Pattern finding

Combine the findings you have gathered into usable insights

Practical Information

What is this tool?

A qualitative method to analyse the information gathered during the design research phase and to identify similarities between all your findings. Similarities could be in patterns of behaviours, habits, actions and decisions.

Why do we use it?

Combine the findings you have gathered into usable insights. It helps you to define ‘rules’ for your future solution by looking for insights which can be translated into recommendations.

Design phase:

Design research


Pen and paper, Post its, Online tool, Print


1 - 3 hours

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A step-by-step guide

1. Gather all the information collected during the research phase and translate it into pieces of paper (or post-its) with quotes, visuals, photo’s, ideas, short pieces of text, etc. The pattern finding can be done in a physical setting, by spreading everything out on a wall or a big table. You can also use online tools such as miro to collect and rearrange your insights. 

2. Start by clustering similar findings, and give each cluster a title. You can cluster them using different methods:

  • Assess each piece of research (each diary, map, interview) and add tags or Post-its with words or ideas that stand out. Then you look for tags or insights that are double or that contradict each other and group them.
  • Clustering all the pieces of research that have similarities and add themes or tags to each group 
  • List the  topics you find important and create a spectrum for each topic. A spectrum has 2 opposing words for example rural vs urban. Then you arrange your findings according to the spectrum.  

3. Review your work and arrange the clusters so they tell a story on their own:

  • Connect small groupings within the cluster (this can be written or visual by drawing lines)
  • Take out pieces of information you don’t need 
  • Add some keywords to represent each cluster. 

4. Document the insights from your final grouping in both a visual and descriptive way. You can take photos of the grouping and write a short paragraph that describes the main patterns you discovered. 

How other organisations used this tool

How to use the outcomes of the tool?

The insights you gathered can be presented to all the stakeholders of the project and based on these insights you can formulate recommendations or characteristics that guide the ideation phase.

Related tools

Photo collection
Creating a visual story from the perspective of your users to empathise with them.
The images from the photo collection can be processed using this tool
Visualising your user as a real person to create empathy for them
You could look for patterns for each Persona, use their profiles to do a first selection of insights before you start to look use the pattern finding tool
Lottery game
Generating many creative and fresh ideas
Use the themes you gathered through pattern finding to use the lottery game tool, this will help to translate the insights into original ideas.

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