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. Findings are the facts as they were observed and cannot tell us why a person is acting in a certain way. Findings are, for example: “all the women interviewed own a smartphone” and “some women find challenging to work and take care of the house duties” You can cluster them using different methods:

  • Assess each tool of the research (each diary, map, interview) and add sticky notes to highlight or rephrase the findings or ideas that stand out, that you found relevant or that relate to your research question.
  • Cluster all the findings that are similar and add themes or tags to each group, naming them. 
  • Make sure all the themes you find important are there. You can create a spectrum for each theme: a spectrum helps to identify the opposite behaviors in a certain theme and has 2 opposing words for example: rural vs urban, men vs women, low literacy vs high literacy. Then arrange your findings according to the spectrum they relate and belong to.  

3. Review your work and create insights within the themes, so they tell a story on their own. An insight is a discovery about human behavior, and the underlying motivations behind that behavior. In order to create insights:

  • Connect the findings within the same cluster (this can be written or visual by drawing lines) that can be related.
  • Take out pieces of information you don’t need. 
  • Phrase the insights with subject, verb, and the rest of the sentence and should give an explain the finding.

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

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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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