Designerly Deck

A deck of 120 cards to help design students create sharp iteration, conceptualisation and presentation skills.



Lead researcher and designer



Completed for honours project

Why do educational approaches need to change?

The needs of the world and its learners are changing, increasing the importance of learning for an unknown future in a state of exponential change. In examining the changing world, researchers suggest that some institutions are complying to an outdated concept of knowledge and failing to provide opportunities which suit the needs of this situation.


Students studying in creative industries disciplines are particularly in need of new approaches to adapt to these changes. What can be done to refocus from the emphasis on theory to technical skills and higher-order thinking, which are required in creative fields?


Responding to the challenge:

How might we explore the role of design in innovating education to identify and develop approaches that facilitate a more engaging experience for tertiary design students?

Finding an opportunity:

A project-based resource transforming learning content into a simplified and playable form, allowing students to practice the crucial stages in responding to a brief.

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Discovering the potential of combined disciplines

Underpinning the project was both education and design research. Therefore, part of the solution was to combine methods of both design and education to create a rich outcome.


The application of design methods such as human-centred design keeps student needs at the centre of the innovation process. This revealed a strong potential for co-design with students, educators, and researchers in the field.


Co-design workshops for Designerly Deck took place with students from different year levels, as well as current tutors, lecturers and learning designers from relevant units.

The project followed a participatory design process involving user surveys, co-creation of journey maps and personas. Playtesting was completed after system and design iterations.

These are some raw materials that were created during co-design workshops and playtesting. Some of these are journey maps, storyboards, empathy maps, primary

research surveys and

other questionnaires

for user-testing. 

End users know best

The co-design and playtesting sessions provided strong insight into design student’s perception of their current learning experiences. Student response made it clear that interactive and hands-on projects were currently lacking in their units. They also communicated that collaborative and project-based learning was their ideal learning experience, and that they would learn more from this. Another interesting finding was that majority of respondents didn’t believe their learning type was catered for, which showed a lack of choice and student-centred learning.

These insights shaped the core system and categories of Designerly Deck. I planned that the learning could take place within a ‘sprint-like’ design process, where students physically apply their learning. This was also informed by Bloom’s revised taxonomy, where students progress through multiple levels including learning (understanding), applying, and creating.

Equipped with the tools of the trade

The resource was refined to utilise a design sprint for its core system, guiding students through the process of tackling a client brief.


During the game, students complete the essential first stages of concept exploration and iteration involved in a client brief. Therefore, Designerly Deck is specifically designed for students commencing tertiary study, to improve their visual design knowledge and skills in an engaging and collaborative way. 

Learning by doing

There are 7 key stages (card categories) involved in the game, which facilitate an iterative design process. The 'Sprint' card reveals the client's project brief, with 'Principle' and 'Style' cards testing application of design knowledge. 'Think' allows players to brainstorm their concept, and 'Discuss' encourages team discussion and critique. 'Twist' forces players to creatively solve design problems. Lastly, 'Present' increases confidence in pitching for various contexts. 

Visit the website to find more information and download my honours exegesis: