Looking methods | Participatory Research
Buy a Feature
A game in which people use artificial money to express trade-off decisions
Often when we talk about price what we’re really measuring is value. In real estate you’ll often hear that a property is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. This is the idea behind Buy a Feature. The game is designed to help elicit the truth about what people value, not just what they say they value.
This method is based on a system of constraints that create tension by offering choices that exceed available resources. It aims to simulate the conditions that exist when people have to budget their resources to get what they truly desire. Because you provide people with a limited amount of currency with which to buy items, participants must pick and choose which are most important. The resulting decisions are valuable in assessing what features or concepts should be present in the final design. Additionally, you can monitor the decision-making process, asking questions about why participants make certain choices. Those answers may be just as meaningful as their purchases.
The benefits of this method
- Reveals what people value.
- Shows how people deliberate.
- Uncovers latent and unmet needs.
- Yields documents that inform ensuing work.
- Identify a product, service, or policy to focus on.
- Generate a list of potential features.
- Make playing cards for the various features.
- Include a price for each feature.
- Invite a group of stakeholders to play the game.
- Give each player a set of cards with price tags.
- Give them a limited amount of artificial money.
- Ask them to purchase features within the budget.
- Encourage them to articulate their deliberations.
- Pricing can be based on the actual cost of execution.
- Listen for evidence of motivations and priorities.
- Have participants make buying decisions in pairs.
Combining LUMA methods into design recipes
The methods in the LUMA System are great on their own, but they are really powerful when combined into design recipes. Just like when you combine ingredients to make a tasty meal, you can also combine design methods to address challenges such as improving workplace culture or uncovering customer insights.
An example of a recipe from LUMA Workplace®:
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