Design Methods #44 – Elito method

The Elito method is an approach to help designers develop comprehensive and connected solutions grounded in research insights and business objectives. The approach helps designers and researchers move from research findings to the articulation of design directions, helping them move from analysis to synthesis and bridge research outputs to the needs of business, through the development of fact-based narratives. The approach was developed in 2002 and named after Eli Blevis (the name is a shortened version of “Eli’s Toolbox”).

Elito method is typically driven by a multidisciplinary team at a working session following on from primary (and sometimes secondary) research. Through the process, participants build a table summarising findings and implications of research across five themes (typically captured in a spread sheet). Interestingly these themes have much in common with the Brand esSense framework, capturing underlying consumer stories, the meanings and symbolism attached to those stories, and their potential articulation through design executions.

The five themes help build a design argument and directions to move forward, comprising:

  1. OBSERVATION is based on what researchers and designers have seen, read or heard, and is based on factual evidence, supported with concrete evidence including text, images, sketches and video.
  2. JUDGEMENT asks participants to give an opinion on the observations, providing a clear point of view, leading to …
  3. VALUE, understanding the underlying meanings and values at play. Values are positively expressed, communicating what is at stake and the link between business and consumer emotions and motivations that are relevant.
  4. CONCEPT/SKETCH shows the different ways in which design directions can solve the problems identified, visualising the way in which a solution can crate value.
  5. KEY METAPHOR builds on the sketch to identify potential hooks for the story that are motivating for the target audience.

The table / spreadsheet is built over time, usually in a non-linear way as ideas emerge, in the way that mind maps develop ideas (mind maps can be used as an intermediate step to completing the full Elito analysis). As the table is completed, lateral thinking can help to “connect the dots” between the various ideas that emerge.

Elito method provides a useful framework to help brainstorm business solutions grounded in human insights, providing more polished solutions that are ready to be taken to the next stage of development with ready-made communication ideas.


Universal Methods of Design by Martin & Hanington

Brand esSense by Neil Gains

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