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Ready, Set, Refine: Tips from IDEO Designers

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The Refinement phase is an opportunity to start thinking about how our great ideas might play out in real life. Questions like how might we test the assumptions that underly our ideas? play a really important role in this process – but it can be difficult to know where to start.

We asked designers from IDEO’s New York and Shanghai studios take a look at the first five ideas that were selected for the Refinement Shortlist, and they offered thoughtful feedback on ways to push these ideas forward. Some of the tips they gave apply to many ideas on the platform – so we’re sharing some highlights with the whole community.


Each idea in Refinement will be asked to create a User Experience Map. As you begin, think about all the steps your intended users will go through when interacting with your product, service or campaign. Where are the opportunities to insert the information about your project? Often, we only think about the moment when the main action occurs but if you think about the larger user journey, you may be able to get your message to the right person at a more effective moment. 

For example, the creators of SHISHU, a newborn kit for parents and healthcare workers, might consider drawing out a user journey for both nurses and parents. Starting from conception until first newborn checkup – what are moments both inside and outside the realm of healthcare where they can insert their message? How might someone discover the kit and how might they involve others in the process? Are there existing rituals that this information could become part of? 


Once you have a sense of who you might test your idea with, it’s time to get prototyping. Prototyping is a lightweight way to see how your idea might play out in real life – and to gather insights that will help you improve it. 

OMOMI, an app for parents that provides information and reminders related to their children’s health, has already developed a version of their product. As they prototype, our designers suggested some questions that may be helpful in exploring implementation. Let’s consider the following questions for other ideas on the platform:

  • What are some of the key things users love about this idea?
  • What are some of the key things users find confusing about this idea?
  • Do users see themselves using this idea? On what occasions? Where?


Many of you have already done a great job getting feedback from potential users to inform your designs. Two Legumes, One Cereal is an excellent example of this. During the Ideas phase, they interviewed a cross section of community members and have done a great job synthesizing responses into themes. 

Our designers suggested the team dig a little deeper and investigate what is behind the content they collected – what are some of the potential reasons why people answered the way they did? 

You may also want to explore the emotional motivations of your users as a way to help you tailor messages about the value of your initiative. For example, it was suggested that improvements in the value of one’s home and social status might be other reasons people would be interested in replacing their dirt floors – if that’s the case, does it change how the product is introduced?  

As you gather information from your prototypes and interviews, understanding these deeper reasons can help you come up with ways to change behavior and perceptions.


Dr. Muideen Bakare’s idea to have postpartum depression screenings incorporated into a national immunization scheme is one that will involve a number of stakeholders. Our designers suggested he think carefully about the different actors (e.g. families, nurses, hospital administration, policy makers, other hospital staff, etc.) that will need to be considered in this initiative. The next step is to identify potential points of resistance – aspects of the idea that may not appeal to these stakeholders (e.g. extra work, costs, social stigma) – and think about what might motivate and engage their support. 


The Refinement phase is all about learning as much as you can to make your idea better and better. Keep evolving your idea – drawing inspiration from your prototypes, your surroundings and the OpenIDEO community! 

The Amplify Team




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