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25 January 2011

Research - Various Forms of Research

The above mind-map shows you RESEARCH in different forms which you can use.

The most common and useful in my opinion would be

1) 'Observation'
Nothing beats experiencing the situation first hand and witnessing them.

2) 'Shadowing'
'Shadowing' is somewhat similar to 'observation'. The difference is in 'shadowing', the person doing the work (or using the product) is aware of your presence while you watch, observe and record the acts or processes.

3) 'Narration'
'Narration' is an extension of 'shadowing'. This time the 'shadower' gets the user to 'narrate' (say) out loud what he is thinking while using the product. 

That includes the procedures of using the product, thoughts and wishes (e.g. saying out loud the *thinking*. 'I wished the knob could be larger with more texture cause its making turning difficult') while using the product. etc.

4) 'Experimentation'
Once again nothing beats doing things on your own. Instead on relying on third party experiences, personally getting a piece of frustrations (bugs) while actually performing the acts can be very valuable research.

5) 'Asking the five Whys'
'Asking the five Whys' is an excellent tool to get to the root of a problem. There are too many occasions that students 'think' they found a 'problem' that needs a 'solution'. Unfortunately most of what they 'thought' is a 'problem' were actually not the real problems. 

When you use the five 'Whys' you get to the root of the problem and the problem that you first thought was a problem no longer is the problem. Using the five 'Whys' on your initial identified 'problem' might lead you to other areas of needs that requires a totally different product solution.

6) 'Survey'
'Survey' is a research tool many would be familiar. It is also one of the least useful tool in my opinion unless questions are carefully crafted and the data collected is genuine and truly reflects the objectives of the survey. 

Getting real people with the relevant product experience for survey feedbacks, people who would take time to provide authentic opinions to your questions is very important but that rarely happens. If you think you want to 'doctor' the survey to reflect what you want it to reflect... forget it.

I've briefly described six different research methods. These research methods will be used extensively throughout your design journey. As each research method is unique in it's purpose, strength and limitations, it depends on the skill of the researcher to optimize each research method and to select the most appropriate research method to best serve his research need.

Finally, the most important thing about design journaling:


I call that engaging in a 'dialogue' with your journal. You got to record your design process, your research methodology and your thoughts on paper. Note: Recording could be in the form of on-location photographs and images, developmental sketches and annotations.

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