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  • Writer's pictureQuite Frankly

What's Your Method of Design?

This week's lectures and readings reached further into various design methods and research. In "The Importance of People", Piantella points out the differences between secondary research and primary research. Secondary research is online research, literature research, case study research, etc, and primary research is described as surveys, polls, interviews, focus groups, observations, etc. Primary research allows you to research and learn directly from the source. You can ask questions, observe, and design an experiment or game. I'm mostly interested in immersing myself in different communities and gathering information this way. It encourages you to fully interact and not only study everything around you but the ways you react to your surroundings as well.

Piantella also lists 5 research methods which are described in further detail in Hanington & Martin, Universal Methods of Design Selection I. These methods are

  • Observational Methods: Fly on the wall, Shadowing, Behavioral Mapping

  • Interrogative Methods: Interviews, Contextual Inquiry, Think around

  • Self-reporting Methods: Surveys, Diary Studies, Cultural Probes

  • Activity-Based Methods: Creative tool kits, Affinity diagrams

  • Performative Methods: Directed storytelling, love letter, break-up letter, roleplaying

All of these methods challenge your creativity and reasoning for what would make the most sense for your product. The cultural probes were very interesting in that I hadn't realized how in-depth, creative, and detailed you could be when using a research method. Before this course, I imagined research as mainly reading papers online, from experts, or experiments derived from studies in a lab. Now I'm thinking of research through the eyes of a designer and that opens up a different realm.

In the reading "Cultural Probes" by Gaver, Dunne, and Pacenti, we get to see this method used in three groups and their responses. The Cultural Probes were designed carefully so it was inspiring but not leading and allowing for free-flowing thought but not in a way that led the research astray from the goal. I enjoyed reading through the thought process of the researchers in that they were aware of how the method needed to be altered to meet generational gaps and carefully tried to more stereotypes of the older generation for a more genuine approach. It was interesting that even though all three groups seemed genuinely inspired or intrigued by the cultural probe that the responses in return were different. This response was not met by disappointment from the researchers but as important information to include in the final product based on the different lifestyles and environments of each group. It helped to delineate between the needs of each group: Bijlmer, Oslo, and Peccioli.

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