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Analogous Inspiration

To get a fresh perspective on your research, shift your focus to a new context.


Suggested Time

30-60 Minutes

Level of Difficulty


Materials Needed

Pens, paper, large paper, camera


Design team, contact in the analogous setting

Process Phase

IDEO.org teams are often led by their intuition to take creative leaps. It may feel silly to visit an Apple store when you’re designing for those living in difficult circumstances, but you may unlock the key to a memorable customer experience or a compelling way to arrange products. Analogous Settings can help you isolate elements of an experience, interaction, or product, and then apply them to whatever design challenge you’re working on. Besides, getting out from behind your desk and into a new situation is always a great way to spur creative thinking.


  1. On a large sheet of paper, list the distinct activities, behaviors, and emotions you’re looking to research.
  2. Next to each one, write down a setting or situation where you might observe this activity, behavior, or emotion. For example, if the activity is “use a device at the same time every day,” parallel situations might be how people use alarm clocks.
  3. Have the team vote on the site visits  that they would like to observe for inspiration and arrange for an observation visit.
  4. When you make your visit, pay close attention to what it is you’re seeking to understand, but remain open to all kinds of other inspiration.