What is an affinity diagram?
An affinity diagram is a tool used to organize, categorize, and group user research data into logical clusters. The method is also known as the KJ method named after its creator, Jiro Kawakita. This process helps UX designers identify patterns, themes, and insights valuable for the design process. Affinity diagrams are often used in the ideation and prototyping stages of UX design to help designers better understand their users and create more user-centered designs. Affinity diagrams are commonly used in user research, brainstorming, and project planning.
Explore Uxcel’s Affinity Diagrams in UX Research lesson to learn the intricacies of using this method in the design process.
When do UX designers use affinity diagrams?
UX designers use the affinity diagram method to organize and make sense of large amounts of data collected during user research or other design activities. Affinity diagrams are particularly useful when dealing with unstructured and qualitative data, such as user feedback, observations, or survey responses. By using an affinity diagram, UX designers can better understand the needs and pain points of their users and create more user-centered designs that address those needs.
How to create an affinity diagram?
The process of creating an affinity diagram can be broken down into the following steps:
- Gather relevant data or ideas through user research, brainstorming sessions, or other methods.
- Collect and write down the data points on individual cards or sticky notes.
- Group similar data points together and label each group with a category name.
- Arrange the groups on a board or wall in a way that makes sense and shows the relationships between categories. You can also use a digital tool, like Miro, Lucidchart, or RealtimeBoard.
- Refine and adjust the groups and categories to create a clear and organized structure.
- Use the final affinity diagram to gain insights and make informed design decisions based on the patterns and relationships between the data points.
What is the difference between affinity diagrams and mind mapping?
In mind mapping, ideas are usually brainstormed and floated out there, often without any specific organization or hierarchy. Mind maps make it easier to visualize data or discover relationships between dissimilar ideas.
On the other hand, affinity diagrams organize existing ideas into groups based on their natural relationships, creating a more structured and focused view of the data.
While mind mapping is useful for ideation and exploration, affinity diagrams are better suited for making sense of existing information and identifying patterns or themes.