Alastair Somerville’s 3 Tips on Sensory Design | @Acuity_Design

  1. Senses. Smells, sights, tastes, textures and sounds: what people love and what people hate in sensory experiences are a mixture of both conscious thought in the moment and subconscious memories from the past. It is possible the two are in conflict yet a person cannot easily describe that to you. Test with empathy and use observation and chat carefully.

  2. Emotion is in the moment of perception and sensing. Emotion helps focus meaning making for the user so they can make decisions and act faster. However, emotion also constricts cognition. What seems the obvious action to take in a design may not be obvious to the user in the moment of sensing and emotion. Build and test with feeling.

  3. Transcendental Experience Design. Talking about awe and wonder are ways of exploring the diversity of sensory capacities of people. Transcendental user experience is one way in which Neurodiversity and Cognitive Accessibility are being framed in design. How we can apply research in making products and services that go way beyond…

Alastair Somerville


Alastair Somerville is a sensory design consultant in the UK. He works with organisations on multisensory and accessible design projects and facilitates personal development workshops on new forms of person-centred and sensory design for design professionals. He is running a brand new usability practice workshop at Interaction17 in New York on 2/5/17. More information: