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29 January 2011

Difference between an Image Board and a Product Research Section

I have seen many students naming pages of their design journal 'Image Board' that should have been more appropriately titled as 'Product Research' instead.

A page that is filled with images of products with critiques, comparisons, comments, etc. around them and then titled 'Image Board' do not really match, does it? Does 'Product Research' sound more direct and relevant?

What is an 'Image Board'?
More widely known to show target users (target audiences/groups).

1) Usually targeting a specific group of users (e.g. teenage girls, elderly man above 70 years of age, etc.)

2) Decorated with photographs and images that best describe everything about them. (e.g. lifestyle, culture, trends, objects of desire like iPhones and iPads, colorful headphones, designer bags, etc, activities or things that are defined cool, hangouts, etc).

3) A good image board is as good as a well-drawn mind-map around the theme. You could almost identify a few good design opportunities just looking at them.

An example of an image board is shown  above showing the life and lifestyle of elderlies in Singapore. Note that the target users are deliberately Asians. If not all of them should be Singaporeans.I've not just included various possible activities that a typical Singaporean elderly may engage in, I've also categorised the images so that I can tell a story as I move around the collage. Can you identify the flow?

How do I know if I have covered enough?
Ask: If someone wants a good understanding of my target group, what questions would he ask? Have I provided enough images to answer his questions?

A 'Product Research' Section

Product research on the other hand is concerned with... products. And that depends too on what product you are focusing on. And what aspect of those products you want to find out or highlight. The following are some common objectives of doing product research:

1) to understand historical trend and how the product has evolved in terms of forms and functionality.
2) to understand a product, or to compare two or more products in terms of forms, innovation, cleverness in terms of functionality, etc.
3) to investigate how a product work and what made it work.

The product research section would be filled with images, probably a couple of them to show various views and stages of use, and peppered with meaningful annotations to record your findings, observations and comments that reflects your objectives.

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