I'm looking for a word used in interaction design and probably in other fields as well.

It's used for the following purpose:

If a door has one handle which is a flat surface and another hanlde which is a bar then the bar has a ___ for being pulled, and the flat surface has a ___ for being pushed.

What is this word?

It would be used to describe that an object complies with its "desire" or not to be able to make the user experience as intuitive as possible.

  • Just to clarify, are you asking for one word that fits both places marked ***, or two different words?
    – J.R.
    Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 9:36
  • Is it actually wrong to refer to a desire of an inanimate object? It's quite commonplace to transpose human characteristics on objects that can't technically have them.
    – Urbycoz
    Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 9:56
  • @Urbycoz, I don't think it's wrong per se, but as there already exists a word for it which is used in that field (UX) it's better to use it. Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 10:41

4 Answers 4


The usual word for this in the computer trade is an affordance:-

A visual clue to the function of an object.

See also here.

  • I intend to use this word at the first opportunity - thanks.
    – Wudang
    Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 9:51
  • Hm. I don't doubt this is the "right" answer, but I wouldn't call it usual at all. It's extremely, extremely uncommon in my experience. I'm a programmer and I have never heard the term affordance until now. (For what it's worth, it also happens to be unrecognized by Firefox's spell checker.)
    – John Y
    Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 14:54
  • 1
    @JohnY It's definitely the "usual" term in the the usability field, but you're likely right that many people outside that field wouldn't find it so.
    – Henrik N
    Commented Aug 21, 2012 at 6:33

Disposition or susceptibility might be appropriate in a human context, but for door handles I’d suggest writing the sentence in a different way. For example,

If a door has one handle which is a flat surface and another handle which is a bar then, the bar will normally suggest pulling and the flat surface will normally suggest pushing.

Invite and prompt are possible alternatives to suggest.

  • Thank you for the human context, good to know. The rewrite is not what i was looking for, but the actual word (provided as an answer by Brian Hooper) Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 10:43
  • @Vixen: Yes, a good choice if you are writing for a specialist readership. Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 10:57
  • I actually prefer Barrie's given answer, even for a "specialist" readership. I mean, the readership that would see "affordance" and think that's a natural choice would be very specialized indeed. It's definitely not a common word outside of "interaction design" (as Vixen calls it), and if "interaction designers" want to interact with folks who aren't interaction designers, they'd be better served using something from Barrie's answer.
    – John Y
    Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 15:26
  • +1 for the layman answer. As much as I love esoteric words, invite or suggest will be more widely understood than affordance.
    – ghoppe
    Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 18:49

Other words that could be used here are proclivity and propensity.


natural or habitual inclination or tendency; propensity; predisposition: a proclivity to meticulousness.


a natural inclination or tendency: a propensity to drink too much.

  • 1
    good words, but not the ones I was looking for, seems like these are more appropriate for human desires or tendencies. Commented Aug 21, 2012 at 8:01

I'd use "penchant" (noun. a strong inclination, taste, or liking for something: a penchant for outdoor sports.) or "affinity" (noun 1. a natural liking for or attraction to a person, thing, idea, etc. 2. a person, thing, idea, etc., for which such a natural liking or attraction is felt.).

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