The Dummies Guide to 6 Big Ideas

The six big ideas make improvements through multi-sensory design and explore the concept of atmosphere.



  1. Essentially things that design allows, it affords you to do something with the object
  2. It’s like a verb – a doing word
  3. It’s not a property, it’s a relationshipFor example, the handle of a mug:


  1. It indicates the affordance, it tells you that something is possible
  2. It could be tactile – In theory it could be tasted or smelt
  3. It translates as the knowledge in your head and knowledge of the world
  4. A signifier comes in to play if an affordance cannot be perceivedFor example, an exit sign above a door:


  1. A mapping system that relates controls of an object to its functions
  2. It’s a relationship between two sets of things
  3. When designing an object it is thought of in terms of practicality, how are the controls be positioned to be most effective for the user?For example, a playstation controller:


  1. Feedback is a response to the action
  2. It lets you know if you’ve done something right or wrong
  3. Generally includes information that aids in understanding what has happened in relation to the object/experience
  4. Can be displayed in the format of a questionnaire or survey


  1. The limitations of something, that makes it impossible to carry out an action with that object/in the experience
  2. A design will be made to create a restraint to prevent the user from doing something
  3. Constraints are divided in to four different sections:
    a. Physical constraints are constraints that will prevent certain actions from occurring, for example a lock and key
    b. Cultural constraints are limits on what is an acceptable way of acting in a certain society or situation. It might draw on cultural conventions which are common in your society, such as eating with your hands – it is very common in countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and India, however can be looked down upon in the UK.
    c. Semantic constraints depict meaning in objects however they may change according to the present or past time, situation and culture of a person and require a lot of awareness of the surroundings.
    d. Logical constraints occur when something is rationally invalid/illogicalFor example, a light switch and a thermostat have different controls over heat and light, one cannot control the other:

Conceptual Model

  1. Understanding as user – an action may or may not be correctly used but it could still work for the user
  2. An example of a conceptual model can be a visual metaphor such as a folder icon on a desktop, it doesn’t relate conceptually with a computer as there’s no folder actually physically in the computer but it is used as a familiar function
  3. The question “how will the user know how it works?” must be thought when thinking of conceptual modelFor example, a rubber band can be used to hold together paper, it is not meant to tie hair with (because quite frankly it hurts tremendously trying to take it out) but it can be used for sed function:

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