Working in sensory design and inclusive design, it is important to map and record how people perceive products and services.
I use, in work and workshops, sets of sticky notes and stickers to help people think about all their senses and the capacities of their target users.
I have made some stickers for sale which use the symbols I use (some of which I purchased from the very useful Noun Project).
This blog is about what the 9 symbols in the extended set mean to me and how they could be used by you.
They’re on sale on Etsy now with 12 stickers in a pack.
5 senses and an embodied being
The first page of stickers cover the core humans senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch.
In general, there is an bias to visual design in both physical and digital design currently so pushing people to remember to think about other capacities matters.
In addition, it is helpful to remind people of the opposite – the impairments that bad design can fail to recognise. The disabilities created by inaccessible products and services.
The final sticker on this page is simply a human body in a yoga pose.
I use this to discuss both issues of physicality and ergonomics in product design and also, metaphorically, issues of balance in human centred design. The need to create usable products in raw terms of human physical capacity and also the larger issues of the product, the person and their relationship.
Proprioception, speech and cognition
The second set of stickers includes 2 repeat stickers (as sight and hearing are very important senses) and 3 new symbols.
The hand, for me, is generally about proprioception (the sense of knowing where your body is relative to itself).
In my work on haptic and touch displays, this has been very important. People tracking user interface elements on a display are thru their own sense of where things are relative to their physical body. Often interactions are thought to be visually controlled (user looking at screen) when, in fact, it is proprioception on action.
The hand is also useful when discussing product design for older adults and some groups of disabled people. The hand can represent:
All of these are extremely important in Inclusive Design.
The mouth is becoming more important as Voice User Interfaces become more widespread.
This affects both the user’s ability to speak (clarity of speech and capacity to speak at all) and the system ability to speak in meaningful terms (verbosity and vocabulary content design issues).
In global products, there are additional layers of speaking the right language and the right dialect too.
There are two brain symbols as it can cover a wide range of design issues now.
For me, there has been a huge growth in the area of design for Cognitive Accessibility.
This is design for users like people with dementia and autistic people. Groups of people who perceive places and information in diverse ways (though the idea of a norm or Neurotypical viewpoint is founded on a huge bias).
Perception and cognition underlie much of future service and product design. There are contradictions in the individual needs of users, both between people in groups and even within individuals themselves at different times and in different places.
The brain symbol can also be used to discuss mental illness (which is different from cognitive impairment) and physical brain injuries.
Symbols for anyone to use
This post covers what is included in the extended Sensory User Experience Sticker set on Etsy and what they mostly mean to me.
But that is only my practice.
They can mean what you need them to mean.
They can be used in co-creation and usability research to mean what participants want them to mean.
Use them to explore new meanings and discover new needs and prototype new products and services.
Buy some and let me know how you use them.