Pregnancy as a metaphor for designing with people

2 min readFeb 16, 2024

When you’re developing an idea, a product or a service, you need to design it a way that people will use it intuitively to meet their needs. One of the reasons the iPhone revolutionised phones is how it understood the barrier that physical buttons were creating when texting and designed an experience based on our natural gestures. The same with Kinect which removed any need to touch the technology at all. Interaction design makes the experiences you have using technology more natural.

Interaction design is at the heart of different methods — from information architecture to visual design — looking at designing products or services that people want to use do the things you want them to do. It’s modelling the behaviours that you use everyday and translating them into the design of services so that there is as little friction as possible in the transition between your offline and online behaviour. You’re setting a stage for people to perform…but you can never tell them what to do.

From being able to see the footsteps of the friends who walked down the street an hour ago to enabling front line workers in the field to quickly share different types of content to provide intelligence, discover how interaction design is changing different parts of society.

What if we used certain human interactions as metaphors for how we design with people and communities? That’s what Dr Dan Lockton @clarebrass Yoon Choi and John Stevens have come up with, using pregnancy as a metaphor for sustainable packaging design. One is from the mother’s perspective and the other is from the packaging’s perspective.

I protect my product. (Protection)

I transport my product safely. (Transportation)

I give the nutrition for my product. (Preservation)

I provide perfect environment for my product. (Material)

I let other people know what my product is doing. (Expiry date)

I know everything about my product. (Information on the package)

I sometimes dress up nicely to show off my bump. (Aesthetics of design)

What other metaphors have you found to rethink how to design with people and communities?




Head of Policy Design, Scrutiny & Partnerships @newhamlondon #localgov Co-founder of #systemschange & #servicedesign progs. inspired by @cescaalbanese