CTS Stages of Action

Every action someone makes takes place during a period of time. Performing simple actions such as drinking from a cup or bottle involves someone having to know how to pick it up, how gravity affects the liquid etc.

The Gulf of Execution – How do things work?

When learning ¬†a new action you begin to wonder “How can this work? What can I do?” and more.

Signifiers, Constraints, Mappings and Conceptual Models can be used to teach this.

The Gulf of Evaluation – What happened?

Once an action is performed you evaluate what happened and whether you achieved the desired affect.

Feedback and Conceptual Models can be used for this.

For example a child might not know how to use a light switch but over time they see other people performing the action and realize that pressing a button on a wall turns on a light somewhere. The reason why Conceptual Model is listed above twice is that you can see someone perform an action, like flicking a switch, but until you have performed the action yourself you might not know what the end result is. For instance I have a trio of light switches downstairs that turn on a porch light, hall light and landing lights. I’ve lived here for 24 years and I still get them mixed up every day.

Step 1 – Goal

What do I want to do?

Step 2 – Plan

How will I do this?

Step 3 – Specify

Decide on course of action

Step 4 – Perform

Perform action(s)

Step 5 РPerceive 

See what changes have occurred

Step 6 – Interpret

Understand changes compared to prior to action

Step 7 – Compare

Have i achieved my original goal

There are 3 levels of processing information. These could be called;


Fast/Basic/Subconscious/Reflexes/Immediate Feeling




Slow/Conscious/Judgments/Decision Making

Designers tend to concern themselves with the reflective process as it is where people form opinions about things and you want them to think positively when reflecting on the stimulus.

Root Cause Analysis

Asking “Why?” until you find a root to a cause, for example “Why is a child being annoying?” and you can use this to try and work out the design process and thought behind something.


In The Head – Knowledge in the head is knowing what you know/memory: for example I lost my glasses case, then i remember where i left it.

In The World – Knowledge int he world is shown through signs, like a zebra crossing sign or “No pets allowed” etc.

These can be interchangeable as for example when learning to type you learn the keys and eventually over time you can touch type and not have to look down at the keyboard at all.

CTS Six Big Ideas


The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman

Discover-ability: Is about the process of discovering an object/thing and working out its properties.

Understanding: After discovering something you need to understand how it works and how the phenomena can be understood.

The Six Big Things;

Affordances: Affordances are not things, or a thing in an object. It is something that appears when an object comes into a relationship with a person. So you could roughly say it is what the user gets out of it. For example a bottle has the possibility to contain water but it also has the affordance of letting you hold the bottle. An Anti Affordance is something you can’t do with an object.

Signifiers: Signifiers are things that helps us in a certain way. It is something that points at an affordance (see above), while signifies can communicate where the action should take place, so one cannot really exist without the other. It tells you what you can and can’t do with an object. For example it could be like on a packet of microwaveable rice and it says “Tear here” to show where you tear it to open it.

Mapping: It is to do with the position and placement of signifiers, and in the way that the controls relate to the things they control. For example the dials to control hotplates on a hob. Good mapping is the most effective way to show that the controls relate to the thing they are controlling, so related controls should be grouped together etc.

Feedback: It tells you if what you have done is correct or incorrect and does not need to be positive. For instance trial and error is valid, if somewhat unsatisfying, feedback. An example could be the tactile feedback on keyboards, especially mechanical keyboards, and letting you know if you’ve tapped the key with enough force for the keyboard to pick it up. Also on Windows if you do something the system that it can’t do you get a “ping” noise alert and some sort of pop up window. Too much feedback can be overwhelming, which in video-games is a common complaint leveled at some of the Assassin’s Creed games where the UI is cluttered and you begin to have no idea what half of it means.

Constraints: Constraints are things that prevent you from doing things. Constraints can be physical, semantic, cultural or logical. For example Nuclear Weapons might require two people to be physically able to turn a key and press a button to ensure no single person could do it by themselves. Also at a concert there will be security to protect the celebrity from crazy people. Something being nonsensical would be a semantic constraint while doing something that was highly illogical would be an logical constraint. For instance “I put the milk on the cereal then go to the supermarket and buy the milk” would be a logical constraint.

Conceptual Models: The mental image of how something works, a simplified and easy to explain version of something. It can be useful but you must be careful as it can be quite easy to confuse the prospective user so it is best to have broad strokes conceptual models that get the “Big ideas” across.



CTS Experience Centred Design Week 1

i.hague@lcc.arts.ac.uk (Tutor contact email)

Subject – Introductions

Introducing Experiences

Non Visual Experiences

Historically the classical 5 senses have been divided but this is not true as one tends to inform another. For instance sound tends to be a distance sense as you tend to hear something that’s not necessarily close to you, but smell tends to be something closer and you smell the particles of food or something else so it could be said its a physical one.

However you could smell something that is some distance away so it becomes quite tricky to give it a definition so I suppose you could say it is situational.

Constance Cassen – The Witches Senses: an essay on how the senses have historically been politicized and gendered.

Six Big Ideas, Stage of Action

In Week 4 we will have a Guest Lecture from Silvia Grimaldi

Week 5 will be a Museum visit

Week 6 will be a Walking Tour around the area surrounding the university

Design Thinking is something else we will discuss and learn about

Week 8 will be Authorship and Storytelling

Week 9 will involve 1 to 1 Individual Tutorials

Week 10 will be submission of assessments

I learnt quite a few new words when we talked about the concept of having 33 senses, even if a few of them feel as if they cross over with one another. We got split into groups and had to come up with concepts for an exhibition exhibit that focused on senses but could not use Oculus/Sight. My group wanted to use Touch and the idea of hot/cold while you were blind and could not see. Our idea was that you would enter a rom, blindfolded and with noise-cancelling headphones on and would have to find your way to the exit based on objects and surfaces you could touch.

Whether they were hot or cold would be decided but it could be an easy concept to understand as lots of people are familiar with the idea of “Am I getting warmer?” or “Hot! Cold!” when trying to find something, so it seemed simple and quite easy to understand/universal.