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What is Affinity Mapping UX?

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If you have this issue that ideas and research findings get ignored or forgotten, there is a good solution. An affinity map or Affinity diagram is one of the best tools in the UX designer’s toolbox. Affinity has been used in business to organize large sets of ideas into clusters for a long time. UX workshops have numerous benefits, and this method is used to organize research findings or to sort design ideas in ideation workshops. Affinity mapping will put a sticky note with ideas on them on a wall and then group them based on their similarities to build effective next steps. In this article, we will talk about affinity mapping in the UX design process.


What is Affinity Mapping UX?

What is affinity mapping?

Affinity mapping is a simple way to document your understanding of objects in your projects. Affinity mapping is also known as affinity diagramming, collaborative sorting, snowballing, or card sorting. Affinity diagramming is adapted from the KJ diagramming method. With the help of Affinity map, you can make better decisions and move on in your project pathway, career, and clients.

Designers use Affinity mapping to organize information. By this method, they can understand their target audience and build a product or feature much better. However, Affinity mapping does not make the design process any easier. Affinity mapping can also be used to map process.


What is Affinity Mapping UX?

What is an affinity diagram?

An affinity diagram is a way to organize a lot of ideas into natural relationships. It is the result of a brainstorming session. It can be used to organize and consolidate information about a product, process or complex problem. Affinity diagrams are a great way to see how a new idea fits into your product, and how it will impact the overall experience. Jiro Kawakita, a Japanese anthropologist, created it in the 1960s.


What is Affinity Mapping UX?

When can you use an Affinity Diagram?

  • You are faced with many facts and ideas in apparent chaos
  • For situations where issues seem too large and complex to grasp
  • When group consensus is necessary

Typical situations are:

  • After a brainstorming exercise
  • When analyzing verbal data, such as survey results
  • When collecting and organizing large data sets
  • When developing relationships or themes among ideas
  • When reducing attributes to categories that can be addressed at a higher level


What is Affinity Mapping UX?

Why do you need to use affinity mapping?

You may know that user research is used to understand users’ needs, behaviors, and motivations to deliver an exceptional user experience. Affinity mapping can be helpful to you in UX research. It’s all about extracting insights and noticing themes. Affinity mapping is especially useful in strategic phases of the design lifecycle, especially the empathize and ideate stages. Depending on your role and the research method of your conduct, the themes you create for your affinity diagram can vary. When you have a bunch of data points or ideas and need to distill them down, affinity maps are a fantastic tool at your disposal.


What is Affinity Mapping UX?

How to create an Affinity mapping?

  • Record all notes or data on cards or sticky notes and put them on the wall
  • Group them based on the relativity
  • Create a statement and discuss or reflect on it.

Affinity mapping can be useful as a group activity or individually. There are some great tools out there for digital affinity mapping. Tools like Stormboard, Lucid Chat, and Upboard are worth exploring for more team-based affinity mapping.


What is Affinity Mapping UX?

Affinity mapping in UX

While affinity mapping as a method can be used by individuals as well as groups, in UX, it is mainly used by teams for quickly organizing:

  1. observations or ideas from a research study
  2. ideas that surface in design-ideation meetings
  3. ideas about UX strategy and vision


What is Affinity Mapping UX?

Affinity mapping in synthesizing research

Two common affinity mapping uses are synthesizing qualitative research findings and analyzing the ideas in early design ideation. To understand how to synthesize qualitative research with an affinity map, let’s see how we can understand it through details like user interviews, ethnographic observation, or usability testing.

  • Prepare the data for affinity mapping.
  • Create clusters.
  • Repeat the process a few times.
  • Include contextual information.
  • Zoom out and analyze the relationship between clusters

Affinity mapping helps you to categorize and sort qualitative UX research data, find patterns in the gathered information and draw conclusions. It’s crucial to convert the findings into output. The best form of this output depends on your research questions but could be a “Jobs to Be Done” list.


What is Affinity Mapping UX?

How can you use the affinity diagram template?

First, you must import your data from UX research: You must bring your ideas to the table by creating a virtual sticky for each data point.

Now look for patterns and sort by theme for a better organization:  Your team should organize your stickies into groups. Watch each team member make their connections between the data points.

Let’s Name the groups: When every sticky has a spot, start a discussion about what makes them similar and name each group.

Speak up: Use reactions to vote on each category’s priority, value, and impact on the business.

Add needed content: Drop in any video, photo, or other content related to each group. Add each piece of content to the Freehand for reference after completing your mapping session.

Now it’s the end, and of your session, your team will be better able to synthesize your UX research methods into a more thorough understanding of your data with an easy-to-use affinity diagram template.

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