This compilation is intended as an active toolkit to support your design thinking practice. The guide is not Just to read – go out in the world and try these tools yourself. In the following pages, we outline each mode of a handcrafted design process, and then describe dozens of specific methods to do design work. These process modes and methods provide a tangible toolkit which support the seven mindsets -? shown on the following page – that are vital attitudes for a design thinker to hold.
The bootleg is a working document, which captures some of the teaching we impart in “design thinking Bootlace,” our foundation course. An update from the 2009 edition, we reworked many of the methods based on what we learned from teaching and added a number of new methods to the mix. The methods presented in this guide are culled from a wide range of people and organizations who have helped us build the content we use to Impart design thinking. Think of this guide as a creation of the work of many individuals, who hail both from the d. School and also from other far-reaching areas of the design world. We thank all the people who have contributed to the methods collected in this guide. This resource Is free for you to use and share – and we hope you do. We only ask that you respect the Creative Commons license (attribution, noncommercial use). The work is licensed under the Creative Commons AttributlonNonCommerclal-Shareable 3. 0 unproved License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creationism’s. Org/licenses/by- NC-as/3. O/ We welcome your reactions to this guide.
Please share the stories of how you use It In the field. Let us know what you find useful. And what methods you have rated yourself – write to: [email protected] Stanford. Due Cheers, The d. School Show Don’t Tell Communicate your vision in an impact and meaningful way by creating experiences, using illustrative visuals, and telling good stories. Focus on Human Values Empathy for the people you are designing for and feedback from these users is fundamental to good design. Craft Clarity Produce a coherent vision out of messy problems.
Frame It In a way to Inspire others and to fuel ideation. Embrace Experimentation Prototyping is not simply a way to validate your idea; it is an integral part of your innovation process. We build to think and learn. Know where you are in the design process, what methods to use in that stage, and what your goals are. Bias Toward Action Design thinking is a misnomer; it is more about doing that thinking. Bias toward doing and making over thinking and meeting. Radical Collaboration Bring together innovators with varied backgrounds and viewpoints.
Enable breakthrough insights and solutions to emerge from the diversity. D. Mindsets MODE Empathic Empathy is the foundation of a human-centered design process. To empathic, we: – Observe. View users and their behavior in the context of their lives. – Engage. Interact tit and interview users through both scheduled and short ‘intercept’ encounters. – Immerse. Experience what your user experiences. As a human-centered designer you need to understand the people for whom you are designing.
The problems you are trying to solve are rarely your own-?they are those of particular users; in order to design for your users, you must build empathy for who they are and what is important to them. Watching what people do and how they interact with their environment gives you clues about what they think and feel. It also helps you to learn about what they need. By watching people you can capture hysterical manifestations of their experiences, what they do and say. This will allow you to interpret intangible meaning of those experiences in order to uncover insights.
These insights will lead you to the innovative solutions. The best solutions come out of the best insights into human behavior. But learning to recognize those insights is harder than you might think. Why? Because our minds automatically filter out a lot of information in ways we aren’t even aware of. We need to learn to see things “with a fresh set of eyes” – tools for empathy, along with a human-centered mindset, is what gives us those new eyes. Engaging with people directly reveals a tremendous amount about the way they think and the values they hold.
Sometimes these thoughts and values are not obvious to the people who hold them. A deep engagement can surprise both the designer and the designed by the unanticipated insights that are revealed. The stories that people tell and the things that people say they do-?even if they are different from what they actually do-?are strong indicators of their deeply held beliefs about the way the world is. Good designs are built on a solid understanding of these kinds of beliefs and values. Engage to: Uncover needs
Identify the right users to design for ;l Discover the emotions that guide behaviors In addition to speaking with and observing your users, you need to have personal experience in the design space yourself. Find (or create if necessary) experiences to immerse yourself to better understand the situation that your users are in, and for which you are designing. :: 1 : Define The define mode is when you unpack and synthesize your empathy findings into compelling needs and insights, and scope a specific and meaningful challenge.
It is a mode of “focus” rather than “flaring. ” Two goals of the define mode are to develop a pep understanding of your users and the design space and, based on that understanding, to come up with an actionable problem statement: your point of view. Your point of view should be a guiding statement that focuses on specific users, and insights and needs that you uncovered during the empathic mode. More than simply defining the problem to work on, your point of view is your unique design vision that you crafted based on your discoveries during your empathy work.
Understanding the meaningful challenge to address and the insights that you can leverage in your design work is fundamental to creating a successful solution. The define mode is critical to the design process because it explicitly expresses the problem you are striving to address through your efforts. In order to be truly generative, you must first craft a specific and compelling problem statement to use as a solution-generation springboard.
As a test, a good point of view (POP) is one that: ;l Provides focus and frames the problem Inspires your team Provides a reference for evaluating competing ideas Empowers your team to make decisions independently in parallel Fuels brainstorms by suggesting “how might we” statements Captures the hearts and minds of people you meet Saves you from he impossible task of developing concepts that are all things to all people ;l Is something you revisit and reformulate as you learn by doing ;l Guides your innovation efforts Ideate Ideate is the mode during your design process in which you focus on idea generation.
Mentally it represents a process of “going wide” in terms of concepts and outcomes-?it is a mode of “flaring” rather than “focus. ” The goal of ideation is to explore a wide solution space – both a large quantity of ideas and a diversity among users. You ideate in order to transition from identifying problems into exploring solutions for your users.
Various forms of ideation are leveraged to: ;l Step beyond obvious solutions and thus increase the innovation potential of your solution set Harness the collective perspectives and strengths of your teams Uncover unexpected areas of exploration Create fluency (volume) and flexibility (variety) in your innovation options Get obvious solutions out of your heads, and drive your team beyond them Regardless of what ideation method you use, the fundamental principle of ideation is to be cognizant of when you and your team are generating ideas and when you are evaluating ideas – and mix the two only intentionally.
Prototype Prototyping is getting ideas and explorations out of your head and into the physical world. A prototype can be anything that takes a physical form – be it a wall of post-it notes, a role-playing activity, a space, an object, an interface, or even a storyboard. The resolution of your prototype should be commensurate with your progress in your project. In early explorations keep your prototypes rough and rapid to allow yourself to learn quickly and investigate a lot of different possibilities. Prototypes are most successful when people (the design team, the user, and others) can experience and interact with them.
What you learn from those interactions can help drive deeper empathy, as well as shape successful solutions. Traditionally prototyping is thought of as a way to test functionality. But prototyping is used for many reasons, including these (non-mutually-exclusive) categories: ;l Empathy gaining: Prototyping is a tool to deepen your understanding of the design space and your user, even at a pre-solution phase of your project. Exploration: Build to think. Develop multiple solution options. ;l Testing: Create prototypes (and develop the context) to test and refine solutions with users. l Inspiration: Inspire others (teammates, clients, customers, investors) by showing your vision. Many of the goals of prototyping are shared across all four of the above categories. We prototype to: Learn. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a prototype is worth a thousand pictures. Solve disagreements. Prototyping is a powerful tool that can eliminate ambiguity, assist in ideation, and reduce miscommunication. Start a conversation. A prototype can be a great way to have a different kind of conversation with users. Fail quickly and cheaply.
Creating quick and dirty prototypes allows you to test a number f ideas without investing a lot of time and money up front. Manage the solution- building process. Identifying a variable to explore encourages you to break a large problem down into smaller, testable chunks. Test Testing is the chance to refine our solutions and make them better. The test mode is another iterative mode in which we place our low-resolution artifacts in the appropriate context of the user’s life. Prototype as if you know you’re right, but test as if you know you’re wrong.
To refine our prototypes and solutions. Testing informs the next iterations of prototypes. Sometimes this means going back to the drawing board. To learn more about our user. Testing is another opportunity to build empathy through observation and engagement-?it often yields unexpected insights. To test and refine our POP. Sometimes testing reveals that not only did we not get the solution right, but also that we have failed to frame the problem correctly. METHOD Assume a Beginner’s Mindset We all carry our experiences, understanding, and expertise with us.
These aspects of yourself are incredibly valuable assets to bring to the design challenge – but at the right time, and with intentionality. Your assumptions may be misconceptions and stereotypes, and can restrict the amount of real empathy you can build. Assume a beginner’s mindset in order to put aside these biases, so that you can approach a design challenge afresh. Don’t Judge. Just observe and engage users without the influence of value Judgments upon their actions, circumstances, decisions, or “issues. ” Question everything. Question even (and especially) the things you think you already understand.
Ask questions to learn about how the user perceives the world. Think about how a 4-year- old asks “Why? ” about everything. Follow up an answer to one “why’ with a second “why. ” Be truly curious. Strive to assume a posture of wonder and curiosity, especially in circumstances that seem either familiar or uncomfortable. Find patterns. Look for interesting threads and themes that emerge across interactions with users. Listen. Really. Lose your agenda and let the scene soak into your psyche. Absorb what users say to you, and how they say it, without thinking about the next thing you’re going to say.
What? I HOW? I Why? During observation mode, What? I How? I Why? Is a tool that can help you drive to deeper levels of observation. This simple scaffolding allows you to move from concrete observations of the happenings of a particular situation to the more abstract potential emotions and motives that are at play in the situation you’re observing. This is a particularly powerful technique to leverage when analyzing photos that your team has taken into the field, both for synthesis purposes, and to direct your team to future areas of needling.
Set-up: Divide a sheet into three sections: What? , How? , and Why? Start with concrete observations: What is the person you’re observing doing in a particular situation or hotplate? Use descriptive phrases packed with adjectives and relative descriptions. Move to understanding: How is the person you’re observing doing what they are doing? Does it require effort? Do they appear rushed? Pained? Does the activity or situation appear to be impacting the user’s state of being either positively or negatively? Again, use as many descriptive phrases as possible here.
Step out on a limb of interpretation: Why is the person you’re observing doing what they’re doing, and in the particular way that they are doing it? This step usually requires that you aka informed guesses regarding motivation and emotions. Step out on a limb in order to project meaning into the situation that you have been observing. This step will reveal assumptions that you should test with users, and often uncovers unexpected realizations about a particular situation. :: 7 :: User Camera Study In empathy work, you want to understand your users’ lives, and specific tasks within the context of their lives.
A User Camera Study allows us to understand a user’s experience by seeing it through their eyes. It will also allow you to understand environments to which you might not normally have access. Briefly explain the purpose of the study, and ask if they would be willing to take photographs of their experiences. Get permission to use images they take. 3. Provide a camera to your subject and instructions such as: “We would like to understand what a day in your life feels like. On a day of your choosing, take this camera with you everywhere you go, and take photos of experiences that are important to you. Or you could try: “Please document your [morning routine] experience with this camera. ” Or, “Take pictures of things that are meaningful to you in your kitchen. ” Frame your quest a little broader than what you believe your problem space might be, in order to capture the surrounding context. Many insights can emerge from that surrounding space. 4. Afterwards, have your subject walk you through the pictures and explain the significance of what they captured. Return to a good empathetic interviewing technique to understand the deeper meaning of the visuals and experience they represent.
Interview Preparation Time with users is precious, we need to make the most of it! While we always must allow room for the spontaneous, blissful serendipity of a user-guided conversation, e should never abdicate our responsibility to prepare for interviews. Especially in following up with users (after testing, etc. ), it is imperative to plan your interviews. You may not get to every question you prepare, but you should come in with a plan for engagement. Brainstorm questions Write down all of the potential questions your team can generate. Try to build on one another’s ideas in order to flesh out meaningful subject areas.
Identify and order themes Similar to “grouping” in synthesis, have your team identify themes or subject areas into which most questions fall; once you’ve identified he themes of your question-pool, determine the order that would allow the conversation to flow most naturally. This will enable you to structure the flow of your interview, decreasing the potential for hosting a seemingly-scatters interaction with your user. Refine questions Once you have all the questions grouped by theme and order, you may find that there are some redundant areas of conversation, or questions that seem strangely out of place.
Take a few moments to make sure that you leave room in your planning to ask plenty of “why? ” questions, plenty of “tell me about the last time you questions, and plenty of questions that are directed at how the user FEELS. Interview for Empathy Explore Emotions Evoke Stories Question Statements Intro Yourself Intro Project Build Rapport Thank & Wrap-up We want to understand a person’s thoughts, emotions, and motivations, so that we can determine how to innovate for him or her. By understanding the choices that person makes and the behaviors that person engages in, we can identify their needs and design for those needs.
Ask why. Even when you think you know the answer, ask people why they do or say things. The answers will sometimes surprise you. A conversation started from one question should go on as long as it needs to. Never say “usually’ when asking a question. Instead, ask about a specific instance or occurrence, such as “tell me about the last time you ” Encourage stories. Whether or not the stories people tell are true, they reveal how they think about the world. Ask questions that get people telling stories. Look for inconsistencies. Sometimes what people say and what they do are different.
These inconsistencies often hide interesting insights. Pay attention to nonverbal cues. Be aware of body language and emotions. Don’t be afraid of silence. Interviewers often feel the need to ask another question when there is a pause. If you allow for silence, a person can reflect on what they’ve Just said and may reveal something deeper. Don’t suggest answers to your questions. Even if they pause before answering, don’t help them by suggesting an answer. This can unintentionally get people to say things that agree with your expectations. Ask questions neutrally. What do you think about buying gifts for your spouse? ” is a better question than “Don’t you think shopping is great? ” because the first question doesn’t imply that there is a right answer. Don’t ask binary questions. Binary questions can be answered in a word; you want to host a conversation built upon stories. Only ten words to a question. Your user will get lost inside long questions. Only ask one question at a time, one person at a time. Resist the urge to ambush your user. Make sure you’re prepared to capture. Always interview in pairs.
If this is not possible, you should use a voice recorder-?it is impossible to engage a user and take detailed notes at the same time. :: 10 :: Visual adapted from Michael Barry, Point Forward Extreme Users Designers engage with users (people! To understand their needs and gain insights about their lives. We also draw inspiration from their work-around and frameworks. When you speak with and observe extreme users, the needs are amplified and their work-around are often more notable. This helps you pull out meaningful needs that may not pop when engaging with the middle of the bell curve.
However, the needs that are uncovered through extreme users are often also needs of a wider population. Determine who’s extreme Determining who is an extreme user starts with considering what aspect of your design challenge you want to explore to an extreme. List a number of facets to explore within your design space. Then think of people who may be extreme in those facets. For example, if you are redesigning the grocery store shopping experience you might consider the following aspects: how groceries are gathered, how payment is made, how purchase choices are made, how people get their groceries home, etc.
Then to consider the aspect of gathering groceries, for example, you might talk to professional shoppers, someone who uses a shopping cart to gather recyclables (and thus overloads the cart), product pullers for online buyers, people who bring their kids shopping with them, or someone who doesn’t go to grocery stores. Engage Observe and interview your extreme user as you would other folks. Look for work-around (or other extreme behaviors) that can serve as inspiration and uncover insights.
Look at the extreme in all of us Look to extreme users for inspiration and to spur wild ideas. Then work to understand what resonates with the primary users you are designing for. :: 11 :: photo: flicker/bitchiness Analogous Empathy During empathy work, analogies can be a powerful tool for developing insights that aren’t obvious in a direct approach. Analogous needling spaces can offer up inspiration, a way to get unstuck, a fresh perspective on a space, or a useful work- around when direct observation is difficult.
Identify specific aspects of the space that you’re interested in Get your team together to talk about what aspects of the empathy space you’re exploring are particularly interesting. If you’re looking at hospitals, for example, you may be focusing on extreme time pressures, very high stakes decisions or perhaps long wait times. Look for spaces that are tangential to your design challenge, but share enough attributes If, for example, you think customer service is an important aspect of the space you’re looking at, brainstorm places you might go to find particularly strong (or weak) customer service.
You may also want to brainstorm specific people you could interview about these analogous spaces, or how you might do a quick observation. Make an analogous inspiration board Saturate a space with photos and quotes from your analogous space; this can help the team share inspiration, or bring in the analogous insight later in the process. :: 12 :: photos: flicker/code, flicker/watt_dabbed Story Share-and-capture A team share serves at least three purposes. First, it allows team members to come up to speed about what different people saw and heard in the field.
Even if all the team members were present for the same fieldwork, comparing how each experienced it is valuable. Second, in listening and probing for more information, team members can draw out more nuance and meaning from the experience than you may have initially realized. This starts the synthesis process. Third, in capturing each interesting detail of the fieldwork, you begin the space saturation process. Unpack observations and air all the stories that stick out to you about what you saw ND heard during your empathy fieldwork.
Each member in the group should tell user stories and share notes while other members headline quotes, surprises, and other interesting bits – one headline per post-it. These post-its become part of the team’s space saturation, and can also be physically grouped to illuminate theme and patterns that emerge (See “Saturate and Group” method card). The end goal is to understand what is really going on with each user. Discover who that person is and what that person needs in regard to your problem space.