Cognitive framing

A frame is a psychological device that presents a predetermined perspective or viewpoint to influence decision-making. People will give priority to avoiding a perceived loss above any gain.

Industrial designers can manipulate or bias the perception of a product or service through highlighting visual elements. The use of foreground background differentiation within perception and contrast to highlight the desired elements are just two ways in which this may be done.

This may also be achieved through emphasising the attributes of a product’s function or aligning the cultural coding (branding) with the aspirations of the viewer.

Barnes (2011) has highlighted what appears to be endemic discrimination within UK society towards those considered disabled. From the definition of ID given earlier, it is clear Industrial Designers have the skills and knowledge to help change attitudes and behaviours in relation to AT products, leading to a change in UK society’s perception of impairment and disability. The table highlights the issues raised by Barnes. The Barnes list has been matched with a list of ways in which ID practitioners may overcome these challenges to effect social change.

Demonstration of the change in perception from an AT product to an Inclusive/ Universal product through the manipulation of semantics and social values. (Torrens 2012)

Systemic and endemic discrimination

  • social discrimination (despite the Equality Act, 2010, UK)
  • Medical model and treatment reinforces segregation
  • Doctrine of human adaptability and fixed environment
  • Social model (late 20th Century – early 21st Century)
  • Innate social behaviour: weak/ill
  • Perception: disability = weakness – leading to social stigma

ID and inclusivity

  • Social integration
  • Change perceptions
  • Manipulate psycho-social perception through colour, form, texture and sound
  • Change behaviours
  • Manipulate response and behaviours using social doctrines semantics, social value and association
  • Education and awareness
  • Role models
  • Change environment
  • User centred focus

Example of challenges within AT product design barriers and pathways to solutions
(Torrens 2012)

Useful links

Barnes, C., 1995. Disability rights: rhetoric and reality in the UK. Disability & Society, 10, (1). pp. 111-116.

Torrens, G.E., 2012. Assistive Technology product to Universal design: A way forward, Design For All India, 7 (7), pp.182-205 Available at: (, Accessed: [23/09/2015]


A persona is a social representation of a character. Characters or personas in marketing and user experience UX design are used to represent a target market group. The characteristics of the individual presented through the persona are a grouping or consensus of social conventions often used by the target group. The individual persona’s lifestyle, requirements and aspirations for products and services are more easily demonstrated and more accessible to a new product development (NPD) team. The subtleties of social fashion and trends can be discussed within the NPD team. The alignment and prioritisation of a product design specification with the target market can be done though predicting the consumer choice the persona character may make in relation to the product or service.

The characteristics often found within a persona are:

  • Gender,
  • Age,
  • Physical characteristics (anthropometry/ scale, weight)
  • Health
  • Socio-ecconomic status,
  • Lifestyle (including employment, leisure), and,
  • Market research data is required, which may be obtained through literature review of National statistics surveys, Government census, market reports, and monitoring social media.

Primary source data may be obtained through, interview, observation, focus groups and empathic modelling.

A character may be defined that has a consensus or collection of characteristics that are frequently observed within the target market population.

The character may be represented through:

  • A written description,
  • A visualisation of the persona character,
  • A series of storyboards describing the character and lifestyle,
  • Role paly (an actor responding as the persona character), and
  • Computer simulation.
  • A persona is useful when a team of professionals are undertaking an NPD, as it provides a focus for discussion and debate.

A persona is best used near the beginning of a more detailed review of the target market’s requirements and aspirations for a product.

Persona’s do not replace confirmation of a product design specification with end users. Validation with end users is a critical to ensuring your product is matched appropriately to your market

Useful links

Cohen, L. Mannion, L., Morrison K. 2007. Research methods in education. 6th ed. London, New York: Routledge.

Langford, J., McDonagh, D., 2003. Focus groups supporting effective product development. Taylor & Francis, London.

Lidwell, W., Holden, K., Butler, J., 2003. Universal principles of design: 100 ways to enhance usability, influence perception, increase appeal, make better design decisions, and teach through design, Rockport, Gloucester.

Morgan, D.L., 1997, Focus groups as qualitative research, second edition, qualitative research methods series 16, Sage, London

Martin, B., Hanington, B., 2012. Universal methods of design: 100 ways to research complex problems, develop innovative ideas, and design effective solutions, Rockport, Beverly.

Pruitt, J., Adlin T., 2006. The persona lifecycle: keeping people in mind throughout product design, Elsevier, San Francisco.

Survey and Questionnaire

Surveys are used to gain and evaluate information from a larger population. They are often used for population surveys, linked with questionnaires. Surveys are often completed anonymously, but may include a request for personal identification. 

Surveys can provide both quantitative (numbers of choices, for example) and qualitative information (opinions, for example) for analysis and evaluation.

A questionnaire is a set of questions being asked of a participant to provide evidence for analysis and evaluation within a survey. Questionnaires are conventionally completed by one person at a time, to avoid forms of bias, but sent to multiple people at the same time. This is to capture as many responses as possible within the duration of a study.

Surveys formats include:

  • Face to face survey of set questions (no deviation or discussion)
  • Telephone survey (operator or automated)
  • Mailshot survey (completed by hand)
  • Online survey (completed via computer on the internet)

Types of questions that can be asked include:

  • Dichotomous, where the respondent has two options
  • Nominal-polytomous, where the respondent has more than two unordered options
  • Ordinal-polytomous, where the respondent has more than two ordered options
  • (Bounded)Continuous, where the respondent is presented with a continuous scale

Questionnaires with questions that measure separate variables could for instance include questions on:

  • preferences (e.g. political party)
  • behaviours (e.g. food consumption)
  • facts (e.g. gender)

Questionnaires are aggregated into either a scale or index questions that include, for instance, questions that measure:

  • latent traits (e.g. personality traits such as extroversion)
  • attitudes (e.g. towards immigration)
  • an index (e.g. Social Economic Status)

An example of a survey structure includes:

“Thank you for taking part. Introductory explanation of why the survey is being carried out and what will be done with the information, estimated time to complete; and, contact information if there are more enquiries about the survey or a complaint.

A consent ‘tick box’ (online) or signature, if not completed anonymously

Information about the participant

Questions related to the ‘research question’ to be answered

Cross referenced questions

Completion and ‘Thank you’ page including, further participation.”

Consider enabling the participant to have a copy of the survey they have completed and a contact where they can get access to the completed survey results when published.

When developing your survey consider:

  • Use Terminology and langue appropriate to your target population
  • Use statements that allow for different terminology in the answer
  • Specific, closed followed by an open question.
  • Use only one aspect of the construct you are interested in per item.
  • Use positive statements and avoid negatives or double negatives.
  • Do not make assumptions about the respondent.
  • Use correct spelling, grammar and punctuation.
  • Avoid items that contain more than one question per item (e.g. Do you like Apples and Pears?)

Additional data collection methods or techniques that may be used in conjunction with surveys include:

  • Product or cultural probes
  • Interview
  • Likert scales
  • Paired comparisons
  • Ranking
  • Online surveys

Viewed with suspicion (payment to be involved a likely scam)

Paid involvement or incentives may also be a scam and introduces Bias.

Useful links

Bristol online surveys (mainly academic use)

Surveymonkey (limited number of uses)

Google analytics

Cohen, L., L.Mannion, and K.Morrison 2007. Research methods in education. 6th ed. London, New York: Routledge.

Torrens, GE (2011) Universal Design: empathy and affinity. In Karwowski, W, Soares, M, M, Stanton, A, N, Eds, (ed) Handbook of Human Factors and Ergonomics in Consumer Products, CRC Press, pp.233-248 Available at: (, Accessed: [7/11/2015]

Wilson, J. R., and E. N. Corlett. 1995. Evaluation of human work: A practical ergonomics methodology. 2nd ed. London: Taylor & Francis.