Join Andy Schwanbeck for an in-depth discussion in this video Utilizing research to begin the design process, part of Foundations of Design Research.
- Making the leap from researching to designing can sometimes be a difficult transition. Research has a way of feeling imposing or even limiting, especially when you begin to explore design solutions. I know that for me I can feel trapped by my research and I have a hard time opening back up to wild and creative solutions. I think this is because I'm afraid that I'll let go of my research and might end up making some kind of subjective decision. It's a delicate balance to find. As we've said before, a good design process starts by thinking big and then becomes more and more narrow, eliminating and combining ideas into more feasible solutions.
In this video, I'll share some methods that I use to help me think big and also some ones that I wanna focus and determine what's best. Any good brainstorming session always starts with a clear problem. John Dewey says it best in this quote, "A problem well stated is half-solved." So, make sure you take a step back and review Chapter 5 in case you need a quick reminder on how to generate an effective problem statement. Let's start with this statement. We need to improve the train station's ticketing service to function more efficiently.
Now let's consider generating some design criteria. A good set of design criteria should work to direct how you can creatively approach your problem and provide some sense of boundaries for your initial thinking. It should also act as a benchmark for success when you begin to evaluate which ideas to move forward with. Let's create a list of criteria for our train station problem. Ticketing needs to take 5 minutes or less. Shorten line-length at ticket counters. Integrate the use of smart phone technology. The visual system that should support an international audience.
Okay, so this information should come from a synthesis of research. Likely, this information is generated from a collection of experience models, graphic organizers, and other synthesis tools that you've used to analyze your research. One important element to keep in mind when writing design criteria is to make them specific enough to guide the design process and open enough to encourage exploration. So, we're trying to brainstorm ways that we can make the train station's ticketing system more efficient. We know that in order to do so out solutions need to be quicker than the existing system.
Be usable by international passengers and may integrate smart technology into the process. If we start there, it's fairly easy to remain open and creative and begin thinking of ideas for solutions. I tend to begin the process of brainstorming or thinking of my ideas in a variety of ways depending on my comfort level with the problem. Sometimes I might jump right in to sketching ideas as they pop right into my head and other times I might feel like I could benefit from something like a mind map to help me build ideas and organize my thoughts a bit better.
It really just depends and there are a lot of great tools out there to use. One of my favorite sources for inspiration is Ellen Lupton's Graphic Design Thinking: Beyond Brainstorming. Before you begin any type of brainstorming process let me share a couple of ground rules that I always try to stick by. Visualize. We're visual people so quickly sketching and mapping out ideas is a must. Sketching should be just enough to communicate an idea. Don't let yourself get caught up in making every detail. You might also use additional visuals to help brainstorm and build on ideas, such as a mind map.
There is no bad idea. Early in the process, your goal is to get all of your ideas out. Liberate yourself momentarily from the limitations of your research and think creatively. This is very important. Pieces and parts of those off the wall ideas may very well come back to inform a more feasible solution later in the process. Embrace getting stuck. If you run out of ideas, take a break. Change techniques and revisit your design criteria. Sometimes I just need some fresh air or a change of pace.
I might take a walk, leave my desk, work on something else for a little while. I guarantee when you return you'll have a fresh perspective. When you have some ideas that you're feeling good about use your design criteria to begin to narrow down your concepts. You may also find opportunities to combine ideas together, or to use two ideas and create an entire new one. Once you successfully identified some potential ideas, we can then go on to build mock ups and working prototypes in order to test them with actual users.
In the next section, we'll talk more about generative research and building on the protoypes and what you need to do in order to test them.
- 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