As a reminder, you are reading this article as a part of the 4I’s series:
- Whatever The Approach, It’s a 4I’s!.
- The 4Is – Introduction to Inspiration.
- The 4Is – Introduction to Ideation.
- The 4Is – Introduction to Implementation.
- The 4Is – Introduction to Iteration.
Research, Yeah. We aim to understand the real reasons behind the problem. Not the visible one, in-depth, we need to understand the ideas stand behind any problem we study. Even if it looks straightforward, may there is a great design opportunity stands behind it.
Through the research stage, usually, we do interviews to understand & meet the end-users. Yes, I mean sometimes we need to meet the end-user in-person to build this kind of human communications which will make the problem more visible and brighter than ever at some point. That also will help us to choose the right solution at the ideation stage next.
There are many different methods which you can use in the research phase. Depend on the nature of the project. You can choose the right techniques (method) to use. Since there is nothing ultimately right or wrong.
You should be aware at least by all the methods, and to gain the experience you need, you should read about the best practices and also do it your self. Even if it’s not an official project, to gain the knowledge you should try it on your own.
To work with the inspiration methods in the best way, you should know who are Other Facilitators, Participants, and their experiences, and you should somehow find the best way to extract all possible helpful information.
Personally, For qualitative data, I like this kind of methods which touch the users in-person, such as Cultural Probes, Contextual inquiry, Contextual Design, etc. But always remember that you should approve the qualitative research data insights by numbers, through the Quantitative research, different methods. There are many other methods, which you could discover through The 4I’s – Methods, it contains the international methods of design – where you could know more and more about design practices in general. I think it will help. You could filter it by design stage as well.
There are Five key-elements as a research output; in the best case you should be able to collect them all. And here they are:
- Interaction personas with Use Cases.
- Design challenges, Opputriunies & HMW Cards.
- Quantitative Data.
- Desk research insights.
- Collected Content Documents.
- Business Documents (business model, value proposition model).
- Service Blueprint.
In most of the cases No.5 is already there, you should only ask stakeholders to give you its access. Next, we will dig deeper into each element.
1.Interaction Personas & User Stories:
Interaction personas focus instead on the touchpoints and the user’s mental state and context in these specific moments, pinpointing crucial elements that could help to improve the product.
It’s a very effective way to explore the possibilities and the real value behind any functions or actions, it will lead you to not only improve the experience, but it will also give you the ultimate ability to humanize the experience as well. You should read “Interaction personas: why, what, and how” on medium to know more about it and how you can use it.
Even if the previous template looks good, but I think it still needs more information to be added, at least highlights out of persona. So I created this version which I’m usually using, and it did not have any difference in the core, I just added some information which I like to see, and changed some titles as well.
The information you collect should be out of the user group, not only individually. I guess you already know. But, why it’s essential to have such a template?
- To be more familiar with your users.
- To Know the context of the action.
- To feel the pain points of your users.
- To know the environment of the actions.
- To imagine the entire situation.
- To be able to use The Hooked template.
- To know how to measure the Fogg Behavior Model.
- To imagine the “User-Stories” more realistically. I Recommend Those articles for you:
- User Stories: As a [UX Designer] I want to [embrace Agile] so that [I can make my projects user-centered]
- User Stories: An Agile Introduction
- 10 TIPS FOR WRITING GOOD USER STORIES By Roman Pichler
- User Stories by Atlassian
2.Design challenges, Opputriunies & HMW Cards:
That’s the primary value of the product, the problems we need to solve, the opportunities we may cover, and the questions we need to answer.
There are two ways you could follow to cover all the information you need: first is by breaking down the product features and go through it one by one. The second way is by dividing the users into groups and start to cover their needs. The second way is so easy and straightforward, but for the first one you should know at least the fundamentals of conceptual design, and here is a research document by professor Danial Jackson “Towards a theory of conceptual design for software,” it will help you to unleash the compacity of this task. Another point to discover is the task-centered design; it will help you also to identify the different information the best way. That’s not everything; there is more and more of methods, concepts, and activities you will notice its significant impact through your career path.
For the output template of design challenges, Opputriunies & HMW Cards. There is nothing wrong or right. Personally, I like to use post-it cards with different colors based on the priority of each one.
What makes your product different is not only the ease of use or any design principles. It’s Wow-Factors. And that’s why it’s crucial to keep some features in a specific category with this title. During the research phase, we discover all the needs and functions. In many cases, we find unique design opportunities; it’s uniqueness may because of the competitor’s weakness, may because we could implement something new or we could give the users a delightful experience. anyways, it’s that kind of features where your users will say, “Wow!”
There are three responses to a piece of design – yes, no, and WOW!
4. Desk research insights:
It’s vital to have a more in-depth look & understanding of your competitor’s weakness and power points. You should actually at least preview the history of your competitor’s different versions and updates. To avoid building something similar to an old version of your competitor, and you will be able to understand the reasons why they changed from the beginning.
In desk research, you could have lots of data coming from different sources. Competitors analyzing, lighting demos, related design principles, case studies, and many kinds of quantitative data and extra, you should be ready to select and emphasize the most important ones.
5. Quantitative Data:
Design with qualitative data only will fall, today or tomorrow it will fail. If you are super lucky, it will succeed.
With quantitative data, you can measure the realisticness of your qualitative data. That will make you sometimes back and dig in deeper to get the right information, that will help you validate all the information you have, it will make you also understand the qualitative data more profound than ever.
I would like to have all the quantitative data visualized; you could use Tableau App for such output. And Your source of data could be any database with records, visits, orders, actions, etc.
6. Collected Content Documents:
During this stage, we should capture all the possible data, from many different Information sources. We should make sure that we have the most updated versions. It will help a lot in the next stages in many cases.
and here are some suggested sources:
- Ask Project stakeholders for references & sources at least.
- Check competitors and similar products as a source.
- Work to match your understandings with stakeholders.
- Collaborate it through an online channel with project mats.
Also, reading this sketch might clarify lots of points for you. Information Architecture by Krisztina Szerovay.
7. Business Documents:
It should be already there, at least those two documents (business model, value proposition model). As a designer, you are improving the product not only to be more usable but also to achieve the business goals with higher rates.
Design is about The impact you leave in people and its reflexion on the business goals.
8. Services Blueprint:
It’s not a must on this stage to figure out the service blueprint, since you may need to build a new one during the Ideation phase. But if there are any, for now, you should have it, since it will clarify for you and your team how the service As-Is situation a better way.
As a Designer it will help you to understand the marketing strategy through the awareness part, it will help you to understand the system powers deeply, and how it works, through exploring the service blueprint it’s easy to discover many of core service values and principles/process, and never forget to ask many Why’s.
Why It Matters?
As a designer, it’s essential to know how an entrepreneur thinks and works through his business journey and its different stages. You are helping him doing what he aims to do right now, and you must be surrounded with the same context and ideas.
Reading some articles will help, Medium contains thousands of articles about the entrepreneur in general, go and discover more.