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Alternative prototypes

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30-40 minutes

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  • A board or a wall

  • Generated ideas

  • Markers

  • Tape or other to attach the ideas to the board

What is this tool and what is its purpose and benefit?


An affinity diagram is a visual tool for organising ideas according to their natural relationships. The process involves grouping and clustering ideas into similar themes and categories. The affinity diagram is useful after the ideation phase for selecting ideas to be developed into concepts and prototypes. It helps establish new connections between ideas or parts of them allowing for them to be combined into new concepts.

Steps how to use this tool in practice

The same steps apply when working individually, in pairs or in a group.


Gather the ideas generated at the previous phase and attach these on a board or a wall.


Start grouping the ideas into categories until you have a series of separate clusters.


Synthesise the idea clusters so that you can have a more cohesive whole, and label the groups.


Examine the groups of ideas. Which ones are likely to bring a solution to the identified problem? Label them as “most likely to bring a solution”, “less likely to bring a solution” or any other labels that you find relevant. The best ideas will be developed into concepts and prototypes.

Tips and hints for using this tool

  • Make sure there is enough space for people to move around the board and add their notes.

  • Keep the idea in simple form, a drawing or single or two words at most.

  • Keep the ideas that you did not select this time, as they might be useful later.


An affinity diagram is usually used for organising research information.

Other tools of this phase

Transferring concepts into easy-to-understand visual form.

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Prototyping different services through roleplay.


A detailed evaluation of the service and its aspects.

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Quick, simple, cheap and low-technology prototypes.

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Used to generate and iterate quick and easy prototypes.

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Voting and selecting ideas with stickers.

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