# I Like, I Wish, What If

# Phase: 🔎 Problem seeking
Focus: Empathize


Time commitment: A few hours to one day
Difficulty: Easy (though recruiting users may be more difficult)
Materials needed: Users (or internal stakeholders), a meeting place (physical or virtual), and physical or virtual versions of pens and multi-colored stickies
Who should participate: Users, user experience designers, product/project owners, developers, community specialists
Best for: Quick, open-format focused discussion on user pain points, desires, and off-the-cuff solutions

# About this tool

Gathering user pain points is a fantastic way to gain empathy while also collating potential action items, but the "I like, I wish, what if" method is an even more effective exercise, and a particularly useful one when working with users who may be new to a subject area or technology. It's an open-ended discussion format that works best with 4-10 participants (for more than that, break into smaller groups in order to make sure everyone gets heard), and is equally suitable for use with end users or with internal stakeholders. Doing this exercise is simple:

  • Gather your participants in a physical or virtual space and debrief them about the item/issue/project to be discussed (this may require supplementary materials like a demo or slide deck)
  • Give them three different colors of stickies and ask them to quickly write out as many items as possible under the following categories:
    • "I like": Aspects that participants enjoy or find useful about the product/technology relative to their own use cases or worldview
    • "I wish": Things that they find difficult, dislike, or don't think are useful (in other words, pain points)
    • "What if": Things that could be incorporated into the product/technology to make it better, more enjoyable, or to remedy the "I wish" statements
  • Collate everyone's stickies in a central place, clustering similar items together in the process. As time permits, discuss each of the stickies in the group, or zoom out to summarize each of the categories together if time is a consideration

Of course, variants on this technique can be extremely useful, such as:

  • Leading with "I wish" to express pain points about a current tech state (like centralized storage of large data sets) and moving on to "I like" as an expression of how your company's tech could help address these — then "what if" can be used to brainstorm on more specific solutions
  • Adding in "I'm confused" to give participants room to ask questions about the initial debrief that may have come up while generating their other stickies