When we design a new product or service, it is important to remember that it is embedded and used within an existing ecosystem that is created from and influenced by various external factors. While user research methods, such as interviews, focus on understanding user needs within a particular context, the STEP cards method allows us to capture those broader macro-environmental external factors. Originating in the field of management, where the method is also known as ‘PEST analysis’, the acronym ‘STEP’ stands for social, technological, economic and political. Variations known as PESTLE, STEEP and STEEPLE have been devised to include legal, environmental and ethical factors.

Continued on pages 148–149 of Design. Think. Make. Break. Repeat.