What is natural mapping in interaction design
Is when the layout of controls match have one would expect them. Such as a stove top has 4 burners and 4 dials. When the dials are laid out in the same pattern as the burners. The dials match what one would expect. When you turn the top left dial it operates the far left burner. For a car the turn signal for turning right moves up which a 90 degree rotation of moving right and the same is true for turning left. This matches how we would use it. If you pushed it forward to go right and pulled back to go left that would make very little sense.
“If a design depends upon labels, it may be faulty. Labels are important and often necessary, but the appropriate use of natural mappings can minimize the need for them. Wherever labels seem necessary, consider another design.” -Don Norman, http://www.jnd.org/books/design-of-everyday-things-revised.html
A way to know natural mapping is working is when it does not rely on labels. The objected is interacted with in the way expected. This is often assisted by images or visual labels. A design is successful for interaction when it requires no labels or instructions. This can be very hard to do especially with complex things of software. An other advantage of natural mapping is eliminating translation for different languages as it relies more on position matching how it works than arbitrary location and labels.