Wednesday, June 3, 2009

What Kind of Research Should You do?

Most designers believe in the validity of research. They seriously intend to plan and execute said research every time they start a new program, but the effort is often derailed by money, timing, and follow-through.

I came across an excellent summary of research initiatives and applications on Core77 that could help you select the right research effort, so that you at least have a good chance it'll get done. Often you're aiming too high when research programs fall apart. What you need to do depends on the hypothesis you're testing - and less is often more. Overshooting won't really get you better actionable results, just more work and more money down the tubes.

Summary table of research initiatives and app's (though I'm less fond of focus groups for ANY application than this author):


  1. I have to disagree with this chart. The last place you'll generate new ideas is through consumer research. Our philosophy at PSFK is that Consumers help you optimize but not ideate.

  2. I agree that focus groups don't lead to new ideas. They provide only articulated needs and are tainted further by the pressures of social conformation. Ethnographic research is another thing altogether, and I've found that a properly designed program leads to a wealth of insights. The key is to identify unarticulated needs and expose product interactions and shortfalls. At the onset of every program, my clients always ask "are we really going to come up with anything?" Observation sets a platform of understanding that creatives spontaneously translate into real actionable solutions. This process leads not only to "anything" but great things!