Lens: Type: Behavior

Stimuli in a context that can be perceived with the senses.

Photo: maupmascaro
people dancing at a concert

The amount and kinds of sensory stimuli in a context can dramatically affect an experience design scene. Sounds, smells, and sights can sometimes be so intense that they demand peoples’ attention. The machines in a casino or an arcade create a din of sound that can facilitate thoughts of “winning” because people know these sounds from the times they have played such games. In theme parks, hotels, and some restaurants, background music, and sound effects are played to create a sense of time and place. The lack of sensory stimuli can have the same effect. For example, the still, quiet in a sensory deprivation tank “float” can cause people to lose track of time and fix their thoughts on ideas that are often obscured by the business of their daily lives

Sensory Examples

LED Billboards: When driving in a big city, LED billboards compete with directional signs to get a driver’s attention.

Researching Sensory

When designers research sensory stimuli in a setting, they document the sounds, smells, and other sensory content that are beyond their control in a context. Designers who understand these sensory stimuli can create outcomes that can function in these environments and in some cases, reduce the sensory stimuli themselves so people can effectively complete activities.

Questions to Ask About Sensory

  • What sounds, smells, or other sensory stimuli are prevalent in this setting?
  • In what ways to these stimuli affect a person’s experience?
  • What is emitting these sensory stimuli?

Look for These When Researching Sensory

  • Noise levels
  • Light levels
  • Smells


References and sources that support the inclusion of this Aspects of Experiences for Design component.


Younger, D. (2016). Theme Park Design & The Art of Themed Entertainment. David Younger.