I believe in research-driven design.
To me, design research is more than just taking notes – it's showing empathy, finding patterns in complex relationships, and giving agency to everyone involved in the design process.
Stay Clean and Flexible
I step into every design project making sure that I wash away all of my bias and assumptions. I also keep myself flexible – taking in both macro and micro viewpoints in the challenge space and not overly attached to one scale.
All Eyes and Ears (and then Ask!)
In the exploratory stage, I always advocate for observation first whenever the time and resources allow. After learning about the context, I am able to discover more latent needs during interviews.
Behavioral Mapping // Fly-on-the-wall Observation // Contextual Inquiry // Interview // Survey
Turn Information into Insights
All the research could be useless without proper synthesis. What are the key findings? How do we use them to drive the proposed design? I like to visualize the synthesis so both designers and stakeholders can have shared understanding of the challenge space.
Affinity Diagramming // Cognitive Mapping
When in Doubt, Make and Test
Not only is prototyping a great way to get feedback on the design idea, it is also great way for me to learn through making the prototypes. Sometimes the making part can be messy, but I find it almost always worth it to get my hands dirty!
Experience Prototyping // Usability Testing
I like to design within a story because it brings in the larger context and the perspective of actors. Storytelling is also a great way to communicate the design concept to non-designers, which helps them give valuable feedback.
Persona Study // User Journey Mapping // Storyboarding
All Hands on Deck
It does not happen in every project, but I strive to work with all stakeholders (not just end users!) in the design process. Particularly in the public domain, I believe designers should give stakeholders as much agency and platform to co-design as possible.
Design Charettes // Participatory Design