a response from the user and invite them to interact with an object.
cdn2.hubspot.net (2017) Meta Spatial Interface Design: Augmented Reality and Neuroscience, [online], Available at: https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/2226488/Meta-Spatial-Interface-Augmented-
Reality-Design-Guidelines.pdf [Accessed: 20th November, 2019]
Eyal, N. (2014) Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products. London: Penguin
Gibson, J. (2014) The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception: Classic Edition. United States: Routledge
Pomazau, D. (2019) The Third Generation of Interfaces [blog], 30th November 2019.
Available at: https://www.interfaces3.com
[Accessed: November 15th 2019]