Design Process
min read
September 20, 2021
February 5, 2020

Who came first, Design or Design Research? — Part 1

Who came first, Design or Design Research? — Part 1
Table of contents

This is a typical chicken and egg situation, does anyone still know who came first?

At your workplace, you might have to research to explain why do you need research. Wait, seriously? Who came first, the design or the research?

Is it worth carving out time for research? It's a difficult argument in the time of augmented reality and agile development in an era we’ve all learnt to value answers and fear questions and where we want to be perceived as having answers, not as knowing what questions to ask.

In this chapter, we’ll give an overview of why Design Research can create a better Design Process.

Design Research is not what starts on Google search and ends on a Wikipedia page. It's an analysation of what the users want. It's a process of systematic query based on observation from credible resources and experimentation of the same. The more inquisitive your research is the more reasonable your end product gets. Design research is an understanding that backs up design decision making of the product that hasn't reached the market yet.

Why do we need a systematic approach to research in Design?

Imagine if you are a lawyer, and a client comes to see you with a legal case of copyright infringement.

I'm no law expert, but I think a fair approach would be:

  • Letting your client share his side of the story.
  • Asking the client relevant questions regarding the case.
  • Researching within the bounds of the law.
  • Presenting the case with valid evidence and data.
  • Inform in case of decisions, changes, delays and setbacks.
  • Prepare the client for a trial and so on.

Without the right investigation, evidence and detailed research of the case that stands a chance might not reach lead to a fair judgement.

Jumping right to the product without understanding the client brief, the target audience or the end-user, competitor landscape, product-related trends and analysing the data that's collected, your design process will be mostly guesswork. Overall it will be an inefficient way to design.

design research by team

The right use of time through Design Research saves time and efforts at the end. It paves way for reasonable and logical answers from the start of your presentations to the end of your product.

Systemic research helps you understand the below dynamics.

  • Understanding the client's brief, expectations and timelines.
  • Understanding that there is a competition and who are your real competitors.
  • Getting a detailed insight of the end-user.
  • Brand Voice and identity.
  • Primary solutions and secondary solutions.
  • Use case.
  • Product life cycle.

Good designers are systems-thinkers and should embrace the ways that design research influences the broader product ecosystem. It overtones the degree to which design and designers are believed while understanding the people for whom they design most importantly design research answers the very fundamental questions that come across during the design process.

Problems? What are the boundaries of problems? Solutions? What is the correct product or service to design? what should we focus on? What characteristics should it have, and is it working as intended?

Research doesn’t need to be scary, intimidating, or something that consumes a lot of your time without giving out any concrete results. Design Research is an indispensable part of the design process with some forethought and logistical planning research can be conducted within and outside the team parameters.

Expect next part soon!

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