Methods: human-centred design tools and references

Design tools and resources

If you’re new to human-centred design and its practices, we have developed a series of projects plans, methods and outputs to help you get started. We recommend that you collaborate with seasoned designers to execute your projects rather than undertaking the design activities by yourself.

In this section you fill find a series of methods explaining what they are, their purpose, what you will get, their strengths and weaknesses, tips and a list of suggested toolkits and resources.


Affinity mapping

A way to analyse and synthesise all the information generated from research.

Card sorting

A method for exploring relationships between content and deciding structures.

Co-design →

Co-design brings citizens and stakeholders together to design new products, services and policies.

Contextual inquiry →

A semi-structured interview method where participants are observed and interviewed in context – where they live or work or in the situation where they would use a product or service.

Desktop research →

Review of existing research for information relevant to a project’s needs.

Design sprint →

A multi-day process to design, prototype and test ideas with customers.

Diary study →

Collect information by asking participants to record entries about a particular activity or experience over time in a log, diary or journal.

Ethnographic research →

Combines observation with interviews to understand what people do, not what they say.

Expert interviews →

Interviews with subject matter experts to learn about a domain.

High-fidelity prototyping →

A method to test and finalise the details of a design.

Heuristic evaluation →

Assess the effectiveness of a product against established design and content standards.

Ideation workshop →

A collaborative workshop to help groups of people work with research insights and elicit a broad range of potential solutions.

Landscape review →

A summary-style review of comparable products and services in the market that identifies vulnerabilities and opportunities for differentiation.

Literature review →

A summary of existing knowledge and emerging trends, highlighting gaps for further research and design enquiry.

Low-fidelity prototyping →

A method used to communicate, test and iterate an idea.

Problem definition →

An in-depth discussion of the project’s broader context, various stakeholders’ objectives, what purpose each project activity serves and known unknowns or blind spots.

Project kick-off workshop →

A workshop designed to align stakeholders around the goals, outputs, timelines and constraints of a project.

Quantitative research →

Research with large or many datasets that describe ‘what’ happens rather than ‘why’ it happens.

Research synthesis →

Turning data into insights, theories, recommendations and designs.

Sample design →

A way of deciding who your participants will be and how many people you will need to include.

Service safari →

Team members go out and directly experience the service in the role of customer and notice what it’s like to step into their shoes.

Stakeholder engagement →

Consultation with people who will be influenced by or have power over a project.

Stakeholder interviews →

Establish a project’s background, constraints and goals and build rapport with decision-makers.

Stakeholder relationship mapping →

Visualise the relationships between people, teams or agencies who could affect, or be affected by, the outcomes of a project.

Survey →

A tool that gathers comparative data from medium to large numbers of participants.

User testing →

Test prototypes with citizens to understand what works well and what needs improvement.