Grouping Notes Through Nodes: The Functions of Post-it Notes in Design Team Cognition

Graham Dove, Sille Julie Jøhnk Abildgaard, Michael Mose Biskjær, Nicolai Brodersen Hansen, Bo Christensen, Kim Halskov

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


We investigate the way Post-It notes support creative design team practice, focusing on how they function as cognitive externalisations that, through grouping activities, support categorisation qualities associated with semantic long-term memory. We use a multimodal approach, drawing on ethnomethodology and conversation analysis, which places gestures and interactions with Post-It notes on a similar footing to speech and text. This highlights the role of these interactions in the situational context, as the design team shape and are shaped by them. Following Dix and Gongora (2011), we identify four overlapping functions: informational, formational, transformational and transcendental. We then examine the emergence of concepts and themes through grouping individual Post-It notes, showing how they might be considered nodes in an emerging semantic network.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDesign Studies
Pages (from-to)112-134
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


  • Post-it notes
  • Design cognition
  • Design tools
  • Collaborative design

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