Design-Led Design-led with participatory mindset
Design-led with expert mindset Expert Mindset Users seen as subjects Participatory Mindset Users seen as partners Research-led with expert mindset Dubberly Design Office Research-led with participatory mindset Research-Led
“Design thinking is a humancentered
approach to innovation that draws from the designer's toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.” – Tim Brown, president and CEO IDEO
Research and Collaboration Working together
across disciplines and making decisions based on evidence shouldn’t be hard, but they can be. Done right, research and working collaboratively reinforce each other through a shared understanding of reality. Start with your goal in mind, not with any process or buzzword. Asking questions and cutting across traditional roles can both be threatening to the established order. Commit to clear communication and critical thinking. Research questions follow from goals, assumptions, and risk. Always have a framework and a plan.
Basic Stakeholder Questions What is
your title? How long have you been in this role? What are your essential duties and responsibilities? What does a typical day look like? Who are the people you work most closely with? How is that going? What does success mean from your perspective, what will have changed for the better once this project is complete? Do you have any concerns about this project? What do you think the greatest challenges to success are? Internal and external?
For each stakeholder, note the
following: What’s their general attitude toward this project? What’s the goal as they describe it? To what extent are this person’s incentives aligned with the project’s success? How much and what type of influence do they have? Who else do they communicate with on a regular basis? To what extent does this stakeholder need to participate throughout the project, and in which role? Is what you heard in harmony or in conflict with what you’ve heard from others throughout the organization?
Stakeholder power moves “Why are
you asking me this?” “I don’t understand that question. It doesn’t make any sense.” “I don’t feel comfortable talking to you about that.” “No one pays attention to anything I have to say, so I don’t know why I should bother talking to you.” “How much more time is this going to take?”
10 minutes practice. What is
your title? How long have you been in this role? What are your essential duties and responsibilities? What does a typical day look like? Who are the people you work most closely with? How is that going? What do you think the greatest challenges to success are? Internal and external?
Interview Checklist Create a welcoming
atmosphere to make participants feel at ease. Always listen more than you speak. Take responsibility to accurately convey the thoughts and behaviors of the people you are studying. Start each interview with a general description of the goal, but be careful of focusing responses too narrowly. Avoid leading questions and closed yes/no questions. Ask follow-up questions. Prepare an outline of your interview questions in advance, but don’t be afraid to stray from it. Also note the exact phrases and vocabulary that participants use.
Interview Scenario You work for
an e-Commerce site that wants to develop a new service to help people give gifts. The goal of the research is to identify unmet needs people might have with regard to giving gifts.
Competitive Review How do they
explicitly position themselves? What do they say they offer? Who do they appear to be targeting? How does this overlap or differ from your target audience or users? What are the key differentiators? The factors that make them uniquely valuable to their target market, if any? How do the user needs or wants they’re serving overlap or differ from those that you’re serving or desire to serve? What do you notice that they’re doing particularly well or badly? Based on this assessment, where do you see emerging or established conventions in how they do things, opportunities to offer something clearly superior, or good practices you’ll need to adopt or take into consideration to compete with them?
How to find people: •
From your existing, high-traffic site • Social networks • Friends and family • Mailing lists • Flyers
A good research activity: •
Answers a key question • Addresses identified assumptions • Informs specific decisions • Involves your team • Fits your level of expertise • Fits your schedule and budget
• Fundamentally research is a
simple process • There are many activities and definitions • No pressure! • Select the methods that inform decisions • Begin by understanding your organization • Never ask what people like • People are lazy, forgetful creatures of habit • Keep each other honest • Practice and learn
Basic Analysis Closely review the
notes. Look for interesting behaviors, emotions, actions, and verbatim quotes. Write what you observed on a sticky note (coded to the source, the actual user, so you can trace it back). Group the notes. Watch the patterns emerge. Rearrange the notes as you continue to assess the patterns.
Ground rules Acknowledge that the
goal of this exercise is to better understand the context and needs of the user. Focus solely on that goal. Respect the structure of the session. Refrain from identifying larger patterns before you’ve gone through the data. Clearly differentiate observations from interpretations (what happened versus what it means). No specific solutions until after you’ve gone through insights and principles. Solutions come next.
Generate lists of words related
to the main concept. The list can come from research, reading, experts, brainstorming, or any other source. The second step is to edit the list. Some terms may be related to the subject, but not in a way that meets the project goals. The third step is to define the terms on the edited list. This is particularly important with unfamiliar or technical terms. But it also helps with familiar terms, too. Create a matrix listing all the terms down one side and repeating the list across the top. Note the relationship in the boxes where a row and column intersect. The resulting matrix of relationships provides a checklist for building the concept map.
• List terms • Edit
the list • Define the remaining terms • Create a matrix showing the relations of terms • Rank the terms • Decide on main branches or write framing sentences • Fill in the rest of the structure • Revise • Apply typography to reinforce structure • Revise
Analysis and Models Everyone on
the team should be involved in turning data into insights. A productive session requires rules. Once you and your team have extracted insights from data, document those insights in models. A model distills and documents thinking so everyone on the team can see it and make decsions based upon it. Remember than models are still an interim document. They are tools. Think “useful” not precious. Update as needed. The affinity diagram comes straight out of analysis sessions. Personas are one of the most intelligible research outputs for people throughout the organization.
In summary Research creates a
shared understanding of reality. Asking questions is uncomfortable. Embrace that feeling. A truly collaborative approach and environment is necessary for research to be effective, and it also makes it more fun. Clear goals and good questions are required. Choose only the research activities that answer real questions and inform your top priority design and development decisions. Practice! Observe and listen every day. Document! Report! Share! It’s easy to lose what you learn.
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