A new takeaway for SensoryUX workshops

Alastair Somerville
4 min readJun 19, 2022


In-person workshops are back in 2022 and I have re-started SensoryUX workshops for conferences. Obviously, there are changes to the content after a few years of being stuck at home reading research and doing projects. In terms of workshop design, the main change is breaking it into three parts: design for prediction, perception and passion. That enables discussion of human centered design for imagination, senses and emotions.

People often ask what the ‘takeaways’ are for a workshop. The SensoryUX takeaways are tricky: the workshop is experiential. Helping people recognise and respect their own imagination, senses and emotions is the central purpose. My viewpoint is that once they can recognise the issues as reflected in their own sense of self, it is easier to talk about design for more people with differing senses of self. So the key takeaway was never really a tool or a process but a shifted perspective.

However, that sense of ‘real’ takeaways remains so I have made this new concertina-style booklet for the workshop. It is a physical artefact. It is something that can literally be taken away. It is a gift. It is a simple summary of the themes of the workshop and some advice for what to do. This booklet was first used at a workshop for Webexpo in Prague and re-edited version will be used next at UXLondon.


Prediction is the largest part of the workshop to be re-designed. Just too much has happened in the ideas of how humans imagine and predict their actions and interactions. I always had some elements on this but needed to be much more clear that a) it is important and b) design can help.

My views on this have been affected by several accessible wayfinding projects where we have tried to put information into the user journey much earlier than previously.

This is the idea of Before UX: building confidence by raising anticipation and lowering anxiety thru design.


Perception pages show issues of offering certainty when senses are shaky

Senses and perception were where the SensoryUX workshops started in 2014 and they remain at the heart of the workshop. The interaction design and the possibilities of multimodal and extended sensory design.

How coordination and certainty work in this area has always been important. Some of the new metacognition research has changed my viewpoint on framing and issues of over/under certainty.

The End(?)

I have always used models to help people hang new ideas onto. I am wary of them tho. Particularly because they create a rather simplistic idea that design can just choose a moment to intervene. This is a system thinking ideal applied to human centered design. It is wrong to use it.

So the false ending of the booklet is deliberate. The model of Prediction/Perception is not enough. This is talked about in the workshop so the page is an aide memoire rather than a revelation.


The ‘hidden’ centre of the booklet is about Passion. About Emotions and what they do before, during and after the interaction.

I added content about emotional design in 2018 and have been re-working it over time. Prof. Lisa Barrett Feldman’s books, like How Emotions Are Made and Seven And A Half Stories About The Brain, have been crucial to this.


The next SensoryUX workshop is at UXLondon on 30th June. Do come along if you can.

I will also being giving a way a new book on Neuroscience called Two Heads by the famous Frith family of psychologists and neuroscientists. It is a great graphic novel.



Alastair Somerville

Sensory Design Consultant, usability researcher and workshop facilitator. www.linkedin.com/in/alastair-somerville-b48b368 Twitter @acuity_design & @visceralUX