During the Define stage you'll build on everything you learned in Discover, to work out which problem you're solving for the user, and how you're going to do it. You'll be generating and testing new ideas, and gathering inspirations for your solutions.

Once you're ready you'll be prototyping your ideas in a way that can be tested and working towards agreeing exactly how you're going to tackle your user's problem.
By the end of the Define stage you'll know the exact problem you're solving for the user and how you're going to do it.
Generating Ideas
Testing Your Ideas
Inspirations Map
Solution Statement
Generating Ideas
You'll be using techniques to devise a range of ideas that might tackle your user's problem statement. Your ideas might be sketches, or you might want to use some digital tools, to work through your ideas. Tools like 'Crazy 8's' can be brilliant for getting your ideas down on paper fast! You might even create a storyboard, to show how the stages of an idea develop in the hands of one of your users.

Crazy 8s

This is a fun tool to get yours and your team's ideas out in sketch form. You don't need to be good at drawing, just some scribbles and stickmen can really help to formalise ideas!

What you need:

  • A4 paper
  • Sticky dots
  • Sharpies

  • With your team, take an A4 piece of paper each.
  • Fold it in half 3 times.
  • Unfold the paper - you should have 8 small 'windows' - these can either be steps in a process, or you can use a window per idea, it's totally up to you.
  • Set a timer for 5 minutes and ask everyone to start drawing - with a sharpie (it means you can't go into too much detail!) - ideas that might help solve the problem you've chosen to tackle.
  • At the end, ask everyone to explain their ideas to the rest of the group. It can sometimes take a couple of goes for people to relax into the exercise, so feel free to repeat if you need.
  • Time for a second round!
  • Get a fresh piece of paper, and ask everyone to pick the idea they most like from their previous sketches and go into a bit more detail this time.
  • Set a timer for 8 minutes and sketch away!
  • Stick them up on a wall and get everyone to present their sketches back to the team.
  • Voting time! Give everyone 3 sticky dots, and ask them to choose their favourite ideas or elements from the team's sketches for the ideas or elements of an idea that they like best.
  • The ideas that get the most dots are ones to explore further. Once they've been tidied up (either another hand-drawn sketch or a very basic concept made online) they can be shown to users to get their feedback.
Testing Your Ideas
You might love one of your ideas, but you'll still want to test it out with some of your users. These might be the users that you spoke to in the Discover stage, or they might be new to the process. Either way testing to make sure you're designing something that your users want and would use is an essential part of the Define stage.

Testing techniques

The Crazy 8 exercise will hopefully have given you some ideas. Now is your chance to test them with your users.

It's not a good idea to ask users outright if they would use a particular service or like a particular idea because they will always say yes, either to be polite or because they believe they would. But humans are awful predictors of future behaviour; just think about how long new year resolutions to go to the gym actually last!

Instead, your tests should be something your users can comment on, suggest changes to, say if they think it's an awful idea, or more importantly, if it reminds them of something they've used in the past or currently use. Some lightweight concepts or very simple prototypes are best to get open feedback - if you make something look too polished, your users may worry you'll get offended if they say they don't like it. Keep it simple and quick, and do a couple of rounds of testing.

Here are some examples of ways you can test your ideas.
Inspirations Map
Building on the desk research that you did in the Discover stage, the inspirations map can help you to discover elements of other products or approaches that you like and that might work in your prototypes. You'll be searching around to find inspirations from other sectors, and really understanding exactly what it is that you like about them and how similar approaches might work for your users.

Here's an example of an Inspiration deck we put together during a project with Refugee Action..
You'll build on the ideas that tested most successfully to create a next level of clickable prototypes. These will probably be more detailed and will provide more for you to test with your users. You could use tools like Marvel, inVision, Tilda or even something as simple as a presentation deck, to design and step your users through the stages of your idea.

There's quite a lot to Prototyping, so here is a link to a presentation that runs through the whys and hows in a bit more depth.
Agree Your Solution Statement
Just like agreeing the 'right problem' at the end of the Discover stage, at the end of the Define stage you'll agree that you have the right solution statement. Putting how you're tackling the challenge into a short, simple statement is great for ensuring that everyone from your organisation is clear about what you're doing, why and how.
Fuse taught us how to talk to the future users of our product. While I knew how to find out what the users' problems were, when it came to finding solutions, my method was skipping a vital step: I had no real evidence of their day-to-day needs and behaviours.
— Kristina Barrick, ex-Digital Innovation Manager Breast Cancer Care
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