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Ideating "How Might We?" questions for the design

Keywords: user-centered design; app remix.

Aims and Rationale

This activity closes the cycle from data gathering to design, which started with the Thematic analysis (to gather data on the users and their contexts) and continued with Creating personas (to target the users).

This aim of this activity is two-fold. The first phase is aimed at creating opportunity areas that draw from the theme regrouping, the insights gained and mind-mapping solutions. The opportunities areas are crucial in terms channelling the design process into finding real-world ICH issues and respecting users characteristics.  The second phase makes use of two proposed templates to remix three existing apps into an application that will address the issues at hand.

Learning Outcomes and Associated Areas of Knowledge

Identify opportunity areas which enable solutions for ICH issues and users’ characteristics

Formulate new solutions for specific designs

Experiment with and evaluation via the remix of existing mobile technology solutions

21st Century skills

  • Critical Thinking
  • Research Skills and Practices


Post-its, markers, and large cardboards.

Use the following two templates: Application Card and Application Game.

How to

This activity is structured in two phases. The first phase, which should last for about 40 minutes, should start from creating opportunity areas under the form of “How Might We…?” (HMW) questions. These questions should be generated around the themes which emerged from the selection of insights during the Thematic analysis. Examples of such questions are “How Might We design for the elders?” or “How might we slow down the fading away of certain traditions using digital means?”. Students should write HMW questions on new posts-its and place them next to the theme area identified in the Thematic analysis.

This phase requires a considerable creative effort from students. Should the students have a block in generating HMW questions, invite them to review and discuss the insights they generated during the Thematic analysis. The second mini-activity of the first phase is about mind-mapping new solutions. Students should select one or two HMQ questions and place these on a separate large surface. A facilitated discussion about these opportunity statements should now start to help students refine them or generate new ones.

The second phase (which should last for about 30 minutes, included a whole class presentation) is about refining these ideas by drawing similarities with existing and established web-based or mobile applications. First, students should select one persona and one idea from the mind-mapping phase. The choice should be based on the consistency with the investigative goal and the practicality of the subsequent design.

After this, invite the students to use the designated Application Card template to create cards for three existing, available and established web-based or mobile apps that they think would inspire the students’ prototype. Finally, provide the students with the Application Game template through which they will proposed an app to their persona which is resulting from the remixing of the three selected existing apps.

To wrap up this longer activity and to consolidate the work done, allocate time from each team to present their Application Game cards to class for about two minutes per team.


In our experience, students may tend to be overambitious with their HMW questions or even formulate their questions in a way that addresses only perceived societal problems. An example of this attitude is the set of HWM questions aiming at improving the condition of women in society. The scientific validity of this activity, which is a natural progression from the Thematic analysis, should be based on the three following principles: a) the generation of questions grounded in the empirical data; b) all the design ideas should be created with pragmatic mindset leading to the formulation of a practical design; c) all research actions should ultimately be consistent with the investigate goal of facilitating the self-documentation of ICH in mind.

Assessment for Learning

This activity serves to close the research and design process which started with thematic analysis link to activity – assessment for learning can be enacted and reviewed through the students’ ability to identify opportunity areas in something that they have led and co-produced with the community- as they have moved from preparation, implementation, analysis to evaluation etc. The Application resources can help the students’ review, demonstrate and record their formulation of new ideas as well as the evaluation of existing ones. These are higher level learning outcomes which will have been supported throughout the thematic analysis follow-up activities now embedded in digitally mediated ICH approaches.

Assessment 'How to'

To facilitate assessment for learning processes, use, remix and adapt the Application templates provided. To wrap up this activity and to consolidate the learning, allocate time from each team to present their Application Game cards to class for about two minutes per team.

Invite each team to also write a conceptual design that describes the characteristics and goals of a proposed prototype that is grounded in: the perspectives of the users about ICH as emerged during the ICH-HCI workshop and the findings of the Thematic analysis. This would help grounding the formulation of solutions into the gathered data.

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Student Assignment Editable Word File


  • Ensure that the HMW questions are not overambitious or inconsistent with the ultimate investigative goals of the educational experience.
  • Use the designated templates to facilitate the proposition of a new app.