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Response to [Signifiers, not affordances] by Norman

  1. What is a signifier?
    A signifier is an entity (person, object, etc.) that provides information to a person’s situation.
    (“I call any physically perceivable cue a signifier”) 
  2. What is a social signifier?
    A signifier is a social signifier if it is “either created or interpreted by people or society, signifying social activity or appropriate social behavior.”
  3. What is the difference between affordance and signifier?
    * Affordance suggests the possible activities and relationship between a person and a object (“the actions possible by a specific agent on a specific environment”) – affordance is inherent and it simply exists;
    * Signifier, depending on how people interpret it in their situations, releases information relevant to those situations.
  4. How is a signifier important to design?
    It is not enough for designs to realize a definite set of functions, or to define a system of conventions. Instead, designs should disclose (or avoid hiding) signifiers, or even deliberately develop signifiers. Of course, the question is how these signifiers can come into play with existing conventions, and further how do we validate their usefulness.
    (“Designers need to provide these clues. Forget affordances: What people need and what design must provide are signifiers”) 

About Xiang 'Anthony' Chen

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