Method Cards for IDEO

51-card deck to inspire design

IDEO Method Cards is a collection of 51 cards representing diverse ways that design teams can understand the people they are designing for. They are used to make a number of different methods accessible to all members of a design team, to explain how and when the methods are best used, and to demonstrate how they have been applied to real design projects.

IDEO’s human factors specialists conceived the deck as a design research tool for its staff and clients, to be used by researchers, designers, and engineers to evaluate and select the empathic research methods that best inform specific design initiatives. The tool can be used in various ways—sorted, browsed, searched, spread out, pinned up—as both information and inspiration to human-centered design teams and individuals at various stages to support planning and execution of design programs.

Inspired by playing cards, the cards are classified as four suits—Ask, Watch, Learn, Try—that define the types of activities involved in using each method. Each approach is illustrated by a real-life example of how the method was applied to a specific project. As new methods are developed all the time, the deck will grow and evolve over time.

In its first year, the Method Cards appeared to have unexpected relevance to groups that are not necessarily engaged in design initiatives. Clients report using the tool to explore new approaches to problem-solving, gain perspective, inspire a team, turn a corner, try new approaches, and to adapt and develop their own methods.

IDEO Method Cards are available exclusively from William Stout Architectural Books in San Francisco. Call them at 415-391-6757 or click here to purchase online.

Project date: 2002