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Designing from Affinities and Models

Lead TA: Anna

Learning Goals

  • Affinity Diagrams
    • Understand the form of affinity diagramming 
      • Know the roles of Blue (low level), Pink (mid level), and Green (high level) Notes
    • Use affinity diagram process to create a common understanding of the problem and design space in your team
  • Understand form and use of Models
    • Sequence-Flow Models
    • Cultual Models
    • Consolidated Models
  • Experience the end products of a Contextual Design (CD) session 


Middleburg University operates a system (MUTTs) for selling tickets to events occurring at the university. The client has told you that the current system has problems:

  • All customers must go to one location to buy tickets.
  • An online ticket system they use,, is clunky and unreliable.
  • There are multiple systems involved that don’t work well together.

They want to replace MUTTs with a multi-location system of kiosks. You have been hired by the Administrative Supervisor of MUTTS to design the new system.

What You Will Do

  1. Study these affinity diagram and models to understand the current system and its issues.
  2. Individually, and then together as a team, identify design ideas, questions, and breakdowns using physical sticky notes. 
  3. As a group, conceive of a new system that will improve the ticket-buying experience appropriately for all the stakeholders. We suggest you select a process from the LUMA book to complete this step, such as Round Robin.
  4. Describe the new system with a combination of prose (approximately one page) and a revised version of a sequence-flow model. Aim your report at the Administrative Supervisor; regardless of your solution, be sure to acknowledge and address the professed desires of the client.
  5. Write a brief analysis reflecting on what you have learned from this experience that will help you conduct better interviews and interpretations of the data next week, maximum one page.
  6. Submit your work in your team's folder.


  • (4 pts) Will the proposed solution be an improvement?

    1. It will be a huge improvement.

    2. It might be an improvement to some of the stakeholders.

    3. It is unworkable.

  • (3 pts) Does the proposed solution address the important issues raised by the affinity diagram?

    1. All

    2. Some

    3. Few

  • (2 pts) Is the proposed solution technically and culturally feasible?

    1. Yes.

    2. Somewhat, but there are minor technical or cultural issues

    3. No, the proposal would not be feasible with the current context.
  • (1 pt) Are the reflections on the process of designing from data useful for improving future interviews and interpretations?
                A. Yes.
                B. Somewhat, but they could be more insightful.
                C. No, no reflections or they are not useful.

Time Expectation: 6 hours

  • Study of Affinity and Models: 1
  • Consideration of designs: 2
  • Revision of models: 2
  • Preparation of report: 1