Feb 07, 2020

3 questions designers should be asking

Why, How might we, and...

Since our work as a designer is very much in a very abstract phase. We can’t just make a conclusion too soon, because when you do so, your work will be converged too quickly and have a few shortcomings in it. Instead of relying upon conclusion or solution, I usually rely more on the questions because it allows me to constantly reframe my perspective. Here are a couple of questions that I often use.

Why and Who

A fundamental question that everyone needs to ask. When things still very abstract in the beginning phase, you can rely on the Why and Who. That must be the center of your focus to help yourself and your team navigates in the abstractness.

Example of questions:

  • Why are we even doing this?
  • Why are we building this?
  • Who will consume this product / experience?
  • Who are our competitors?

A result of this first layer of question is often portrays the high-level objective, strategy, and rationale. It’s a foundation of what you will be working on.

How might we…

Once the why and the who get less blurry in the picture of what you do. The how is often time comes up to my mind as a complementary. This question is trying to frame a specific objective that you have in the “why”, but better articulated.

Example of questions:

  • How might we reduce the food waste in the hotel buffet?
  • How might we help an amateur chef to train?

These questions will frame a problem to a specific point of view based on insights that will prepare your team to start thinking about the “what”

What if…

Presumably, you get a clearer understanding of the why, the who, and the how. At this point, you want to answer those how might we questions and make something a bit more concrete. It’s time to wonder and think as high as a blue sky with “What if…”

  • What if we ask the hotel guest to order the food from the buffet list the night before?
  • What would happen if we make the digital preparation table for the chef?

You see, we answer the “how” with another set of questions and this is great because we still don’t know what the best solution is. In a question format, nothing set in stone and everything is still can be challenged. Also, allow you and your team to keep wondering.


Don’t take this as a linear way of thinking. Sure, Why and Who often come first in mind. But, you must be able to juggle around the layers throughout the progress you make. Gather information as you go and reframe your perspective if needed.

So, what question do you want to ask next?

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