WNM700 Module 10

Wednesday, January 9th, 2019 | Module

Define your Project

Time to synthesize your research into your design questions. We will be doing this with a 3 step process. You will start with your raw research, which will become your learnings, themes/trends, insights, and finally, design questions (“How Might We…..using design?”). This process comes from design kit.



Learnings are the recollections of what stood out during 

a conversation or observation: direct quotes, anecdotes, notes on sounds, smells, textures, colors, etc. Learnings should be communicated in full sentences to capture the story. You’ll capture learnings as your team recounts what they observed during research.


Themes are created after you have organized the stories from your field research into categories. Did you hear similar statements or observations from multiple people? Themes are the headlines for clusters of similar learnings.


Did anything surprise you? Did someone exhibit behavior that was outside of your expectation? Insights are a succinct expression of what you have learned from your field research activities. Insights offer a new perspective, even if they are not new discoveries. They are inspiring and relevant to your challenge. 

Design Questions

“How Might We.…..using design?”

“How Might We” questions are the starting point for a brainstorming session. “How Might We” questions are written in direct response to an insight. These questions feel optimistic and exciting and should help you think of new ideas quickly.


You’ve probably got a huge amount of notes, photos, impressions, and quotes. Now it’s time to start making sense of them! Take turns pouring key information out of your head and onto Post-its.

Each of your AEIOU findings in your observations gets a post-it.

Spend time on individuals you met and each place you visited. Be specific when discussing what actually happened, and revisit the notes you took during your immersions.

Share your Stories

Tell the most compelling stories from the field to your teammates/partners. Try to be both specific (talking about what actually happened) and descriptive (using physical senses to give texture to the description). Report on who, what, when, where, why, and how. And then invite each of your teammates to share their own inspiring stories. 



Cluster Related Information 

To start searching for meaning in all that you’ve discovered during your field research, your group your learnings into themes and trends that you are able to identify. You can start by having every team member choose the Post-its they find most interesting. Place each of them on a large sheet of paper or spread them on the table in front of the team. 

Begin to look for more evidence of how these relate to one another. Have any patterns emerged? Is there a compelling insight you heard again and again? A consistent problem the people you’re designing for? What feels significant? What surprised you? Start rearranging the Post-its into these new buckets.

Clustering will take some time. Arrange and rearrange the Post-its, discuss, debate, and talk through what’s emerging. Don’t stop until you are satisfied that the clusters represent rich opportunities for design.

Find Themes

Effectively identifying themes and naming these clusters will help guide your insights and “How Might We” statements down the line. Name the clusters you have defined, e.g., “access to capital” or “problems with distribution.” Continue to sort and rearrange the information until you feel your themes accurately represent your design research—make sure no major themes are missing.



Turn Themes into Insight Statements 

Take a closer look at the themes you created for each of your clusters, as well as the stories that support these themes. Transform each theme into a sentence, eg: “There is no financial incentive for distributors to deliver fruit in the community.” Write in full sentences. 

Each theme may result in a few or multiple insight statements. 

How do your new insight statements relate to your challenge? Narrow down your insights to those that are most relevant to the original design challenge. Try to limit your insights to the three to five most important ones.

Refine Your Insight Statements 

Experiment with the wording and structure to best communicate your insights. Create short and memorable sentences that get to the point. Make sure your insights convey the sense of a new perspective or possibility. Check whether your insights resonate with your fellow designers.

Frame Your Insights as Questions 

Create generative questions that build off of the insight sentences. Start each statement with “How Might We…?” as an invitation for input, suggestions, and exploration. Generate multiple questions for every insight statement. Write them in plain, simple, and concise language. 

Scoping a proper question can be difficult. Too narrow and you may hinder creativity, but too broad and it won’t be actionable.

Select the Top Three

Your design team will help you select three of your best HMW questions for your brainstorm session. 

Trust your gut feeling: Choose those questions that feel exciting and help you think of ideas right away. Also, select the questions that are most important to address and feel like they have the biggest opportunity for design solutions, even if they feel difficult to solve for.


  • Is the answer to the question ultimately some kind of design solution?
  • Is the question focused on ultimate impact? 
  • Does the question allow for a variety of solutions? 
  • Does the question take into account context and constraints? 

Next Step: Brainstorm and Ideate

Time to ideate! What kind of interactions, systems, applications, services, are needed? What could they look like?  The trick here is to create a mass of ideas that you can narrow down later. Know that some of the ideas will be taken to the prototype stage, but some may not. Be open. One extremely frustrating bit about conceptual thinking is that almost by definition it defies process. One cannot produce a “concept factory”. Good ideas can not be automated. So, go for volume. 

Starting with broad brainstorming and listing, and then migrating to sketches, concept diagrams, or task lists, try to produce as many solutions as you can. 

Next week, bring in as many separate ideas for possible solutions that you can. Go for volume. They must be separate ideas to count as different solutions. 


List of Inspirations

What are Inspirations?

Not just other apps!

How about an artist, movement, idea, relationship, event, nature, product, book, person, family, competition, challenge, location, time period, problem, need, author….

Choose at least 3 interactive projects/apps/websites etc that inspire you. Take a screen capture image from your web browser or smartphone/device. Be sure to list the URL for the project (either the website itself or the website for the app online). Write 2 to 3 sentences defining the project. Who produced it, who it was for if it was client work, and how/where it was deployed. Which people did it help with design?


Choose at least 3 inspirations that are not from the world of interactive, web design, new media, or apps. Post images or screen captures. Try and give a few statements as to what you think was unique. Identify what is appealing to you and to others.

Post your minimum 6 inspirations with images and write a paragraph for each one and why they appeal to you. They may be associated with your topics, or independent. 

Some prompts: What’s good about them? What’s different?  Is it the content, the style, the interaction, the result, or are they just plain “cool”? What makes a project “cool” anyway?


Remember to keep up with your journaling!

1. Raw artifacts of your process 

Document the work session today and “data dump”. Sketches, research articles, URLS, inspirations, photos, audio recording with users, raw data, etc. Think of these as the “data dump”. You don’t need to spend a lot of time organizing them, but populate your journal with the “artifacts” of all of the work you did that week.

2. A brief summarization of findings

For each week, write a minimum 1–2 paragraph summary of the work that you undertook that week, and what you learned. Be sure to list surprising anecdotes, any findings of data analysis, or break throughs that you achieved! 

3. Scheduling and goal setting

For each week, write a minimum 1–2 paragraph plan of the week to come. What are the priorities in the design for the upcoming week? What needs to be found out, and why? What needs to be validated, and what needs to be tested? List your goals for the upcoming week, and briefly write about how you’ll accomplish them, and when. Try and be specific, and use a calendar. On what days will you get what done?