Prep Time:
Time to run:
30 min

Affinity clustering template

A graphic technique for sorting items according to similarity

Courtesy of our friends at

Use this template to reveal patterns by sorting items based on similarities. This helps to define commonalities that are not necessarily obvious.

This design thinking method allows you to draw insights and new ideas out of otherwise disparate pieces of information. Discerning patterns among data is also a useful way to tame complexity.

The affinity clustering template helps you:

  • Identify themes and patterns in customer feedback or the user experience
  • Simplify complex datasets by grouping items into themes
  • Reveal relationships between items or themes that may not be obvious
  • Collaborate to make more informed decisions based on the data

How to use the affinity clustering template

To run a successful affinity clustering exercise, follow the steps below.

1. Gather data from a project, research, or brainstorming session

Add data to the template in the form of sticky notes, broken out by topic or participant. This can take the form of research data, user feedback, notes from a retrospective — anything where you have a large dataset to analyze.

2. Analyze and cluster the data

Have your team look over the data points and assign them to clusters based on themes. As you do this, look for what patterns emerge. Define each theme or category with a sentence or description.

3. Define action items and next steps

Once the themes have emerged from your clustering exercise, the natural next step is to use your findings to inform further decision-making. What action items or next steps do your themes suggest?

Tips for running an affinity clustering template exercise

To run a successful affinity clustering workshop with your team, you should:

  • Include as much data as possible before beginning your workshop so that your team has the best opportunity to identify connections and relationships, further informing the themes that emerge
  • Use color coding and tags for sticky notes to help keep track of how your data have moved as you group each item into themes, and the arrange tool to create clean grids once you’re done shifting content around the canvas
  • Use anonymous voting to help determine the top priorities and action items that result from your investigation
  • Try clustering the idea post-it notes into new groups and changing the number of clusters to find different trends or uncover new pain points

How to create a Affinity clustering template

Mural makes collecting and analyzing data more effective and collaborative

With Mural, your whole team can contribute their expertise to identifying themes within complex datasets, and determining the best courses of action.
Real-time collaboration

Real-time collaboration

Add more productivity and engagement to meetings and calls with features to guide collaboration.

Sticky notes & text

Sticky notes & text

Add ideas, action items, and more as a sticky note or text box — then change the colors and cluster to identify patterns and new solutions.

Tags on sticky notes

Tags on sticky notes

Customizable labels make it easy to find, organize, and categorize your work in a mural.

Anonymous voting

Anonymous voting

Gain consensus and reach alignment quickly, either in real time or asynchronously.

Mapping and diagramming

Mapping and diagramming

Build quick and easy visualizations of flows, maps, processes, hierarchies, journeys, and more.



Add comments and tag collaborators for smooth asynchronous communication.

Affinity clustering template frequently asked questions

What is affinity clustering?

What is the purpose of an affinity diagram?

LUMA Institute

Template by LUMA Institute


LUMA offers acclaimed in-person training, custom innovation programs, and a unique digital platform (LUMA Workplace), used by innovators in over 70 countries. Leading organizations around the globe rely on the LUMA System of Innovation — a practical, flexible, and scalable approach to Human-Centered Design.