Design Ideas on Post-It notes

Design Criteria, Makers Project: Week 2 Update

This is part two in a series detailing updates to our research into makers working contract jobs. You can read part one here, and you can find information on our research here.

Design Team: 

Kyle Beck, Sean Redmond, Lauren Sands

Primary Goal:

This week’s goal was to reevaluate insights and use them to develop 200 design ideas using reframing and insight combination techniques. Ideas could directly address the issues we observed as they pertain to makers or be free-association ideas inspired by our observations.


We were successfully able to brainstorm 200 ideas for new products or services that could be created to address problems identified.


Ideation was performed by examining insights and then grouped into the following themes:

  • Health
  • Business
  • Money Management
  • Agency
  • Art
  • Networking
  • Support Systems
  • Education

In addition, a “Miscellaneous” category was created to capture free-association ideas not directly related to makers.

Using the reframing technique, we took observations and filtered them through different environments, perspectives, and embodiments. For instance, we thought about the concept of taxes from the perspective of students, accountants, and CEOs, and each perspective brought different nuance to the idea. We thought about what a maker’s job would like in a city versus a rural area versus a space colony, and we thought about what tools might look like if they were swapped for other materials (e.g., plant plateware).

Using insight combination, we identified existing trends and popular applications (i.e., prevailing design patterns) and applied them to our observations to come up with new design ideas. This led to a number of ideas such as “Tinder for art,” “Tom’s Shoes for health insurance,” “Skymiles for artists,” “Airbnb for art studios,” and other concepts.


Some of our favorite ideas include the following:

  • A virtual reality relaxation program
  • Wearable tech that monitors and helps treat anxiety
  • Art leasing for events
  • Invoice and/or banking software that allows income to be split into different shadow accounts for planning purposes
  • A discipline-building program that encourages repetition of small tasks over time to increase resolve
  • “Tinder for art,” to allow prospective buyers to browse and purchase art via swiping
  • A communal dream network where you can share dreams and help each other achieve goals
  • Voice assistant technology that can produce invoices and help with administrative work

A spreadsheet of the full list of ideas can be found here.


Many of our design ideas focused on business development, money management, and support networks. This is probably because we were conditioned to think about our research from these perspectives when working with JUST in the previous quarter. However, some of our most fruitful ideas came from approaching our research from health and agency angles. Such ideas have potential for more widespread adoption.

The simpler an idea, the more promising it appears to be. This is the hallmark of good design: something that seems obvious in retrospect because its usefulness is so intuitive.

It was easy to come up with variations of ideas for programs and apps, but we have some skepticism about how well used they would be. Given the saturation of applications in our everyday lives, the barrier for creating one that will be used with regularity by a large group of people seems high. In addition, it was hard for us to know if our ideas had already been created, given how many apps exist that few people use. We will need to conduct further research in the next phase.

Insight combination led to more immediate design ideas, while the reframing technique led more to reconceptualizations that were mainly helpful in redirecting the flow of our ideas.

Next Steps:

This week, we will evaluate our list of 200 design ideas and determine our five best ideas, based upon 2×2 comparison graphing. With this technique, we will choose two important attributes of our design ideas (e.g., ease of implementation, significance of impact) and then graph our ideas along an X-Y grid with each attribute plotted along an axis. Ideas that have the most positive potential will be chosen for further ideation and development.