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Customer Understanding in Product Design


Vera guidebook and emotion cards

Vera method has been developed for women who have experienced violence, to help them identify violence, deal with the emotions it has caused and find and strengthen their own resources. The method includes emotion cards and a guidebook. The method is a combination of an educational and creative functional method. It has been developed for use by violence workers and their clients.

The guidebook and the emotion cards are a product developed by Sini Mikkola and illustrated by Sara Fager. Sara Fager and Sini Tverin continued the development of the emotion cards as part of their thesis and internship at Tie Design. In the project, user data was collected from two user groups: violence workers and women who have experienced violence.

The project aimed to gather user insights on the Vera method, with the intention of developing and commercializing it as a tool to aid women in their recovery journey from violence.

The main objective of the design process was to create a method that would take into account the needs, experiences, desires and feelings of the users, providing new approaches and a versatile tool for professionals to address the issue.

During the design process, solutions and changes were tested with industry experts. An iterative approach was used to ensure the relevance of the solutions. The partners were committed and enthusiastic about co-creation.

A workshop in a group of peers who have experienced violence, planned together with a specialist in the field of violence. The aim of the workshop was to test usability and to hear the perspectives and experiences of final users.

Exploratory study

The aim of the exploratory study was to collect as accurate an assessment of the product and its usability as possible, from violence professionals with long and extensive experience in the field.

In depth interviews

In-depth interviews were done with violence specialists who had already used the cards in their work.

Usability testing

Testing prototypes of the different stages of the application’s development on target groups.


Mapping of similar methodologies, including digital solutions and environments.

The data collected was analysed and the most significant findings were identified using a similarity chart and content analysis.


Vera effectively initiates discussions and interactions, serving as a valuable tool for addressing difficult topics. The emotion cards provide deep insights, focusing on experiences of violence and the associated emotions. However, selecting the cards may require some time investment.

You experience sensations that might not have otherwise occurred to you.”

“The bottom of the couch”

Emotions and coping mechanisms were highlighted as crucial, with various suggestions covering topics like self-destructive tendencies, feelings of unwellness, depression, and frustration stemming from a partner’s irresponsibility. Additionally, participants shared insights on other concerns, such as substance abuse or worries regarding a child.

The project’s findings revealed the advantage of the cards being language-neutral. However, they also highlighted a potential limitation in the cards’ representation of women, suggesting a somewhat one-sided perspective. To enhance the appeal of the illustrations, there’s room for further development in terms of embracing multiculturalism and diversity.

The women depicted on the cards in the new project vary significantly—they come in different sizes, hail from diverse cultures, and possess various skin tones. A key emphasis that arose during the project’s focus on violence was the importance of resources and empowerment, which strongly influenced the illustration of the cards.

“These pictures offer a wealth of insights. Visually, they’re exceptional and effectively transform the experience into a vivid portrayal.”

Emotion card illustrations

“The invisible woman”

The Invisible Woman card can represent, for example, the feeling that no one believes violence has happened, the feeling of invisibility or loneliness, or even the feeling of worthlessness.

“The mirror image of a monster”

The Mirror Image of a Monster card may represent, for example, a distorted body image or self-loathing, and someone else may understand the card to mean that the woman is wondering whether she is the abuser, the problematic party or as monstrous as the abuser claims.

The importance of empathy in service design was highlighted during this work.

The version of the Vera method developed in the project is used by experts in the field of intimate partner violence. If you are interested in adopting Vera, please contact The emotion cards developed during the project and illustrated by Sara Fager are on display at Behancessa.

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