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Hypothesis Definition define

A framework for identifying how you are addressing design opportunities.


  • Video conferencing app
  • Collaborative text editor
  • RealTimeBoard

Why do it:

Defining our solutions through a hypothesis framework allows us to acknowledge that we are making assumptions and testing those assumptions through our prototypes validates our hunches.

When to do it:

Create hypotheses before you begin prototyping in any form. Hypotheses are a framework to help you to articulate what it is that you are going to make.

Who’s involved:

Designers, stakeholders and engineers

Time estimate:

Small (30 minutes - 1 hour)

One way to do it:

  1. Put your personas, user journeys and journey maps to work by identifying the user goals. Decide a) what’s the user’s goal and b) how might we create a way to test that goal. In this example, we used RealTimeBoard to create a few prompts for participants to collaborate on in a video conference for Open Design Kit.

    Examples of hypothesis prompts

    We have observed that: ________ which is causing these adverse effects:__________ for: __________.

    Examples of answers to the prompts

    The whole team should try to populate the board with as many problem statements as possible.

  2. You might have a large list of problem statements - if so, create an affinity diagram to prioritize 1 - 3 problems to address with your initial prototype.

  3. Work with the entire product team to complete the prompts:

    Board prompts in Boardthing

    “We believe that [this solution] will enable [this persona] to accomplish [this goal].”

    We had participants on an Open Design Kit video conference call collaborate to come up with as many different hypotheses as they could think of.

  4. This hypothesis that should be included in the design documentation for reference throughout the course of the project.

    For Open Design Kit, we moved the hypotheses into a GitHub wiki and added one more prompt:

    “We will know we are right when: __________”

    This prompt is very useful for helping you to figure out what to test when you are up to doing a usability test on your prototype.

    Example text of the prompts all together


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