This week we bring you our pressing topic of the moment straight from our reader-driven discussion boards! Core77 discussion board member Jacob Fleisher recently shared his own approach for evaluative design research. Jacob writes:
Getting research participants to articulate the "why" can be challenging in an evaluative session. And getting them to articulate what something "should be" is even tougher. I created a bunch of (50 or so) visual cards to help them evaluate existing products, services and messages, and to help them create new ones.
Here's a couple of pics of a few of 'em. I've found they help a lot.
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This card strategy is a great jump-off for a discussion regarding how designers get the answers they really need during design research for product development, as well as what they would even want to hear from these participants. After being asked why he would even bother trying to hear what consumers think a product "should be" like, Jacob said:
The "should be" question is always about something that is there, tangible, in front of them. I agree with your point - getting people to invent things and see the future is a poor path to developing something new. For making new things, I would begin with observational/ethnographic/contextual research (though that's not exclusive of course: new things can be made with no research as well).
Some designers prefer asking questions while others find it more helpful to simply observe behaviors instead of getting direct input. Core77-er iab writes,
Honestly, I gave up on "should be" years ago. I find it much easier to pose the question as "what's the problem?". Which then can easily be articulated by the design team to "what it should be".
And I would even go as far as saying you should ignore any respondent's "should be" answer. It is human nature to want to provide an answer instead of articulating the problem. The problem is I need to get from A to B quicker. I need to get from A to B without taking a break. I need to get from A to C without stopping at B. You need to draw that out of your respondents. Given a choice, they will give you the answer, "I need a faster horse" instead of giving you the problem.
What strategies do you implement to get the answers you're looking for in an evaluative research study? When is it best to employ observational methods and in what circumstances are inquiry-based methods of research more appropriate?
Share your thoughts and design insights in the comment feed below!
(Also feel free to check out the original post and contribute on our discussion board!)