12: HCD: Inspiration Phase


Class 2 Readings in “Design Kit_The Course for Human-Centered Design.” Dropbox. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.




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  1. Choose a design challenge:
    • define what you know and don’t know
    • review constraints and barriers
    • brainstorm how to overcome barriers
  2. Plan research methods:
    • Learn from the people: define your audience, investigate outliers and mainstream examples, capture evidence (videos, photos, quotes), investigate environments, build trust, build recruiting tools
    • Learn from an expert: interview experts to learn about systems levels frameworks, technical advice, and new & innovative related solutions, plan/research smart interview questions, use secondary research to explore recent innovations & solutions
    • Immerse yourself in context: choose observational experiences that will yield key quantitative and qualitative data, capture many details of what’s seen, reflect on what’s observed
    • Analogous solutions: brainstorm analogous solutions and experiences, immerse oneself in experience
  3. Build Interview Guide:
    • Brainstorm questions related to objectives
    • Organize questions: start general and then go deep
    • Use open-ended questions to get more information
    • Sketch conversations – include conversation starters and interview questions
    • Assign key roles – interview, note taker
    • Establish trust with interviewee
    • Use 5 Why’s to get to root cause
    • Encourage interviewee to show as well as tell
    • Capture what you see and hear
  4. Additional Research Methods
    • Personal diaries
    • Photo essays
    • Card sort – prioritize and explain
    • Feedback on concept drawings
    • See Research & Design links at page bottom.
  5. Capture Learnings
    • Share interesting findings without interpreting them
    • Illustrate new ideas


The steps in the inspiration phase of the human-centered design process can be used to investigate student experiences and needs in order to design better processes.  These steps can also be taught to students so that they can investigate the needs and experiences of project clients.  Many of the steps in this process are similar to steps in project such as: list knows and need-to-knows, gather and interpret data, and design solutions that meet constraints.  The detail in the steps in the inspiration phase can be used to deepen students’ investigations of their audiences and stakeholders prior to designing products.


Preparation Steps
  • HCD Inspiration Steps applied to Designing Better Projects
    • Apply steps in Inspiration phase (see above) to develop a deeper understanding of students who are not being reached by mainstream projects (could be struggling students or bored, gifted students)
    • Design questions that gather information on student experiences, interests, and needs
    • Develop culture of trust and experimentation that helps students feel safe while you research their experiences
  • Scaffolding HCD Inspiration Steps for Students
    • Research / design activities and tools that scaffold steps (see above and articles linked below) for students
    • Design informal / formal assessments that can assess how well students are applying steps
    • Develop empathy and scaffolding ideas by trialing inspiration steps to solve a problem (example: use steps to learn more information about students that can be used to design better projects)
Early Implementation Steps
  • HCD Inspiration Steps applied to Designing Better Projects
    • Be transparent with students on how research will be used to design better learning experiences
    • Interview students to develop deeper understanding of their needs and experiences; can also get similar information by studying responses to reflection prompts
    • Observe how students act, speak, and write during project activities and take notes
    • Can do a card sort activity to identify student preferences in activity types
    • Can investigate student journals/blog entries to learn about their thinking, needs and experiences
    • Can use challenge vs. support chart to guide students to evaluate project activities
  • Scaffolding HCD Inspiration Steps for Students
    • Implement scaffolding activities related to inspiration steps
    • Use assessments to provide timely feedback to students on their implementation of inspiration steps and to refine activities
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • HCD Inspiration Steps applied to Designing Better Projects
    • Analyze student reflections and responses over time to evaluate various project activities
    • Use student data to identify strong practices and practices in need of revision
    • Use gathering / interpreting student data as a model to scaffold how students implement similar processes in their projects
  • Scaffolding HCD Inspiration Steps for Students
    • Use assessments to determine what scaffolding activities and tools are helping students effectively apply inspiration steps
    • Convert high yield tools and practices into standardized tools and routines that students use in several projects
    • Use student reflections to refine tools and practices
    • Use tools such as Ignite by DiscoverSTEAM to create more authentic contexts & to create more access to experts

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