The image below is my attempt to make sense of everything; but it is not as regimented as this image would suggest. The overall process is very much a ‘back and forth’ between information gathering, information analysis, idea generation and idea analysis. I would then use the research, explore, focus and finish stages to gauge my progress within the project to ensure I meet the deadline.
A lot of research has to take place to understand the context. This is often the part of a project nobody sees but can be really interesting and, as you may notice, the research continues the whole way through the project. Researching is simply information gathering and information analysis and this information is what informs my decisions.
Secondary Research is where I usually start gathering information and journals, mind mapping, sketching and surveys are a good way to get the ball rolling. I like to start my research with a broad scope to try and identify as many opportunities as possible.
Primary Research is your chance to meet and interact with the people involved. As a people watcher, I love this part, and it is the best opportunity to empathise. There are many ways of conducting primary research from simple interviews to more complicated model making and user trials. This gives me the chance to put myself in someone else’s shoes, and to create and test my concepts in real life.
Research Methods for Product Design by Alex Milton & Paul Rodgers is a great book for more information on researching and the Design Kit by Ideo.org has loads of great information on a human-centred design approach.
This is the stage I would begin my idea generation. I take what information I have already gathered and analyse it to see where there are opportunities and this is the part of the project that I believe places real value on the outcome. I am no longer just researching but thinking of solutions, interventions or reacting to the inspiration within the research. I like to get down as many ideas as possible through sketching and rough models at this stage to get feedback from peers and stakeholders as to which concepts look most promising.
Idea analysis is generally the theme at this stage and much of my concentration is now focused on a few ideas, rather than many, so I can develop them further. As a tool of analysing and evaluating my ideas, I would take my research analysis, feedback and my own personal opinion to plot the ideas within IDEO’s own Venn diagram shown below. This method of assessing and reassessing my ideas gives me the confidence to take them forward.
The final stretch! Everything will be coming together, in terms of product development, at this point and I will be putting the final touches on prototypes, photographs and renders etc. and usually the final task on hand is implementation. Getting the idea from project stage and into peoples lives.
So that’s it. Have a look at my portfolio to see how I put this into action and don’t forget to look at my research reports to see all of the background research and development.