design research

Doing Design Research in a Cognitive World

panelists
EPIC2017 Platinum Panel Moderated by: CHRIS HAMMOND (IBM) Panelists: MARK BURRELL (IBM), MELISSA CEFKIN (Nissan Research Center), CHRISTIAN MADSBJERG (ReD Associates) & DAWN NAFUS (Intel) Overview Increasingly, experiences are being created that incorporate augmented intelligence, promising to make us smarter, more efficient, and more effective. Doctors can recommend more comprehensive personalized treatment plans, teachers can provide lesson plans tailored to individual students, and farmers can vary crop irrigation and fertilization cycles in response to predicted weather patterns. Human capabilities (some might say intelligence) are being augmented, aided by machine learning algorithms that interpret and find meaning in vast quantities of both structured and unstructured data. This panel addresses challenges of doing design research in a cognitive world where predictive analytics, conversational interfaces, and augmented intelligence are core aspects of the technology solutions being designed. What skills...

Developing Empathy through Research: Martha Cotton, A Profile

By ALANNAH BERSON How do you make 1000 designers better at research while ensuring quality and rigor at the same time? This is the kind of challenge Martha Cotton gets tackle at work everyday as Group Design Director for Research at Fjord—and as the newest member of the EPIC Board. “If we are going to deeply understand the people we are designing for, I’m passionate about helping my design colleagues get that understanding in the best and most efficient way. It is definitely a very fun part of my job, thinking about elevating how we do design research, and creating the tools and resources to support roughly 1000 designers around the world in their efforts to be better researchers.” One of the reasons Martha is so passionate about mentoring and teaching future researchers is that for her, becoming an ethnographer was a bit of an accident. “I was incredibly lucky early on to have the support of mentors who patiently nurtured what has turned out to be my life’s work.” This “accidental career” that Martha found...

Semiotics: A User’s Guide to Seeing Differently

In this course, you’ll learn how to use the deep insights of semiotics as a powerful tool for innovation, design, communications, and brand strategy. Instructors: CATO HUNT & JAMES WOODHEAD, Space Doctors Enrollment: 20 max Schedule: 7 live online sessions, winter 2019 schedule TBA Registration: $500 (See Terms) Registration opens soon for the winter 2019 session! To…

Tell Me Why You Did That: Learning “Ethnography” from the Design Studio

ANNEMARIE DORLAND University of Calgary This paper questions the role and form of ethnography in the studio setting through a comparative analysis of interviews with service and brand designers, and the promotional rhetoric of the studio organizations in which they work. It proposes that the way in which designers practice ‘ethnography’ consists of an adapted and hybrid methodological approach based not on theoretically informed data collection, analysis and interpretation, but instead of an assemblage of embodied research approaches. The ways in which designers substitute proxy audience membership, performance and praxiography for traditional ethnographic methods in their creative work and their acts of negotiation between the structural expectations of the studio organization and their own practice of cultural production are considered. Keywords: Design Ethnography, Design Research, Methodology, Practice...

How ‘Doing Ethnography’ Fostered Collaboration in Two Organizations

DANIELA CUARON Empathy Case Study—This case study discusses the role ethnography played in fostering collaboration across two organizations during a research project. It explores how the opportunity for collaboration emerged, why it was seized upon, and what it meant for the project. The case study looks at the project challenges and mishaps and clarifies why in spite of this it is believed to be successful. It analyses the impact on people's perceptions of the project outcome and what this meant for our client. Keywords: organizational culture, agency collaboration, design research, government...

Empathizing with the Mind of a Child

ARI NAVE The Kind’s Indian, Inc. Download PDF PechaKucha—Empathy is an indispensable tool in design. But poorly executed, the application of empathetic thinking can lead to worse results. When examined more closely, empathy is problematic both in concept and in practice. Deconstructed into the component parts — compassion, sharing and mentalizing — we can begin to explore the particular nuances of empathy. Beyond the incentives of the designer, compassion, successful empathy requires the user to be able to share their experiences with the designer. Translation and articulation limits of the user can make this difficult. Designing for a pre-verbal child, for example, is extremely difficult. Finally, mentalizing, the act of the designer creating a proxy of the user’s internal state, is problematic when they do not share the same cultural foundations or basic cognitive similarities. Designers are most facile when designing for people similar to themselves. But as design anthropologists, we are tasked with creating bridges...

How New Social Design Captures the Social with Photographs

ILPO KOSKINEN School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University New social design defines “the social” rather than material things as its main design object, and builds usually on ethnographic research techniques in capturing the social. Designers use camera in their fieldwork but unlike social scientists, they build their camera practices on a variety of sources, often artistic and journalistic rather than analytic. This paper explores how new social design captures the social with photographs. It shows that the main unit of social action in photography is the design act. Place on the other hand remains a non-analytic feature that conveys the sense of having been there, but does not go deeper into the social. The most analytic constructs in photographs are diagrams and other representations. Discussion links these observations into the professionalization of design and its aesthetic rather than analytic base....

Tutorial: Speculative Design – Futures Prototyping for Research and Strategy

Tutorial Instructors: J. PAUL NEELEY Neeley Worldwide & Royal College of Art ELLIOT MONTGOMERY Extrapolation Factory & Parsons School of Design Download PDF SUMMARY In our world where emerging technologies are increasingly a source of significant disruption in people’s lives, methods from Speculative & Critical Design (SCD) practice are finding their way into the designer’s and researcher’s toolkit as powerful ways to create new kinds of meaning and perspective that create new organizational value. These practices design future products and services not in a predictive way, but as a way to prototype and understand the social, cultural, and ethical implications of emerging technologies. These practices generally decouple design from short-term company product and market needs and visions, and engage in new conversations about alternative futures as a way to better understand and navigate future complexity. SCD often works to design for the messy and complex people that we are rather than the perfect consumers...

Empathy as Faux Ethics

adbusters image with text "me, myself, I"
by THOMAS WENDT, Surrounding Signifiers “The term ‘empathy’ has provided a guiding thread for a whole range of fundamentally mistaken theories concerning man’s [sic] relationship to other human beings and to other beings in general.” —Martin Heidegger Popular design discourse is full of articles, books, and conference presentations on the role of empathy in design. In both commercial and non-commercial settings, most designers argue the same thing: designers should attempt to build empathy for “users” so they can better design for them. But empathy as it’s generally practiced ultimately subverts its own goals. It tends to reinforce “otherness”, promote anthropocentrism, and ignore ecological considerations. Everyday Empathy I recently moved from Manhattan to Queens. My old neighborhood, NoLita (north of Little Italy…thanks, real estate agents), had fully gentrified, with storefronts quickly transforming into cold pressed juice bars ($10/cup) and men’s shaving supply stores ($25 “beard oil”). My...

Primate Pathmaking

JOHN DOMINSKI gravitytank CHRISTENA NIPPERT-ENG gravitytankDownload PDF PechaKucha—This presentation explores the 3 guiding principles for research to create impact: clarity, coordination, and curiosity. Without all these elements, research struggles to make impact for the intended users. In this case, the user is Jojo, a silverback gorilla. Jojo was 80 pounds overweight, and this was caused by a number of reasons. Every solution required a clear framing of the goals, a complex and coordinated effort from everyone involved, and a genuine curiosity to engage in the solutions. Keywords: gorilla, silverback, clarity, coordination, curiosity, observation John Dominski – I am a design researcher at gravitytank in Chicago, IL. I believe the purpose of research is to make impact and I practice doing this at gravitytank and as a co-author and photographer of Gorillas Up Close. 2016 Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference Proceedings, p. 553, ISSN 1559-8918, https://www.epicpeople.org...

“It’s just watching. But it’s billable”: The Challenges and Possibilities of Design Ethnography in Practice

by ANNEMARIE DORLAND, University of Calgary Design ethnography—the term rings with power and potential. Now widely promoted on design studio and agency websites as a core capability, it suggests the melding of design-thinking and interpretive analytical approaches to understanding how people create and make sense of their worlds. But behind the pitch, what are designers doing when they do ethnography? How do they understand the research work they do, their field, their data? When I ask designers about how they conduct ethnography, I hear things like, “It’s just watching them, but it’s billable.” Or, “Oh the Jane Goodall thing! We kind of do that.” And even, “Is that even a thing anymore? Isn’t that from, like, with islanders?” I’ve finally perfected a neutral, non-judgmental facial expression to present to designers who tell me in interviews that they really don’t have a clue what ethnography is—and these are creatives with ‘design ethnographer’ in their bio, designers who are tasked with conducting...

Scaling Empathy through IBM Design Research

by CHRIS HAMMOND and JESYKA PALMER, IBM Design Research As consultants we practiced the basics of design thinking and user centered design for years with a range of organizations. However, upon joining IBM and learning to apply the IBM Design Thinking mindset, we both realized this way of working differed from our past experiences. This difference is largely expressed by the addition of “the Keys” or IBM’s way to scale design within a large, geographically disparate organization. As researchers and strategists, the most resonate Key is Sponsor Users. A real challenge for enterprise and healthcare programs is access to users and their environment—rarely can you approach a hospital and ask if you can walk into an operating room with cameras and notepads in hand. In the healthcare space, we overcame the challenge by creating partnerships with clinicians and hospitals. These relationships brought clinicians onto our teams and closed the expertise gap. Clinicians shared with us a day in their lives and showed us their struggles...

Leaving the Bed of Procrustean Experience: On the Need for Ethnography

by MICHAEL THOMAS, Ford Motor Company User Experience (UX) Research and Design is a dynamic and diverse domain where designers, social scientists, and hybrids of all sorts are putting theory to work. It has successfully advanced a more holistic framing for human-centered design intervention, ideally keeping our attention on the user as the key unit of analysis at every stage. But we’re also discovering that herein lie potential opportunities for further refinement. UX has familiar practical limitations, and we debate these continually—the best way to measure, how to communicate, appropriate sampling, sample size, methods, protocols, metrics, and so on. Its fundamental limitations, by contrast, are inherent theoretical assumptions and biases. It is critical to innovate at this level of UX’s underlying principles; to move beyond the generally unspoken assumptions that the user is necessarily an individual and that the user’s perceptions about discrete temporally and spatially bounded experiences are authoritative. As a case...

The Trouble with Job Titles: Getting beyond Buzzwords in a Shifting Employment Landscape

charlie chaplain's modern times
by MARTHA COTTON, GARY GEBHARDT, TRACEY LOVEJOY, ABBAS JAFFER — and you! How have professional skills & requirements for ethnographers and other human-centered researchers changed over the last 10 years—and where are they headed? How can you evaluate the confusing terrain of position titles and descriptions, as well as assess the organizations offering them? Post your questions, insights & ideas! This week, 1–4 December, join the EPx Forum for a free, online discussion with Martha, Tracey, Gary & Abbas. How to join: sign in or create a free account, then visit EPx Forum and click subscribe here Introductions Martha Cotton, Partner, gravitytank Back in the mid-90s when I was at eLab, researchers went through a brief period where our business cards said “Understander.” As a word, it fit to describe what I did for a living. But as a job title to communicate my role to others outside of my small ethnographer community, it was very hard to, well, understand. I have a memory of handing my business card to...