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Design research 102

Design research 102

Unpacking and breaking down the process of design research interviews

“We can be blind to the obvious, and we are also blind to our blindness.” ― Daniel Kahneman, 'Thinking Fast and Slow'


Skipper Chong Warson

January 16, 2018


  1. (2020) Creative Template D E C 2 0 1 7

  2. P l a n n i n g D o

    c u m e n t i n g C o n d u c t i n g R e c r u i t i n g Agenda S y n t h e s i z i n g Digging deeper into design research with direct dialogue
  3. Planning Planning — Steps • Identify scope • Define goals

    • Select methods
  4. Planning — Questions to help with identifying Scope • What

    are we trying to learn? • What do we already think we know? • Are we looking to generate new ideas, validate existing ideas, or both? • Do we want to test specific products, services, or features? • Who do we want to learn about? • Who are the stakeholders? • Who is the audience for the results of this research?
  5. Planning Planning — Stakeholder Interviews These are one-on-one conversations with

    people who have a vested interest in the success of the product you’re working on. These conversations can help focus a project by providing valuable insights that would otherwise be difficult to obtain, maybe even impossible. These insights can determine the flow of the entire project, such as business goals, technical constraints, and more.
  6. Planning — Defining Goals • Is there a task that

    they should complete? • Are key features discoverable? • What’s the context of use? • Are there hacks that people are using to achieve their goals? • Where are the gaps in the experience? • How do users solve it now? What are their pain points? Are they physical? Are they bound by time? What’s delightful? • What can we learn from other kinds of experiences?
  7. Planning Planning — Four Methods • Generative • Descriptive •

    Evaluative • Casual
  8. Planning — Generative Also known as exploratory, this method is

    about building an understanding of a subject matter domain by gathering insights, identifying patterns, and challenging assumptions in order to develop hypotheses. Examples: interviews, field observation, and reviewing existing research
  9. Planning Planning — Descriptive Sometimes called explanatory, this method involves

    observing and describing the characteristics of the subject matter and its users. This usually means there’s already context around a design problem that needs to be fully understood to ensure that true user- centered design is happening instead of aligning only to cost, difficulty to make, or other such factors. Examples: contextual inquiry, interviews
  10. Planning — Evaluative This is method is where things are

    getting more specific, it’s focused on testing whether the hypothesis serves its intended purpose. Example: usability studies
  11. Planning Planning — Casual This method, also known explanatory research,

    is defined as an attempt to connect ideas to understand cause and effect between two or more variables. It is highly structured like descriptive research and is also known for use of control procedures used during experimental designs related to tests of causal relationships.
  12. Planning Recruiting — Why do we need to recruit participants?

    To do research, we need to locate, attract, and screen people to find a quality group who are willing to share personal stories that can inform us our design process. Remember, design research is qualitative research, not quantitative research. So, we need a low number of high quality participants.
  13. Recruiting — How do you know a good participant from

    a not so good participant? • They share the concerns and goals of your target users • They embody some or all key characteristics of your target users, such as age or role • They are able to clearly articulate their thoughts and feelings • They are as familiar with the relevant technology as your target users
  14. Planning Recruiting — How to Screen Ask upfront 1-2 thoughtful,

    open-ended questions that get applicants thinking about the topic at hand, such as, “What are some ways in which think about improving your health?” Getting their best contact number and email addresses can wait until the end. Then, write a precise non-leading question for each of your target audience criteria. And ask questions that will easily weed people out first. If you’re doing an in-person study, for instance, ask about location right away. Location here is critical and should be one of the first, if not the first, consideration.
  15. Conducting — Pre-checks • Create a schedule that gives your

    team enough time and space to do their work • Establish clear roles: choose a moderator and note-taker for each session • Figure out who will be “in the room” — this is the least number possible, don’t want the person to feel overwhelmed
  16. Conducting Conducting — Keep in mind Questions often have to

    be asked in the right way to get good responses so it’s recommended that your team create a discussion guide (also called an interview protocol) that everyone uses. This should include open-ended questions and follow- up questions that cannot be answered with “yes” or “no”. Use these questions as a general framing, don’t read them outright — you’ll sound like you’re reading rather than asking.
  17. Conducting — Share the load The team should plan on

    sharing the moderator and note-taker duties across the schedule. This way, the workload is shared but then so is the knowledge share. It’s a win-win situation.
  18. Conducting Conducting — Listen Actively You're interviewing another human being

    so make sure to look at the speaker directly and acknowledge what they're saying. As there is in any conversation, there might be some straying from the point but stay alert and focused on the other person.
  19. Synthesizing — Recording If your work allows for it, record

    the audio or video of the interview. This can be used for subsequent review or to share with the larger team. But don’t rely strictly on the recording, there are many opportunities for failure. In general, keep the equipment to a minimum. Like the number of people in a number, having a complex rig with a microphone can set your subject on edge.
  20. Planning Documenting — The art of note-taking Generally, type or

    write as fast as you can. You never know what details are going to be important afterwards, but you can be sure you won’t be able to re-create that one thing from the third interview from memory. Generally, if you’re storing this information on your computer, you should get it out the same day or just after a day in the field. Do it while your experiences and perceptions are as fresh as possible.
  21. Synthesizing — Where to start Now, you should have a

    tremendous amount of data. The first step is to get it out, out in the open — so your team can see it, so you can see it, so other folks can also see it. Your job now is to take this information, group it, and label it. Keep it to one observation, insight, quote, or idea at a time. Write concisely about what highlights an underlying behavior. Reserve judgment at this point.
  22. Conducting Synthesizing — Finding the signal Whether you’ve gathered all

    of the information on post-its, index cards, or some other medium, assemble your team and move the compelling, common, and inspiring ones to a new area, sorting them into groupings. You can now be critical of the data while being comfortable with ambiguity — this might be something that doesn’t make sense, not yet anyway. Above all, be patient with yourself, the team, and the process.
  23. Synthesizing — INTERPRETATION IS KEY Name each of the groupings

    that you’ve identified, paying attention to outliers and things that feel connected to a larger theme as well as things that feel new. In general, at the end of this process you should have between three and eight insights. If you have less than that, you may not have considered a wide enough range of people. If more than that, you may need another refinement pass.
  24. Is it the same as market research? Resources — Other

    ways to learn Here are three more places to dive deeper: • IDEO (2015) “The Field Guide to Human- Centered Design” - https:// www.designkit.org/resources/1 • Cooper-Wright, M. (2015) “Design Research From Interview to Insight” - https://medium.com/design-research- methods/design-research-from- interview-to-insight-f6957b37c698 • Erica Hall (2013) “Just Enough Research” - https://abookapart.com/products/just- enough-research
  25. (2020) Creative Template Thanks for listening Any questions? Contact Skipper

    Chong Warson iam@skipperchong.com