I LIKE, I WISH, WHAT IF … – Holly Foster Media


Imagine you’re working on the early stages of a project. Things are going well, and you feel good about what you’ve accomplished so far. It makes sense to keep moving forward, right?

But then you consider the value of gathering opinions from outside sources. It sounds like a good idea, but it just doesn’t seem efficient and may result in an idea that’s in direct conflict with your plan of action. Besides, conducting user experience (UX) tests can be complicated.

You’re not alone. It’s human nature to resist gathering feedback. Is it worth it?

“… asking for input is a way of engaging other people and getting them involved. On the other hand, asking for input means that we might have to change plans or do something differently. Change can be difficult and takes time, so we often resist it” (Ashkenas, 2012).

But what if there was a method that wasn’t complicated? If you could gain insight from other people’s feedback in a simple, positive, and constructive way, would you be more inclined to take the time to ask?

Keep it Positive

According to Stanford University’s famous d-school, feedback “is best given in I-statements” (Method: I Like, I Wish, What If, n.d.). “I wish there was an easier way to search” is better than “You didn’t include an easy-to-use search function.” In this way a participant can voice their opinions without having the designer feel like they are being chastised.

I Like, I Wish, What If (IL/IW/WI) is a simple method UX designers can employ to encourage constructive feedback from users. The three questions are posed to each participant, providing the designer with valuable information they might have otherwise missed.

The Process

  1. Choose your “activity.” For example, if you’re looking for feedback on a proposed web design, provide wireframes or devices your participants can use to view the site.
  1. You’ll need some basic tools. Designer Kimberly Crawford suggests using a whiteboard and markers to record the verbal feedback you’ll receive from your users. Post-it notes and markers also work well.
  1. Reserve a space that’s large enough to accommodate your participants. The number can be as small as two or as large as 100; just make sure you’re comfortable facilitating a large group if you go big.
  1. Ask your participants to perform the required activity and then answer three questions … “I Like, I Wish, and What If?”
  1. Working remotely? No problem. You can download Brian Tarallo’s template if you prefer to have your participants write down their responses and email them back to you.
(Tarallo, 2016)
  1. Process the Feedback. In her Design Thinking Toolkit article, Kimberly Crawford suggests tracking any patterns that might “identify higher-level themes or ideas” (2018). If your feedback session is live, be sure to take advantage of the time with your participants by brainstorming ideas that can make your project better.

Equal Amounts of Critical and Non-Critical Feedback

According to a conference paper presented at the Creativity & Cognition conference in June 2019, “Receiving early-stage feedback often leads to higher quality results by increasing iteration.” If that is accurate, why is it that designers tend to seek feedback late in the design process rather than earlier? Researchers Kotturi and Kingston conducted a study of Etsy sellers to try and find out (2019).

Each member of the group of twenty-one participants were required to provide the following information:

  • An idea or prototype for something they were thinking about making to sell (for early-stage feedback)
  • their overall Etsy shop message (for late-stage feedback).

The feedback delivered was in the “I Like, I Wish, What If” format. According to the researchers,

“While simple, this feedback mechanic ensures participants receive equal amounts of critical and non-critical feedback while simultaneously separating the two, both attributes of a successful feedback exchange” (Kotturi & Kingston, 2019).

This simple yet effective method provided the groundwork for their study, which revealed that the early-stage variety of feedback is often avoided because “participants were less clear on what to expect from an early stage feedback exchange” (Kotturi & Kingston, 2019).

Get in the Game Early

According to Kim, Agrawala, and Bernstein, seeking feedback early in the design process for open-ended creative work results in higher quality work (2017).

Early feedback can be daunting, but not soliciting it because you don’t know what to expect is a bad move. It’s OK to be unsure. Concentrate on asking three simple questions; you’ll be surprised how much you can learn.

until nxt time …


Ashkenas, R. (2012, November 13). Don’t Ask for Feedback Unless You Want It. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2012/11/dont-ask-for-feedback-unless-y

Crawford, K. (2018, September 12). Design Thinking Toolkit, Activity 14—I Like, I Wish, What If. Atomic Spin. https://spin.atomicobject.com/2018/09/12/i-like-i-wish-what-if/

Interaction Design Foundation. (n.d.). I-Like-I-Wish-What-If. Interaction-Design.Org/. https://public-media.interaction-design.org/pdf/I-Like-I-Wish-What-If.pdf

Kim, J., Agrawala, M., Bernstein, M.S. (2017). Mosaic: Designing Online Creative Communities for Sharing Works-in-Progress. Proceedings of the 2017 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing, 246-258.

Kotturi, Y., & Kingston, M. (2019). Why do Designers in the “Wild” Wait  to Seek Feedback until Later  in their Design Process? C&C ’19: Proceedings of the 2019 on Creativity and Cognition, 541–546. Retrieved from: https://dl.acm.org/doi/pdf/10.1145/3325480.3326580?casa_token=fvIUOTRTfxgAAAAA:4sFM_BcWHz-1rMepa4mD9PCdklBW55UVIbEAIPBIe6VTUrXP9mROAwoml6fOZLnDuOwygbGLXcckmQ

Method: I Like, I Wish, What if. (n.d.). Stanford d.School. Retrieved from: http://dschool-old.stanford.edu/wp-content/themes/dschool/method-cards/i-like-i-wish-what-if.pdf

Tarallo, B. (2016, April 7). Refiner: I Like, I Wish, What If? Lizard Brain Solutions. Retrieved from: http://www.lizardbrainsolutions.com/think-with-ink/2016/4/7/i-like-i-wish-what-if

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