Team reviews paperwork on table and makes notes

Visual Affordance Testing

A Visual Affordance test is an adaptable rapid-fire user test that requires only paper printouts and highlighters to conduct. The term “visual affordance” refers to how the appearance of an object indicates whether or not it can be interacted with or manipulated, and how. According to Don Norman, author of The Design of Everyday Things, a design has failed when simple things needs lots of labels and instructions. So you want to perform a Visual Affordance Test to make sure calls to action are recognized by users as such, and see if any page elements are misleading. Anything causing friction can then be removed or edited, thus preventing customer frustration.

Category:
Description

Schedule Time & Gather Materials

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Schedule Time:

  • Per Test: 5 minutes or less
  • Number of Tests: 10 – 20
Gather Materials

Gather Materials:

  • Printouts of the page to be tested
  • Yellow highlighters

Carry Out This Method

User takes notes and highlights important information
  1. Print out the page you want to test for visual affordance.
  2. Give each test participant a printout and a highlighter.
  3. Ask participants to highlight objects that are clickable.
  4. Collect results and look for patterns. If any interactive elements are rarely highlighted, or if any non-interactive elements appear interactive to most participants, make note of that.

Try These Tips

  • Lab tests can begin with a Blink Test, then a Visual Affordance Test, and then an Expectation Test before you begin a scenario-based Think-Aloud Test.
  • You can perform the test with an online version of your design, but have them point at the screen with their finger to respond. Do not allow users control of the mouse, since hover states and pointers may reveal interactivity.
  • These tests are quick, and therefore work well as Guerrilla Usability Tests.
  • Time permitting, follow up by asking users what they expect would happen if they were to click on the elements they marked as interactive.

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