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Design Research 101

Design Research 101

Making the case for design research, comparing design research to market research, and a breakdown of several methods with one last point about prioritizing qualitative over quantitive.

"85% of core usability problems can be found by observing just five people using the product." — Nielsen Norman Group

Skipper Chong Warson

January 12, 2017

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  1. (2020)
    Creative Template
    J A N 2 0 1 7

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  2. W h y d e s i g n r e s e a r c h ?
    A discussion why research is so important and
    what is it exactly we’re after
    D i f f e r e n t d e s i g n r e s e a r c h M e t h o d s
    A brief look at three methods to get you started
    I s i t t h e s a m e a s M a r k e t R e s e a r c h ?
    If not the same, how are design research and
    market research different?
    S o w h e n d o w e d o d e s i g n r e s e a r c h ?
    Do we prototype before we research? After? Isn’t
    research really just optional?

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  3. Why design research?
    Why design research?

    What is design research
    The term design research first
    appeared at a conference held at
    Imperial London College in 1962 and
    was constituted as primarily
    research into the process of design,
    developing from work in design

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  4. Why design research?

    That was the 1960s, What
    about today?
    The concept has been expanded to
    include research embedded within
    the process of design, including
    work concerned with the context of
    Today, design research has become
    foundational to creating products,
    services, and systems that have the
    needs of humans at its center.

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  5. Why design research?
    Why design research?

    What Does it all mean?
    Okay, sure. Let’s get a little help
    defining design research. It’s a great
    reason to bring in a pull quote.

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  6. Why design research?
    [Design research
    is] the work that
    uncovers and
    articulates the
    needs of
    individuals and/
    or groups in
    order to inform
    the design of
    products and
    services in a

    — Nick Remis, 

    Adaptive Path

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  7. Why design research?
    Why design research?

    Got it, design research is
    important - what is it
    exactly we’re after?
    We can boil it down to three things:
    • To synthesize findings into
    patterns and insights, testing
    against existing knowledge
    • To construct hypotheses and
    reach conclusions using patterns
    and insights
    • To create possible futures

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  8. So when do we do design research?

    That’s all well and good
    about design research,
    but can we build
    something first?
    Of course, we want to make
    something and test it. When a
    design works beautifully, it’s nothing
    short of glorious.

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  9. Why design research?
    So when do we do design research?

    Even when the answer is
    wrong, it feels so much
    better than ambiguity
    If you’re concerned with
    demonstrating value by making fast,
    visible progress, conducting user
    interviews feels useless and a waste
    of time. A prototype can test an idea
    that is already good, but not tell you
    whether you’re solving the right

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  10. So when do we do design research?
    According to Bill Buxton, the pioneer computer
    scientist and designer, there’s a difference
    between ‘getting the design right and getting the
    right design.’
    I think of it this way: if we only test bottle
    openers, we may never realize customers prefer
    screw-top bottles. That’s what Buxton means by
    getting the right design.

    — Victor lomabardi,

    Why We Fail

    So when do we do design research?

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  11. Is it the same as market research?

    What is Market Research?
    Generally, market research identifies
    optimal consumer leverage points
    and then analyzes this along with
    other gathered data — industry
    shifts, changing needs and
    preferences — to better understand
    what its existing or potential
    customers need and/or want. Its
    notion of success is not absolute,
    though the metrics considered are
    often financial.

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  12. Is it the same as market research?
    Is it the same as market research?

    so, Design research is
    different from market
    Design research is based on the idea
    that the needs of humans are the
    optimal market and consumer
    leverage points: human needs. Thus,
    uncovering and satisfying those
    needs is the surest way to achieve

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  13. Is it the same as market research?

    Can we just do one and not
    the other?
    Not really.
    Both kinds of research — market
    and design — are necessary in
    developing effective consumer
    products and user solutions.
    Together, they can minimize
    business risks and provide a clear
    framework to create successful
    products and services.

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  14. Why design research?
    Different design research methods

    Three examples of design
    There are a ton of methods by which you
    can do design research. We’ll go over just
    three general groupings to save time.

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  15. Different design research methods

    Lots of different terms for this — user
    interviews, subject matter expert
    interviews (or just expert interviews),
    group interviews, customer/user
    intercepts — but it boils down to talking
    to people, whether it’s people who do use
    (or should be using) your product or
    people who really know your product. The
    focus here is to gain a deeper
    understanding of your user and their why.

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  16. Why design research?
    Different design research methods

    This method is more passive than
    interviewing but can be super informative,
    depending on what you’re looking for.
    Observations (sometimes also called field
    studies) can be a great way to get beyond
    what a user can or will tell you they need,
    identifying the areas where they struggle,
    and may not even think about because
    they’ve already adapted to softening the
    pain point.

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  17. Different design research methods

    There are two major kinds of testing —
    user/usability testing and A/B testing. The
    first involves giving a user task(s) as it
    relates to a mockup, prototype, or boxes/
    arrows and observing them completing
    those task(s). A/B testing is another
    method where a user is shown two
    options and pros/cons are broken down.
    No matter what the method, testing is
    about testing the user, it’s about testing
    the designs.

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  18. Why design research?
    Different design research methods

    Other ways to learn
    Among a plethora of sources, here are
    three more places to dive deeper into the
    field of design research:
    • Nielsen Norman Group - http://
    • UX Collective - http://uxdesign.cc/
    • IDEO, a day in the life of a design
    researcher - http://www.ideo.com/blog/a-

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  19. So when do we do design research?
    Some people think that usability is very costly and
    complex and that user tests should be reserved
    for the rare web design project with a huge
    budget and a lavish time schedule. Not true.
    Elaborate usability tests are a waste of resources.
    The best results come from… three studies with
    five users each [understanding you’ll need to test
    highly distinct groups of users separately].

    — Jakob Nielsen,

    Nielsen Norman Group

    Different design research methods

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  20. (2020)
    Creative Template
    Thanks for listening
    Any questions? Contact
    Skipper Chong Warson
    [email protected]

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