Step 2: Be a ‘transformer’

The word ‘transformation’ has a specific meaning in design language: it refers to the processing of raw data and research findings into new products and services that help people achieve their goals.

It is the synthesis of new ideas, and it’s where the magic happens.

Building on the empathy gained during the research phase and drawing upon years of experience as a writer and interaction designer, this is the phase where I can add most value to your project.

The outputs of a transformation phase can look scrappy, minimal and unimpressive, but it is the most important phase because it is where the deep thinking goes on. A sketch that looks simple can represent hours, days or even weeks of analysis, testing and exploration. Arriving at simplicity can take a great deal of trial and error and experimentation, so lightweight, quick and efficient methods are best.

Back-of-envelope sketching, rough or low-fidelity wireframes, paper prototypes or Axure mock-ups can all be used during transformation to explore, validate and refine ideas and design approaches.

Transformation can lead to better process flows, technical architecture recommendations, more intuitive interfaces, or whole new products and services.


Marie Neurath, a ‘transformer’ working at Isotype during the 1920s and 1930s, called transformers ‘trustees of the people’ – because they are responsible for making data, information and products understandable for those who must use them.

It is this philosophy that motivates me as a designer and has propelled me through my career.