Human Centred Design focusses strongly on “meaning”. HCD has thus developed  proprietary ethnographic techniques for investigating meaning starting from the three core categories of function, ritual or myth.


  • the way something works or operates;
  • the natural purpose of something or the duty of a person.
Some things need doing, with or without aesthetic or semiotic content.


  • a series of actions or a type of behaviour which is regularly and invariably followed by someone;
  • a set of fixed actions and sometimes words performed consistently and regularly, especially as part of a ceremony or collectively.
Some actions are performed for their aesthetic and semiotic content. The motions and actions send messages.


  • a traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining a natural or social phenomenon;
  • an idealised, exaggerated or fictitious conception of a thing or person.
Some things are pure aesthetic or semiotic content. Motions or actions may not be necessary.