Design Criteria Canvas

What is an objective way to help a team understand, evaluate and prioritize different characteristics related to a new idea?

Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN on Unsplash
Tried and Tested
Worksheet, Activity
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Purpose for Students
Get Equipped
Date Added: 
June 2019

Relationship to Ambiguity

Figuring out what solution or idea you want to pursue can be tricky, especially if there are a lot of opinions weighing in. The design criteria is a simple worksheet and activity that helps a team or individual quickly brainstorm and identify characteristics of a solution that are critical "musts" versus merely nice to have, or, in some cases, an absolute "no."

The design criteria is extremely useful to align the team on what matters when starting a new endeavor. It helps the team decipher between what can be built and what should be built. It can serve as a grounding "north star" for a team to help them stay on track, or get refocused, when things can get a little murky or muddy in the process.




The design criteria has been used in many corporate innovation efforts and creative classroom exercises. It can be used as a stand-alone tool, or in conjunction with other practices or tools.




This tool may seem obvious and simple, but is incredibly enlightening and useful.

Design Abilities Used

This tool helps teams experiment rapidly based on identified criteria. What would an all "must" idea look like, or an all "won't"?

It also helps synthesize different types of information against a clear rubric, which can be very liberating.


This activity and worksheet was featured in the book Design A Better Business, co-authored by Lisa Kay Solomon, Patrick van der Pijl, and Justin Lokitz.

Designed by:

Lisa Kay Solomon
Lisa Kay Solomon
Designer in Residence + Lecturer, Stanford

Design Abilities Used

Experiment Rapidly
Synthesize Information
Learn More about Design Abilities 


This resource is the original work of the Designer(s). I/we give permission for it to be licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.

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