Last year while working with a client, I had what you might call a “dark horse” kind of idea — it seemed to really subvert some of the priming, baggage, or latent expectations we had brought to the project.

I designed a simple interactive prototype allowing one to sort of use the app, and if I recall correctly, I presented it too. I ended up moving forward with another one of our core ideas though, and the dark horse stayed on the shelf.

Recently I started thinking about that concept app again and was wondering how I might refine it. As novel as it was, I can also see a few problems.

I am not going to jump into the app nor its problems here but will return to it the problem space with a few more observations. I’ll also go through it with a Human-Centered Design approach. The steps I’ll come to refer to can be found over at

The goal here would be to keep an eye on refining the concept, and perhaps migrate away from that particular solution altogether.

Why use a process?

Assuming this is was an app that people will use, I’d need to take the idea out of my head and to the people who’d be using it.

What always gets me about this part is the sheer variety of angles that folks can bring to the conversation.

Comparing it to field of vision, as you add more people to a specific problem statement, you increase the field. As a solo designer, your field is generally small and so you think your solution sufficiently addresses the problem.

But as you add folks to the conversation, you might notice how narrow your focus was. It’s easy to pretend to be looking at “the big picture” when you’re listening to yourself.

At the same time, adding more people to the conversation can often seem to complicate or confuse things, which is why it’s important to carefully consider how we decide and prioritize in groups.

Human-Centered Design provides a structure and mindset for how we might go about this whole process of involving perspectives and deliberating.

The HCD process will serve as a reference point as I dive into a problem that seems pretty pervasive while helping reduce the number of variables I’ll need to consider without sacrificing critical perspectives.

Next Steps

1. Choosing a design problem to focus on

1.1 – Name the Knowns

1.2 – Name the unknowns

1.3 – Name the constraints