Dis-Play version 0.1

Welcome to the beta version of practical methods and tools, which are commonly use in our studio.


Stage 1 of 5


A soft skill to feel what others are experiencing, to understand what drives them to make certain decisions, to help share a mindset or a reality. Only by having empathy can we add real value to the lives of others. As a designer, you need to understand people and their needs.

Our tips

  • Observe, study, and interview people from various networks: friends, universities, stakeholders, clients, competitors, etc.
  • If the budget is tight, recruit observers from the customer organization. Budget allowing, consider purchasing ample, externalized, custom-made background studies
  • Conduct theme interviews around such themes as problem definition, technology trends/habits, market development, or consumer behavior



Interviews give insights on both the industry, need, and future design. The purpose is to make the design process smoother.

Suggested tools: notebook, pen, video or sound recorder, inspiration cards

Suggested time: 60 - 120 min

  • Book a suitable time and place
  • Pick a theme for the interview based on the project targets
  • Prepare a set of suitable questions
  • Create a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere and remain flexible
  • Ask open questions without leading the interviewee
  • Observe the interviewee during the session
  • Listen actively and take notes
  • Leave room for improvisation and surprises



By exploring currently perceivable signals, we can forecast possible future scenarios. This way, we can prepare and plan for different outcomes and stay one step ahead of what is happening in the field of technology, consumer society, or politics.

Suggested tools: pen, tablet, notebook, laptop, camera, mobile phone, websites

Suggested time: 15 min – 48 hrs

  • Become a trend-spotter by following social influencers in their daily life, communication, or media
  • Pick up weak signals that may quickly become bigger trends if we start seeing them several times over a short period of time
  • Identify future drivers, or factors that have the impact to drive the change in society, or in a specific company or industry


Background study

It is important to focus on identifying the problem you are solving. As researchers, we must maintain our distance from the topic, keep an open mind, and examine the data from a neutral outsider’s point of view.

Suggested tools: company websites, annual reports, statistics

Suggested time: 1 day

  • Industry knowledge can be gathered by extensive interviews, googling, and asking the customer for relevant study materials
  • Build an understanding of the current topic-specific legislation
  • To get insights on the company overview, examine the website, social media, and annual reports of the company


Field Observation

The observation phase is a field study activity based on the aims set in the research plan. You can participate in the action or simply observe from the outside.

Suggested tools: camera, notebook

Suggested time: 60 - 120 min

  • Find a popular place frequented by your target audience
  • Use a camera to document details
  • Observe the direction of traffic, temperature and other conditions
  • Pay attention to people’s moods and gestures
  • Take notes of recurring themes
  • Jot down phrases you see and hear


Stakeholder Mapping

This tool visualizes everyone involved in the project. A further version might include arrows that indicate the directions of power, actions, and influences.

Suggested tools: mind map, flip chart, stakeholder template

Suggested time: 20 - 60 min

Stakeholder Mapping Template
  • Locate the target in the middle
  • Name the closest relationships
  • List the more distant connections
  • Extend the network to influencer level
  • Make sure all sectors are included
  • Recognize the key nodes and their purposes

Stage 2 of 5


At this stage of the Design Thinking process, it’s time to unpack the information gathered during the empathy phase. Define the problem and the factors affecting it, as well as the target group. Crystallize the service and what the business case, its desirability, viability and feasibility, and logic consist of. Visualize the user’s journey through the service.

Our tips

  • Begin by brainstorming with your research data and make a persona with some fictional elements to make it feel more life-like
  • Create a customer journey with interchangeable post-its, and validate the flow with the customer
  • Start with enough choice, then narrow the customer path down to a critical stage of the journey



The function of a persona is to override your team’s assumptions and create an approachable character. It becomes an invisible member of the team. Our template is designed to bring out all the nuances and depth of the interviewee data.

Suggested tools: persona template, photo

Suggested time: 30 - 60 min

Persona Template
  • Use your research as the starting point
  • Give the persona a background
  • Chart the persona’s values and goals
  • Add some challenges the persona might face
  • List some services the persona uses


Customer Journey

If there is an existing service, it can be mapped as a first version, which will then be redesigned into an improved customer journey. The journey map should highlight the critical points and bottlenecks.

Suggested tools: journey map template, blank paper or note, pen, photos

Suggested time: 45 - 120 min

Customer Journey Mapping Template
  • Use your observations gathered during the research phase
  • Walk through the critical user journey and document it
  • Recognize bottlenecks that stop or slow down the flow
  • Create a timeline or a visual sequence of phases

Stage 3 of 5


This is the point where it’s ok to get crazy and come up with all kinds of ideas. Practise your team’s capability to exaggerate and think big. Consider various angles, options, meanings, and purposes by doing practical and creative exercises.

Our tips

  • Encourage the participants to communicate as openly as possible
  • Have a few alternative ideation methods in mind in case the process gets stuck
  • Don’t be afraid of putting yourself on the line – ideation can be fun, and nothing melts the ice like a shared laugh


Idea speed dating

This is an excellent way to gather masses of ideas in a short period of time.

Suggested tools: paper, pen, scotch tape

Suggested time: 15 - 30 minutes

  • Find a suitable table and put some paper on it
  • Everyone writes down ideas on one section of the paper
  • People move to the next area and add more ideas
  • After a few rounds the paper is filled with ideas



By playing superheroes, we might think of alternative suggestions.

Suggested tools: paper, pen

Suggested time: 15 - 30 minutes

  • Think of a superhero
  • Define some of their characteristics
  • Take notes on how this superhero would solve a problem


Brain writing

This is a great tool for generating, collecting and elaborating ideas. The participants should adopt a positive, collaborative ‘yes -and’ mindset and avoid rejecting or turning down anyone’s ideas. This is a parallel process for refining various ideas simultaneously. Even the not-so-talkative participants can express their opinions easily.

Suggested tools: paper, pens

Suggested time: 15 - 20 minutes

  • State the topic and duration of the brainwriting session
  • Hand out paper to be passed around in the teams
  • Everyone extends each other’s ideas on the same paper


6 hats

This ideation or discussion tool enables the team to explore all the facets of the topic in question. Adopting different views might bring up surprising new perspectives.

Suggested tools: colorful post-its, color markers

Suggested time: 15 - 30 minutes

  • Participants choose viewpoints, or “hats” to position themselves as positive/optimistic, critical/reflective, progressive, creative, emotional/intuitive or factual/objective
  • Everyone knows and can see each other’s roles
  • Expressed opinions and viewpoints are written down and discussed

Stage 4 of 5


Prototypes are quick but creative low-budget tangibles, models or mock-ups that demonstrate how a product or service can be used. They bring design ideas alive through live demonstrations. Prototypes are used at the early stages of development to point the direction and nature of the concept.

Our tips

  • Use big paper prototype sheets to share information quickly and accessibly
  • When making digital prototypes, start with rough black-and-white wireframes
  • Try the A/B method of comparing old and new models with each other


Live prototyping

Live prototyping can involve for example a presenter showing how old and new (A/B) prototypes differ from each other, a team performing a service scenario in front of an audience, or a service prototype being played in real-life conditions.

Suggested tools: depending on the prototype

Suggested time: depending on the project scope

  • Choose and plan a situation where the service is used
  • List the key benefits the customer gets
  • Name the pains the service relieves
  • Formulate this into a series of actions
  • Create a play setting
  • Write a role play or a dialogue


Digital prototyping

Digital prototypes visualize and focus on the flow of screens or functions in digital applications. Quick sketches can be rough black-and-white wireframe models.

Suggested tools: Sketch, Axure, Marvel, Balsamiq, InVision

Suggested duration: depending on the project scope

  • When presenting a quick and dirty version, highlight the fact that the version is non-final
  • Full digital prototypes should feature the full user flow
  • Explain and justify the functions presented in each phase of the flow
  • Create both negative and positive flows that demonstrate what happens if there is an error code or when everything works according to plans
  • Be ready to answer at least 80% of the most frequent questions



The storyboard is a visualization of the touchpoints the customer or user has with the interface. It demonstrates the relationship between the user and the service.

Suggested tools: picture editing software, template, paper, pen

Suggested time: 1 - 2 hrs

  • Illustrate your service idea into picture form
  • Organise the pictures into a sequence


Service scenario

This method defines the value the service will bring to the customer on a practical level. They contain a sample of the entire user experience.

Suggested tools: paper, pen, picture editing software, template

Suggested time: 30 - 45 min

  • Choose and plan a situation where the service is used
  • List the key benefits the customer gets
  • Name the pains the service relieves
  • Formulate this into a series of actions
  • Create a play setting
  • Write a role play or a dialogue


Paper prototyping

A systematically detailed solution to the problem stated in the research plan. It is often an idea for a digital product or service.

Suggested tools: notes, paper, pen

Suggested time: 1 - 6 hrs

  • Start generating solution concepts
  • Write down the ways in which new value is created
  • Reformulate this into a promise
  • Check if your service can deliver this promise
  • Make sure the concept is in line with your values
  • Suggest answers to arising questions

Stage 5 of 5


Testing is a way to find and fix problems in your newly developed product or service concept. Plan how to prepare a test situation, invite the test users and possible audience. Gather all the material needed for the test and document the test situation. Discuss the test results in a debrief session.

Our tips

  • Acid-test the prototypes in real live situations
  • Have the audience participate in immersive hands-on testing
  • Observe, take notes, and use logical reasoning to analyze the test results



This is a powerful method that may, at best, create a strong feeling of realistic immersion. A large or extensive solution can be simplified into a more economic or manageable form. Some environmental factors may be taken into consideration better in a simulation than in other test forms.

Suggested tools: Digital or analogous materials

Suggested time: 30 - 60 min

  • Set up a time and place for the simulation
  • Examine the test users’ reactions
  • Keep track of the time spent
  • Gather constructive feedback about the simulation


Role play

In a role play, the presenters or participants take on a role and perform a service dialogue. Unlike in a theater scene, the roles do not have to be memorized by heart but can involve improvisation.

Suggested tools: settings, properties, test materials

Suggested time: 30 – 60 min

  • Explain and introduce the roles
  • Act out a service scenario or user journey
  • Demonstrate the functions of the tested product or service in a tangible, realistic manner


Acid Test

Acid testing is a general umbrella term for measuring the “survival rate” of the tested product or service in various ways. This usually involves a direct live audience.

Suggested tools: testable concepts or prototypes

Suggested time: 5 – 15 min

  • Organise a Q&A session
  • Have someone secretly observe or “peep” on a test situation
  • Ask for peer or customer reviews
  • Publish a tweet or some other social media post and observe the reactions

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