Soften was inspired by Sharpen.design, one of my favorite design challenge generators. Sharpen is fantastic, but I found myself wanting a more specific tool that would force me to think beyond my own abilities, identities, and experiences.
The most beautiful thing about humans is how diverse we are. So why aren't we designing equally diverse experiences?
Soften is an invitation to imagine more universal products by centering a variety of real human conditions that are often overlooked.
Anyone! Whether you're into design roles, tech roles, or bread rolls, you're free to use Soften however you like.
Soften works like, well, any other design challenge generator. But here are some tips to get the most out of Soften:
Embrace discomfort. Resist the urge to cycle through prompts until you find one that's within your comfort zone. If you come across an experience you're unfamiliar with, do some research and challenge yourself to design for it.
Be humble. Your first attempt at designing outside of yourself will be far from perfect. Embrace your inner beginner and bring on the feedback.
Focus on conditions, not people. Needs and abilities can change. Soften was intentionally built around conditions, not personas. Rather than seeing just one person represented in the prompt, consider that multiple users might be experiencing the same condition for very different reasons.
Soften is a free-forever project, but it is currently self-funded. If you found this tool useful and want to help keep it going, feel free to donate via Venmo.
If you have ideas about how to improve Soften, tweet at me (@imanijoydesign) with the hashtag #softendesign. I'd love to hear from you!