A commonly held belief among designers is that quality ideas often come from having a large quantity of ideas, and that by generating wild and diverse ideas, a designer can arrive at something truly innovative. As technology takes an increasingly personal role in the user’s life, gaining their insight during ideation has become increasingly valuable. Unfortunately, engaging with users, especially in the ideation process, often requires significant planning, time, and resources that may be difficult on projects with limited budgets. This suggests that more lightweight methods for generating ideas with users are needed.

To help address this need, we developed a new design method we call “DesignLibs,” inspired by the children’s game Mad Libs™. DesignLibs helps designers generate new ideas rapidly and easily while still involving users by combining the storytelling aspects of scenarios, but leaving aspects of the scenario to be filled in by the user. We developed and evaluated three different formats for DesignLibs.

The result of each format is a design scenario, on which users are then asked to provide feedback. In this article, we discuss the strengths of the different formats and our experience using DesignLibs for a design project developing technology that responds to a user’s mood. We also discuss how this method fits into a larger body of evolving user experience design techniques. This article will be valuable to those interested in increasing their toolbox of design methods or those who hope to gain insights from users earlier in the design process.
The three different formats for DesignLibs