Industry Updates

Office Labs StickySorter

Microsoft Office Labs took the wraps off StickySorter, as a way of doing affinity diagramming between concepts.

StickySorter was inspired by a real problem we encountered at work: Julie’s team was conducting a large study with researchers all over the world. They needed to sift through hundreds of research observations and organize them into groups using a process known as affinity diagramming. Affinity diagramming typically involves a team of people gathering in a room, writing down individual ideas or observations on sticky notes, placing the notes on a wall or whiteboard, and then arranging the notes into meaningful groups. The trouble was that the researchers on Julie’s team had already recorded their observations in Excel. Using sticky notes would mean they would need to manually copy all their observations onto notes, and then, after completing the affinity diagram, retype the observations and groups back into Excel. Furthermore, using sticky notes would require all the researchers on the team to be in the same room in order to participate.

Julie knew her team was far from alone in their frustration. Affinity diagramming is a process commonly used in many disciplines such as user research, product planning, and design. Inspired by this widespread need, we developed StickySorter as a means to bring affinity diagramming—and information organization in general—into the age of digital information and distributed teams. We developed a prototype, and after several iterations, arrived at StickySorter v1, which Julie’s team used to conduct many affinity diagramming sessions throughout their project.


Categories: Industry Updates