Kim Goodwin’s 5 Essential Questions for Great Design

Jared Spool

November 17th, 2011

One of the joys of putting together a conference, like the annual User Interface Conference, is the great conversations I have with all the smart people who show up.

This year was no exception, and one conversation that stood out was a quick discussion I had with Kim Goodwin, author of Designing in the Digital Age and who gave her workshop on designing with scenarios. While we were talking, we got on the topic of what questions designers need to know to create great designs.

Kim’s thinking is there are only five questions that are essential to creating great designs:

  1. What is the user trying to accomplish?
  2. What does the user need to know to accomplish their goal?
  3. How should the user feel as they accomplish it?
  4. How does the current design (or alternative) currently make them feel?
  5. What did they do to accomplish it?

She boils it down to three essential components: Accomplish, Know, and Feel. If you understand what your user wants to accomplish, what they need to know, and how they want to feel, you’re well on your way discovering what’s necessary for your design to be great.

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