Christina M. Chung
Jan 25, 2016 · 2 min read

This portion was part of my original post, but I thought the explanation of sacrificial concepts deserved its own post.

Sacrificial Concepts

What are they?

The best definition I found is the following:

“Sacrificial concepts are early, raw, potentially flawed concepts made visual/physical and used as a medium for creating reaction, response, and discussion among users and design teams.”

The term was created by IDEO, which is a practice in user research to build deep empathy about a specific group of people. Building deep empathy is a critical part of this practice in the case we need to gain insight about the people we are designing for. Sacrificial concepts are especially useful for people we don’t know much about, like other cultures, or Gungans as my title says.

The bit in the term that I struggled to understand is the word sacrifice. What’s being SACRIFICED?

From my understanding, what’s being sacrificed is the actual concept. In the process of discovering and defining the people we don’t know much about, we come up with concepts that aren’t necessarily viable or feasible, and move on to the next concept.

We don’t spend a lot of time on the concept itself, so that’s how it’s being sacrificed. The concept is just available just to understand user’s thoughts and behaviour (their world) and is not to be taken literally or for the user to be consumed by it. It’s important that the sacrificial concepts are not taken literally by users, because these concepts are usually fictitious and do not exist in real life.

The purpose of this exercise is to understand a group of people and create conversation among users.

Examples of developing sacrificial concepts can be seen here, my original post.


Christina M. Chung

Written by

Product Design @ Loblaw Digital | MDEI '16 @ UWaterloo | Toronto, Canada | Appreciate meaningful conversations and thoughtful designs | http://cmchung.com

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