Lens: Type: Complex Level

The goal the product, service, or system is intended to achieve.

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record player

Design outcomes are created to achieve an intended purpose. Craigslist was designed to facilitate buying and selling between individuals. It also allows people to find service providers and even make romantic connections with other people. One of Craigslist’s main purposes is to do facilitate all these activities with no fees and very little oversight. It’s essentially an online garage sale. Sometimes, a design outcome will function in ways that weren’t intended. Counter to Craigslist’s person-to-person purpose, businesses have used the website to masquerade as individuals to peddle anything from parrots to prostitution. A design outcome’s propose is its reason-for-being.

Researching Purpose

Understanding a design’s purpose reveals its designer’s intent. When designers research function, they can define what the product, service, or system is intended to do. Defining a design outcome’s function helps designers discover if its purpose aligns with its makeup and the way it is designed to be used.

Questions to Ask About Purpose

  • What activity is the product/service/system intended to help people complete?

Look for These When Researching Purpose

  • Evidence of its purpose being produced/lived out
  • Effects it causes
  • Actors it is designed for or those it limits and excludes


References and sources that support the inclusion of this Aspects of Experiences for Design component.


Bredies, K., Chow, R., & Joost, G. (2010). Addressing Use as Design: A Comparison of Constructivist Design Approaches. The Design Journal, 13(2), 157-180.

Formal Science

Meadows, D. H. (2008). Thinking in Systems: A Primer. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing.