In Celebration of the Pop Socket

As long as there have been phones, there have been ways to customize and personalize them. Lanyards, stickers, phone cases, and so on. Now there is a new addition to the long list of phone gear – the “Pop Socket”.

I’m usually skeptical of phone accessories.  I mean, nobody ever benefited from a flip case unless of course you think that it’s cool to flip open a case every time you want to take an incoming phone call!

The Pop Socket though is different.  It is a great example of how “affordances” can be used to augment the user experience.

Affordances is a word we use a lot in Design Research.  The Interaction Design Foundation explains the concept well:  “Affordances are an object’s properties that show the possible actions users can take with it, thereby suggesting how they may interact with that object.”

We learn about the difference between adding an affordance and making an existing affordance clearer to the user. For example, adding text that says “click here” to a previously un-labeled button is making an affordance clearer.  The button already afforded clicking.

The Pop Socket is an affordance that actually augments the experience:

  • First, making the phone easier to hold which is particularly good for larger phones
  • Second, allowing the user to prop the phone up on the table for easy viewing and;
  • Third, adding a layer of customization with colorful decals or unique patterns.

So here’s to the Pop Socket.  An accessory that adds value.

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