How to use

Some users had gave feedback that some tips on how to use this site would be useful. So here are some of the top FAQs and tips to make the best use out of this extensive directory:


Disclaimer about ‘over-toolification’

Firstly, a word from the community of global practitioners about putting tools in their place, within our design thinking practice. This was something that came up from discussions with fellow design thinking practitioners during the pre-launch. Some are concerned about the over emphasis on rigidly following tools and templates to the dot and forgetting that we need to allow for creative messiness and comfort with ambiguity to truly benefit from design thinking. There’s also the potential for situation-methodology mismatch if the tools are not properly explained in context.

I get the concerns. It’s something I observed in this field too. As design thinking gets more popular, there’s always a risk of commoditization and malpractice. I guess once it’s open source, we almost have to cede control over who uses the tools and how the tools are used, as much as we love to have some control over the narrative. But I’d like to stay optimistic about this, that maybe someone will apply it in some unusual but effective ways and we’ll all benefit from that learning as a community.

In short, please use the tools and resources here with a grain a salt. Everything in moderation, don’t apply too rigidly, and allow space for adapting flexibly to your situation and needs. And ask us for help (on the chatbox) if you need any!


Who might find Public Design Vault useful

You might find this site useful if:

  • you’re new to design thinking and would like to apply it to your work
  • you’re starting out on a new project and want to explore new ways to approach it using design thinking
  • your existing service/program is not working, the numbers are not coming in and you need to inject a fresh perspective
  • prior to a workshop, you’re planning the structure and agenda for the workshop participants and could save time by adopting some templates
  • there’s new findings from your design research that requires you to explore new themes using different tools
  • you’re an experienced practitioner but want to stay inspired and keep updated on new best practices


What are Collections?

Collections are bundles of tools each categorized according to a use case (e.g. brainstorming) or a specific topic (e.g. leadership). They are pre-bundled to help you find what you need quickly and easily, or to discover new resources you never knew. The numbered Collections – 01. Design brief to 15. Funding – are numbered to show the general phases of the design thinking process (though it’s never quite a linear process!). The remaining un-numbered Collections are other bundles that might be more related to a specific topic, or don’t fall easily into any one phase.


What are Tools?

The Tools page show ALL 500+ of the tools and resources available on Public Design Vault. I use “tools” broadly – basically any resource that can be used to help us do our work in a more efficient or effective manner is a “tool”. Also interchangeably called a resource.


How to use this site

Generally, there are 2 jobs that people want Public Design Vault to do for them: to zoom in on something specific that they are searching for (aka the search experience), or to discover new resources that they never knew and were not intentionally looking for (the discovery experience).

Imagine you’re in this situation: you’re starting on a new project, and you’re asking: “How do I scope the project brief properly so that we are spending our time effectively towards achieving real impact?” Based on this question, you clicked on the Scoping Collection to read up about how to do scoping of a project. The Collections are arranged in alphabetical order, so you found it easily. Under Scoping, you found a resource guide by Nesta that shares in detail the best practices, as well as a free downloadable template from Right away, you’re off to a jumpstart with these 2 tools. But you’re also concerned about getting real impact, and you’re not sure there’s a Collection for this, so you typed “measure impact” into the search bar and found some useful tools from the Measuring impact Collection. This is the search experience of Public Design Vault.

You’re feeling confident of the project scoping now, but your team leader just asked you to lead and facilitate the coming workshop. You recall scrolling across a Collection on Public Design Vault that might be useful for conducting workshops, so you scrolled down and right away, you found the Facilitation and Workshop essentials Collections. This is the discovery experience of Public Design Vault.


How do I submit a resource?

Click on the Submit buttons on the Home page, paste the URL, name, emails etc and fire away! We ask for your name and email so that we can thank you personally and perhaps credit you in some way (not sure how yet but we’re working on it), because the more tools you suggest, the more useful this directory gets for the community.


How do I stay updated on new features and resource updates?

Sign up for the Newsletter. We hate spam and we promise we will only email you very sporadically, when there are key milestone updates to the directory (e.g. new 100 tools added!) or when we launch we features like a community forum or a Slack/Telegram chat group.

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