How to use the toolkit

Design with Intent toolkit: 101 patterns for influencing behaviour through design

There are lots of different ways you can use the Design with Intent toolkit.
It was originally developed to help inspire brainstorming and idea generation, but people have also used it to analyse existing examples, to look outside their own discipline, to explore and categorise design methods, as a reference that sits on the shelf, and even as a set of random provocations — in group workshops, and alone. See Case studies for some great examples.
On this page, we offer a few tips and suggestions.

Design with Intent cards and worksheets compared

Cards or worksheets?

The cards and worksheets enable slightly different activities. The worksheets are good for group work or where you want an overview of each lens, while the cards enable more detailed deliberations over each pattern — or looking at sets of a few patterns rather than all of them. They’re also great for rearranging and ordering. The landscape format means it’s easier for two people to look at a card together (earlier versions were portrait!).


Can you…? What would happen if…? How could you…?
Each pattern is phrased as a question — a provocation to invite discussion about the behaviour change question or brief you’re considering. You could go through all the cards and quickly ‘triage’ the patterns’ relevance to your brief based on whether the answer is ‘Yes’, ‘No’, ‘Good’, ‘Bad’, ‘not sure’, etc. The question format is based on the approach Nedra Kline Weinreich used with an earlier version of DwI, and ultimately on a style used by George Pólya [PDF] and in some of Edward de Bono’s work.
Going through lens by lens

Going through lens-by-lens

Lay out all the cards, grouped by lens (or each of the worksheets) and go through each lens seeing whether the questions inspire any concepts for addressing your problem. In groups (e.g. 4 or 8 people) it often works well for one or two people to take a lens or two lenses each and become ‘mini-experts’ for a few minutes before ‘reporting back’ to everyone else. A group discussion can then proceed to amalgamate and refine the ideas.

Annotating existing examples

Analyse existing examples and idea spaces

Try using the patterns to draw out some of the behaviour-influencing principles behind products, services or environments you‘re familiar with, and see if there are gaps or opportunities to explore further. For example (left), existing designs of kettle intended to influence more efficient use have been annotated with the relevant DwI patterns (an earlier version of the cards is shown). Printing the cards onto sticker paper can be useful here for ‘annotating’ real items.

Random pairings

Pick two patterns at random, perhaps from different lenses, and think about the possibilities of applying the ideas to your problem, both individually and together.

Models of the user

Works best with three or more people. Using the ‘Pinball’, ‘Shortcut’ and ‘Thoughtful’ categories, each person should try to generate ideas sticking to one of the models, then explain (and defend) them to the rest of the group.

Target behaviours

Using the ‘Target behaviours’ as a starting point, try to frame your problem in terms of a target behaviour, and keeping this in mind, look at the patterns suggested as most applicable.

Weekly idea

101 cards means that every week for two years you could have a new card ‘on show’ as a talking point in the office to inspire creative thinking. (Thanks to Zoë Stanton of Uscreates for this idea!)

Your own way

If you‘ve found your own way to use the toolkit, let everyone know! Leave a comment on the Your stories page.

Design with Intent card outlines

How have people used the toolkit?

Results from DwI surveyResults from DwI survey
Some results from the first 100 respondents to the DwI survey, which asked people how they had made use of the toolkit. There is a mixture of forms of brainstorming and other uses, in commercial, personal and educational settings.

Some things I’ve learned from running idea generation workshops with the toolkit

  • For one facilitator, 40 participants divided into five groups is probably the largest size where it is possible for every group to receive sufficient attention.
  • Enabling each participant to become a mini-expert in some way can help where groups contain some participants who might otherwise feel their voice is not being listened to (e.g. where there are particularly dominant group members).
  • If time and numbers allow (e.g. where there is only a small number of participants), each person’s reporting back can be done to the whole room, thus again helping participants feel they are being listened to.
  • Cards or worksheets both work; worksheets are possibly more applicable where participants are less confident about their ‘design’ expertise, since they present a more clearly ‘finite’ set of patterns.
  • Again in cases where participants are less confident about their ‘design’ expertise, or have not considered behaviour change previously, allocating just one (different) lens per group, with all groups addressing the same brief, can reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed, and allow each group to come up with substantially different perspectives on the problem.
  • For small or quick workshops, limit the number of briefs to enable groups to explore them within the time available.
  • For very small or quick workshops, where participants will not be able to consider more than one or two patterns from each lens, cards are better than worksheets since a selection of cards (rather than the full 101) can be used.
  • Cards overall appear to be more ‘fun’ for participants to use, particularly where the workshop is being seen as something different to everyday work. Cards also provide affordances such as being able to pick (or combine) patterns at random more easily — again, enabling a more fun slant.
  • If using worksheets, make it clear that participants can annotate them, e.g. using Post-It notes.
  • Ideally, one person from each group should be confident at sketching or at least recording the group’s ideas.
  • It is possible to use a matrix or otherwise exhaustively to try applying every pattern (or a pre-chosen subset of them) to the brief, and this may work where participants want to generate as many concepts as possible (even if unrealistic), to show that a wide range of perspectives have been taken, or where participants are especially confident about their creativity.
  • At the end of the workshop, every group should present its (self-chosen) ‘best’ concept(s) to the whole room, if necessary explaining the brief first. This can be done purely verbally, via sketches, or even through the group members ‘acting out’ their concept, perhaps using simple props, and with some group members acting as part of the system. This last method can work well where the concepts are services, or include products which are already present in the room.
  • ‘Typical’ workshop timings have converged on:
    —  a 20 minute introduction to design for behaviour change and the toolkit
    —  45 minutes in groups generating concepts
    —  optionally, 15 minutes to put together scenes for acting out the concept(s) if this format is used
    —  10 to 20 minutes for groups to explain or act out their concepts to the whole room
    —  10 minutes for whole room discussion and reflection

Pinball photo by Kate Sumbler on Flickr and Thoughtful photo (weighing scales) by Esther Dyson on Flickr, both used under Creative Commons licence.


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