Join Andy Schwanbeck for an in-depth discussion in this video Making the most of your research, part of Foundations of Design Research.
- In this section we'll discuss what to do with your research data after you've collected it. The obvious thought is you use it to solve your problem. But in order to do so, there is an important step that involves revisiting what you've learned so that you can search for the most meaningful opportunities. Let's explore this idea of meaningful opportunities. Most research you do will generate immediate ideas for a design solution. These ideas are good, and they should be recorded, but they're the low hanging fruit, the most obvious thoughts, easiest answers, and they're probably not the most innovative or effective solutions.
To get beyond these obvious solutions, you have to go back through your research and closely analyze the information you've collected. Now you might think that this is the easiest part. You've done the work, you know what you know, and now all you need to do is take a glimpse back through it to refresh yourself. However, what you know is still somewhat unclear. Sure, you've learned some things from your research already, but there's a lot more there, and to get at it, you have to dig a little deeper. This chapter is about digging deeper into your research.
I'm gonna share a quote with you that I think sums this thought up nicely. "Design is not just about creating the dots. "It's about connecting the dots, therefore design "is becoming about designing relationships." Your research is full of relationships, and discovering them is one of the best ways to create more innovative and thoughtful solutions. This process of revisiting your research, which we'll call synthesis, is also vital to sharing your research. You likely have a design team, project managers, creative directors, clients, stakeholders, instructors, someone who has a vested interest in what you're doing.
Sharing what you've learned with those people allows everyone involved to understand the context of your research and be on the same page as you. But in order to share your findings, they have to be more than scribbled pages of notes, logs of thoughts and recorded data. They must be visual. They must make sense to others. Synthesis also adds viability to your design phase. Remember what you learned in chapter two. It's important to use the big points of your research, the deciding factors, the criteria for designs, to explain how and why you made the decisions you did.
This adds viability to your work and to the design profession as a whole. In the upcoming chapter, we'll look at a number of graphic organizers and experience models as ways to help to steer your research findings so that you can share you findings with project teams, so that everyone is working under a unified direction, share them with project stakeholders, the people who have hired you to solve their problem, to validate the direction of the project, find the most important and relevant information in your research to lead to potential design opportunities, and develop design criteria that can fuel your creative process.
These tools, just like many of the others we've discussed, are highly adaptable. In my own practice, I've modified a number of them to meet specific needs more than once. Take the time to practice them. You'll discover which ones work best for different problems, and will quickly realize how to best put them to use. The big idea is to remain adaptable and flexible as you learn to work with these tools. And remember, they're designed to help yourself and help others understand your research, and the find the best opportunities to solve your problem.
- Using research to add value and credibility to design work
- Understanding the different types of research
- Choosing research tools
- Creating a research plan
- Presenting research
- Using research to begin the design process