This is an archived version of the 2010 edition of UXLx. The current event website is at
12 to 14 May 2010
Lisbon, Portugal
Justin Davis
Since the late ‘90s, Justin has been exploring what it means to craft experiences online. He is currently the founder of Madera Labs, a user experience design consultancy based in Nashville, TN, working with clients from startups to large nonprofits. Justin has a passion for entrepreneurship and startups, and has had the (mis)fortune of designing, building and launching a web startup of his own. It failed. He learned.

Justin is a highly energetic and top-rated speaker and has an insatiable appetite for understanding how things work and why people behave the way they do.

Justin Davis


Make it Obvious: Affordance as a Design Tool

The real world makes things easy. We understand how to navigate interfaces naturally, due in large part to physical properties of objects. Shadows, textures and shape give us immediate clues as to how we should interact with different objects, providing a natural and obvious experience with most everyday things. Take, for example, a door handle – its design affords our reach and grasp, communicating to us that we need to grab and pull to use the object.

But what about the web? In a two-dimensional world, where everything is limited to pixels on a screen, what role do these affordances play in allowing users to understand how to navigate an interface? How does the design of a button, with its beveled edge and slight shadow, help users to understand and interact with interface elements with the same ease and subconscious thought that we interact with physical objects? Intentional design of these moments – where the virtual needs to accommodate our ingrained understanding of the physical world – can make or break an interface.

Even in the real, physical, world, affordances break down. A door handle appears to communicate “pull”, when the action needs to be pushing. A faucet knob appears to communicate “push”, when the action needs to be turning. Online, the opportunities for affordances to fail and miscommunicate are magnified by the removal of physical cues. In this venue, designers need to carefully construct these affordances from scratch, keeping psychology of the real world in mind at all times.

Simply put, affordances make life easier. By communicating the use of an object before the user interacts with it, affordances assure that people are able to navigate interfaces with ease. Bringing these concepts from the physical world into the virtual one is a critical step in building intuitive interfaces.

Thursday, 13 May @ 14:20-14:40
20 minutes
Auditorium II

Our Sponsors and Supporters

Platinum Sponsors:
Anacom - Autoridade Nacional de Comunicações
Gold Sponsors:
Flag Moo ActiveMedia - ScreenEMotion London User Research Centre Hello Group Corefactor
Silver Sponsors:
O'Reilly Rosenfeld Media Pearson Publishing Morgan Kaufmann - Elsevier Wiley Tobii Technology
Axure - See it happen Goplan Survs - Asking for you Usabilla - Transparent Usability SensoMotoric Instruments Balsamiq Studios invoic€xpress
Media Sponsors:
Want Magazine UX Booth Lucrat Fresh GUI

Partners and Supporters:
TAP Portugal VIP Hotels AHP - Applications and Hosting Provider Hospedeiras e Promotoras de Eventos SpringEventsMadeira Interactive Technologies Institute
Câmara Municipal de Lisboa Associação para a Promoção do Multimédia e da Sociedade Digital e-Skills Week
Log - Open Source Consulting Lisboa Convention Bureau Associação Portuguesa para o Desenvolvimento das Comunicações Cortes de Cima Nokia