Research is the first phase in any design process. Ideally, it's a combination of qualitative and quantitative research. Secondary "desk" research also happens during this phase, where the goal is to understand the industry, competition, and relevant technology and design trends.


Intercepts are a research method used to gather on-site, timely feedback from users as they're engaged in activities/services/tasks you want to know more about. They're usually short (3-5 mins) and informal.

Qualitative Research

Qualitative Research is exploratory research during immersion used to understand user's behavior and underlying motivations. The goal is to find emerging insights and develop hypotheses to design against. Examples of qualitative research are interviews, observations, intercepts.

Raw Data

Data collected during research without any synthesizing or modifications. This can take the form of field notes, transcripts, audio and video recordings, photos, screenshots, or artifacts.


Synthesis is the sensemaking that happens between design phases. Designers should always be synthesizing data, content, and design– but formally, this effort usually happens after research when developing insights.

Affinity Diagramming

The organizational process of discerning explicit and implicit relationships between data. An attempt to identify patterns by combining and grouping data either by logic or intuition. If possible, it should be done with another teammate, externalizing the rationale for placing data where.

Interpreted Data

Research data that has transformed through inference. The designer begins manipulating data collected from research– finding commonalities, creating themes, making assumptions, and developing insights as an attempt to meaning out of ambiguity.


Sensemaking is the designers attempt to make sense and meaning out of ambiguity. It's the synthesis process in design.


Synthesis is the most critical part of the creative process. It's the sensemaking that happens between design phases, an attempt to make meaning of ambiguity. Designers should always be synthesizing data, content, and design– but formally, this happens usually after qualitative research when developing insights.


Themes are hidden patterns that emerge through an affinity between data points, collected during research. Themes bubble up into insight statements.They are usually short and memorable.


Ideation is the phase of design where designers brainstorm ideas around a given opportunity or impact. This can be a very narrow, focused session or open-ended. The ideal output of an ideation session are concepts that can move the project forward.

Convergent Thinking

Convergent thinking attempts to find the best, most obvious and appropriate solution to the problem during ideation.

Convergent ideas:
✨ Generated through a [yes, but] process 👎
✨ Easy to present & convince stakeholders
✨ Logical, familiar and safe

Divergent Thinking

Divergent thinking attempts to explore what could be through blue sky thinking, generating a lot of ideas and suspending judgment until later on in the process.

Divergent ideas:
✨ Are original and unexpected
✨ Riskier and unpredictable
✨ Generated through play & curiosity


Ideation is the effort of coming up with ideas around a given opportunity or impact. The ideal output of ideation are concepts that can move the project forward.

Idea Framework


Innovation is the process of generating and executing on new ideas that reinvents a method, product, or service. Innovative ideas can be small or significant – but always create value to meaningful problems.

Future of _ Activity


Visualization makes concrete what was before, just an idea. It's a method of externalizing content into something tangible that can be shared, stored, and critiqued. As designers, we should constantly be visualizing concepts and ideas.