Digital Affordance and Navigation Considerations

What is digital affordance?

Digital affordance ‘is a readily perceivable interaction possibility. It occurs when an object, whether physical or digital, has sensory characteristics that intuitively implies its functionality and use’ (Coyle, 2015). In the digital world, digital affordance will often be cues to functions which we are able to relate to the physical world such as the ‘add to cart’ button on online shopping websites having a shopping cart symbol and the recycle bin having a bin symbol – these are often cues which we can easily recognise and understand how to interact with them using our intuition. 

Within an immersive environment, however, it may not always be quite as clear that a specific object is interactive and the user may even miss out on important aspects of their experience because they might not notice something, therefore, within immersive environments the cues may often need to be more obvious. Some examples of cues that could be used within immersive environments could be through lighting – this might be things such as spotlights shining on objects of interest or objects glowing/becoming highlighted. Another style of cue may be through the use of audio, particularly binaural audio to capture the users attention – an example being a phone that needs interacting with on the left side of the room may have a ringing phone sound effect that it projected through only the left earphone to lure the user to that correct part of the experience that should be explored but it might not be so obvious otherwise. 

My digital affordance considerations

As my production piece is going to be immersive but not interactive, I will need to find ways to catch the users attention when any important things are going to happen. As mentioned above, I will also be using lighting and audio cues for this. 

A small storyboard outlining the three scenes in my piece

First, the experience starts outside the house in a street, the majority of the street will be fairly dark, but then I will ensure the doorway to the house is lit up through a well positioned lighting, there will also be pumpkins around the doorway which will have light sources inside them, this will hopefully help the user to face in the right direction ready to start their experience. Next there will be a knocking sound ready for the door to open. 

Once the user is inside the first room of the house, they will have the opportunity to take in their environment and the halloween decorations will make noises and appear around the room. Then, the ‘drink me’ bottle will appear along with a sound effect for this and it will seem as if the user is drinking something. 

Next, there will be a creaky door sound and they will make their way through to the next room. Here, the room will be completely dark but pumpkins will be placed surrounding the user and their carved faces will light up so the user will know to focus on them. Again, I will also be adding in sound effects here to make sure the user notices the pumpkins. Finally, the user will ‘fall’ through a void into the new world that they have been transported into.

Navigation considerations

I am also going to need to strongly consider the ways the user will navigate around my environment as I don’t want the user to feel disorientated. Again, as this is only going to be an immersive video, there are limitations as the user isn’t going to be able to physically move theirselves through my world, but I will need to make sure it seems like they are. 

For my scenes, the user will actually be stood still but will be able to look around the room so I don’t need to worry too much about the movement. However, I will be considering the navigation aspects more when the user is being transported to the various rooms through the doors. I will be using the teleportation locomotion method for my production piece by applying fade to black transitions to make it seem that the user is travelling into another room. I feel this will work the best within my piece as teleportation locomotion is less likely to give motion sickness which is a very important aspect within VR as this could potentially ruin someones experience.

References:

Coyle, A (2015) The evolution of digital affordances. Available online: https://uxdesign.cc/affordances-ad4fff2ff6c8 [Accessed 14/11/21].

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