To design for happiness sounds like a grand undertaking. Some might even say an overly ambitious one – but we disagree. We believe that explicitly focusing on customer happiness is an indispensable part of user-centred design and, ultimately, a reliable predictor of a design’s success.

The Design for Happiness Deck is a tool that you can use to tap into the vast potential of lasting wellbeing. Use it to break down the seemingly overwhelming phenomenon of happiness into manageable components that offer you a direct doorway to ideation and analyses of your design project.

The Design for Happiness Deck

Based on the Positive Design framework developed by Pieter Desmet and Anna Pohlmeyer (2013, 2017; see below for references), these three card sets explore three essential aspects of designing for happiness:

  • Pleasure – happiness that comes from enjoying the moment
  • Personal Significance – happiness derived from having a sense of progressing towards a future goal and from the awareness of past achievements
  • Virtue – happiness that is the result of morally valued behaviour

For each aspect, a fine-grained overview of 24 potential manifestations is provided – 24 shades of pleasure, 24 human goals and 24 virtuous character strengths, combining to a total set of 72 cards.

By considering these concrete units of human experience, you will immediately be able to challenge the wellbeing prospects of your future designs. We leave it to you to decide how and when to use the card sets – to inform your research, trigger new ideas, get specific about targeting wellbeing, justify your design decisions, or simply inspire your team.



  • The Design for Happiness Deck was created by researchers and alumni of the Delft Institute of Positive Design.
  • Concept and content: Anna Pohlmeyer, Jay Yoon and Pieter Desmet.
  • Card deck design and image production: Christiaan Kieft and Simon Jimenez.


  • In communication, please refer to this publication as follows: Delft Institute of Positive Design (2017). Design for Happiness Deck. Delft, Delft University of Technology. ISBN: 978-94-92516-86-2

The card deck was based on the Positive Design Framework:

  • Desmet, P.M.A., & Pohlmeyer, A.E. (2013). Positive design: An introduction to design for subjective well-being. International Journal of Design, 7(3), 5-19.PDF
  • Pohlmeyer, A.E. & Desmet, P.M.A. (2017). From good to the greater good. In J. Chapman (Ed.) The Routledge handbook of sustainable product design (pp. 469-486). London: Routledge. PDF
  • The typologies  used in the card set have been drawn from the work of Jay Yoon, Pieter Desmet, and Anna Pohlmeyer (positive emotions),  Martin Ford and Charles Nichols (human goals), Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman (character strengths). Full references can be found in the card deck colophon.

Publication date
November 2018