The Key to Extraordinary Evaluation
We believe in the benefit of extensive research throughout the entire new product design and development process – including investigating and evaluating the environmental, social and cultural impact of a given product from its inception and manufacture through its lifetime to its final disposal and recycling.
Data-as-a-Goal vs Data-as-a-Tool
A chasm exists between seeing data as a goal and data as a tool. Consider the following two models:
- With Data-as-a-Goal, you find out everything you can about a topic, and then explain what you learned.
- With Data-as-a-Tool, you first gather basic information about a topic, then identify an issue or problem related to that topic. You use the data you collect as a tool or means to attempt to solve the problem or issue. Its purpose is analysis, critical thinking and problem solving.
Properly investigating a topic requires formulating a solid question.
Asking simple research questions is best, though you’ll nevertheless need a great deal of analysis to find the answer. Complex questions require complex answers; the degree of your question’s difficulty determines the analysis needed to find an answer. Strive to clearly see the question’s answer in your mind as you struggle to solve it, despite setbacks you encounter, until you have solid evidence to support your scrutiny. Remember: always treat the evidence discovered as a means to uncover the solution rather than as the solution itself.
The key to genuine research is a good question that addresses a problem calling for analysis. Without posing a question, nothing you are doing can be called research.
Fundamentally, Data-as-a-Tool requires moving past simplistic tendencies to merely gather data, reorganize it and regurgitate it.
That posed question turns data into raw material needed to answer the question rather than the data being the end itself; in turn, more and more data becomes information used in the analysis of multiple data sources.
This research methodology bases itself on observing people in their natural environments, be they hospitals, fish factories or college campuses, rather than in formal research centers. Doing so allows you to immerse yourself in other people’s lives and witness patterns of behavior within real-world contexts. Most people engage in ethnography when people-watching at local shopping malls without knowing the term for their actions. Studying what people do rather than what they say they do provide a richer, more realistic overview of how people live, work and play.
Photo and Video Diaries
Thanks to smartphone and tablet app technology, using photo and video diaries is simple and commonplace, yet, for the design researcher, provides a highly effective means of collecting visually rich observational data. Such diaries offer fantastic, highly detailed insights into an individual’s experience with a product or activity. Photo and video diaries create the crucial advantage of helping to capture spontaneous and significant events and experiences in a person’s natural surroundings.
We provide such in-depth investigation for product design and development firms every time we tackle a project.