The Scent of Information

“The scent” usually provides some clues as to scaling, scoping, or organization – often expressed through a design ‘affordance’.

Affordances are clues about how an object should be used, typically provided by the object itself or its context; hints about what lies ahead.


… is one of the most rudimentary forms; It tells you how the site info is organized. Hovering over a menuItem often reveals organizational info in depth.


… is a fairly conventional (Olde Schoole) example. It pops up a textual explanation.


… info lets you know how much information lies ahead. (i.e. ‘256 items’ or ‘This is a 4-minute read’ or ‘10-step process’). It’s often presented on-screen as a number, but it also might be a visual like a progress bar.



… gives you a sense of what types of info are available (as well as proportionally howMany).


Map it

The annotated wireframe is where you identify (or actively model) the affordances in the interface.

I’m sure that there are many more examples for your affordance checklist. In my opinion, virtually any good usability design Technique contributes to ‘the scent of information.”

The point of usability design is ‘self service’.



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