Brief History

We hope you get something out of this collection that helps you advance your work and understanding of design in a concrete way. If you’re advocating for the use of design in your organization, you might find a deeper understanding of what has been rigorously tested and shown to work. If you’re skeptical of the way design is being adopted, you might be intrigued by the breadth and depth of research available that points to some of design’s strengths, as well as its weaknesses. We’re fascinated by how scholars from very wide-ranging fields–everything from neuroscience to educational psychology–have uncovered different elements that make up the bigger picture.

It’s delicious food for thought for practitioners and educators alike.

It is also incomplete out of the gate and always will be. Our intent is not to provide definitive answers, but to share a bit of the magic behind design. We’ve had a great time digging into all these findings, and we hope they will pique your curiosity, too.

Our approach

We wanted to build what we’d been asked for but couldn’t find: a digestible repository of some of design’s intellectual underpinnings. We reached out to many of the design scholars and practitioners who helped shape the over the years and asked them to share the research they most often reference. We ended up with a list of hundreds of articles, papers, and books. The Design Questions Library is a distillation of those initial pointers. It’s not the complete picture, but pieces of the puzzle are starting to come together. If we’re lucky, we’ve even assembled a few corners.

There are a lot of great people who helped make this spark a reality. For a full list of acknowledgments, head over to the Public Library about page.

Note: Several articles and papers featured here are in journals that have paywalls.

While we can’t claim to have captured all the nuance of each study in a few sentences, we do hope our summaries give you a good look into some of the findings even when you are unable to access the full article.

We will include freely accessible sources that don’t violate copyright when possible. If you find one for any of these articles, please let us know here.

Our Approach