Jumping In

The Envisioning Cards can be adapted to a wide variety of situations and uses. To get started, you may wish to simply spend some time viewing each of the cards. As a set, the Envisioning Cards cover many issues and concerns related to the design of interactive systems for human use. By skimming through the cards, you may encounter both familiar and unfamiliar themes.

Suggested Uses

Below are a few suggestions on how you might use the Envisioning Cards in your design activities.


Getting unstuck. When your design team feels stuck on a specific problem, choose a random card from the deck and perform its activity. Once you feel you have made progress on issues raised by the card, draw another card or return to solving the problem.


Tracking progress. During the design process, identify cards that represent concerns specific to your project. Pin them up in a visible place. As you go through the project, use the cards to monitor your progress toward addressing these concerns. You might wish to annotate the cards using sticky notes, or by writing next to them.


Engaging students. Have your students select a few Envisioning Cards to help guide them during a design project. Alternatively, students may select a theme from an Envisioning Card and use it to guide research into related issues in the local community.


Soliciting clients’ concerns. Allow your clients to spend some time with the Envisioning Cards. You may wish to leave the cards with your clients, or spend time looking at the cards with your clients. Ask them to consider the issues raised by the cards, and to indicate their concerns to your design team.


Connecting with the local environment. Choose cards that represent your primary concerns. Take a camera and explore your office, work site, or other relevant location, and take photos that correspond to these cards. Print the photos and place them alongside the original cards to tie these cards to your local environment.

From the Community

  • Sherrilynne Fuller:

    With permission and the support of Batya Friedman and the Value Sensitive Design team, my group developed a Swahili version of selected Envisioning Cards for use in national health information systems (HIS) development work (Tanzania) and training (Kenya).


    The first opportunity to use the cards was in connection with Ministry of Health ICT team workshop planning in October. I used the cards to sensitize participants to a variety of stakeholder views of health information systems and also to assist them in designing workshop content for: 1) Ministry of Health leaders (non-ICT experts) and 2) ICT leaders and workers from MOH, other governmental agencies, NGOs, university faculty and researchers.


    I provided the cards to the team and let them choose how they would use them. The ICT team used the cards in a very informal way as a checklist to ensure comprehensive coverage of topics and also as a way of re-structuring some of the content. Their discussions, generated by the cards. were extremely useful to me, as workshops leader.


    Because of time constraints and the very large size of each of the workshops, we did not use of the cards for the workshops.


    ICT team members appreciated the fact the cards were in Swahili and commented that it will really extend their utility with health workers (ICT and non-ICT) beyond the MOH. Although we did not change the images associated with each card, they felt that the images were generalizable enough and relevant to Tanzania.


    I return to Tanzania soon to continue the national e-health architecture planning process and plan to continue to use the cards in a variety of contexts in the future — in Tanzania and beyond.

  • Together with my colleague Christian Detweiler we recently organized a workshop on Values in Design at Interact 2011. This workshop focused on bringing together researchers with different backgrounds ranging from HCI, RE, and Ethics to work together on designing digital systems while accounting for human values as well as personal values (of stakeholders and designers).


    During the workshop we had a group work session in which participants used the Envisioning Cards. The task was creating a design plan for the implementation of an ambient system to improve the quality of life of elderly people by enhancing their mobility and supporting an independent lifestyle in their own homes. The assignment focused on identifying direct and indirect stakeholders and their values relevant to the given context as well as brainstorming possible functions and creating a design plan for the course of 3 years. The participants were split into 4 groups (about 4 participants each) that worked independently for 60 minutes on the case. Each group had a set of Envisioning Cards that they could use in the group work as desired. I introduced the cards only shortly to prevent pushing participants into a way of using them.


    We could observe several ways in which participants used the cards. One group chose a card per color and looked at the pictures on the card, the theme and the assignments. In another group one person browsed through the cards and picked the ones that he found most relevant to the design case and brought the cards up whenever the discussion ceased. We also noticed opposing experiences with the cards. Whereas one group found them to be limiting their creativity and confusing as the formulations on the cards seemed to refer to an existing design, another group reported that the cards opened up the brainstorming. Whereas the first group immediately picked a number of cards and focused on the assignments on the right, the latter group used mainly the left side of the cards (the themes) and did not stay “true” to the cards, but adapted their brainstorming.


    Overall we received very positive feedback from the participants, in particular also from a participant who was working in the industry and found them a useful and concrete method.

  • My colleagues (Professor Mike Eisenberg, Scott Barker, Elisabeth Jones and Natascha Karlova) and I worked together to design a INFO200 lab around the envisioning cards. We decided to preselect two cards from the five (5) topical areas and then matched them up with systems that engage students in a discussion with their peers. Following thirty (30) minutes of group work where students became familiar with the system and carried out the exercise indicated on their envisioning cards, each group selected a representative to summarize the discussions that occurred in the smaller groups. To see the full lab click here.


    One of the most fascinating parts about this lab was seeing students struggle to wrap their minds around the concepts represented in the envisioning cards. One that seemed to throw students off a bit was indirect stakeholders. Although some got it right away others wrestled with the term and understanding what it means in respect to system design. It was clear that it forced them to do a sort of thinking that they were not accustomed to.


    One week much less a day is by no means enough to expect that individuals new to the ideas expressed in the envisioning cards to understand the role and importance of considering values in the design of systems, but it definitely a beginning.

  • I used the Envisioning Cards in a workshop on ethics at PERSUASIVE 2010 in Copenhagen. Persuasive technology is technology that is intended to change attitudes and behaviors. Our discussion focused on persuasion profiling – using an individual’s past behavior to predict which influence strategy, such as an appeal to consensus or authority, will most effectively persuade that individual to take the desired action. We thought about persuasion profiling in the context of a social network service, such as Facebook.


    The 90-minute workshop included four participants besides myself, one of whom (Dean Eckles) had previously co-authored a paper on the ethics of persuasion profiling. I was the only one who was previously familiar with the Envisioning Cards or Value Sensitive Design.


    After I introduced the cards, each participant selected a card to discuss. Two cards that led to especially fruitful discussions were “Value Conflicts” and “Consider Children.” We considered the potentially conflicting values of advertisers and social network users. Beyond advertising, we realized that users might want to share their persuasion profiles with close friends and family to get support for meeting personal goals. And although the FCC recommends against profiling children for targeted advertising, it is not always easy to tell who is a child – and moreover, parents might want their children to be profiled under some circumstances.


    Participants were very engaged with the discussion. We could have gone long past the 90 minutes that were allocated. The approach generated not only concerns to address, but also new design directions.


    For future workshops with participants who are unfamiliar with VSD, we would recommend starting with the “Values” card. This would help get participants on the same page about the scope of relevant human values.

  • Sure! Our class sessions went for three hours and their were roughly 10 students in the class. When I used the cards, I took rougly two hours of the class to conduct the exercise following an introductory lecture/discussion on Value Sensitive Design methods.


    Some students were working individually on their term project and others were working on teams. They split up accordingly and had each group (or singleton) select a card at random from the deck. Then asked everyone to apply the card to their term project, and brainstorm on the implications for 15 minutes. Then we went around the room and each team (or singleton) gave quick summaries of their project, the card they selected, and their brainstorm sessions. We repeated the exercise once so that each team saw two cards. The second time, I let them filter through the deck to pick a card that they thought would be most interesting as applied to their work.


    The students really valued the experience. I had tons of immediate feedback that was positive, and in fact their feedback continued over the next few weeks with students recalling the exercise in later conversations. I also received comments in the course evaluation on the positive impact the exercise had on their understanding of value implications for design work.

  • Batya:

    Coud you say a bit more about how you actually used the cards with students?

  • I used these cards in two HCI courses at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with Masters and PhD students. The cards were received quite well by the students and the exercise was very useful in getting the students to expand their thinking around their semester term paper/design project. I would highly recommend these cards be used by other educators and professionals in the field.

Contribute Your Ideas, Comments or Envisioning Cards to the Community