What are the biggest trends in design research in 2017? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
What are the biggest trends in design research in 2017?
We reached out to the entire IDEO design research community for help answering this one! Some of our answers could be considered trends, some are tried-and-true methods inside of IDEO along with great resources from years of experience in design research. But before we dive in, here are 2 things I try to never lose sight of: Knowing that design research is as much about inspiration as it is about information. And also, while many people new to design research want to follow a step-by-step methodology, these days, it’s about faster loops of insight, fuel, rapid prototyping, and feedback. It’s more about cycles and constant iteration and less about following a long and rigorous discovery phase.
And with that, here’s a sampling of answers from IDEOers around the globe. (Special thanks to Ovetta Sampson, Dan Perkel, Michael Chapman, Samantha Miller, Rebecca Wint, Alana Murao, Mike Peng, Geoff Schwarten, Erin Bogar, Saige Perry, and Katie Clark for their contributions!)
- Going Rogue: Influenced by Jan Chipchase and The Field Study Handbook, the “pop-up studio” model for doing design research in challenging, less-explored environments is one trend we’ve seen done successfully. Chipchase describes a pop-up studio as, “a live/work space optimized for teams working toward a shared goal...highly suited to international research, design, and innovation projects that require speedy immersion.” He talks more about the pop-up studio model in this Co.Design piece (and excerpt from The Field Study Handbook), “How To Great Design Research Anywhere On Earth.”
- Hybrid research: It’s important to combine a depth in qualitative research with the right kinds of quantitative data. Here’s a great piece by Arianna McClain and Rohini Vibha on using data to inspire design that goes deep on this topic. And here’s another fantastic piece by Johannes Seeman on Hybrid Insights.
- Smart Sensors: Though not all out in the market yet, looking at how smart sensors (from FitBits to smart moodmetric rings) can help inform our understanding of users' experiences—projects like MIT's Dermal Abysslook into a future of smart, sensing tattoos.
- Changes in Data + Privacy: With the GDPR, changes to data privacy in the EU and beyond means design researchers have to address these in a human-centered way, both in how research is designed and in terms of how that's communicated to participants.
- Digital tools for design research: This list from my colleague Dan Perkelis a few years old, but most are still very useful and relevant tools.
- Talk to people outside of your comfort zone and keep your team accountable by mapping their interviews.
- Using virtual and mixed reality platforms for storytelling, concept testing, and prototype delivery: Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are uniquely experiential and portable, allowing you to visualize complex ideas and measure user engagement in new ways. You can fully immerse users in an experience, get their reaction, and help them co-design (or redesign) an environment or experience on the spot using mixed reality prototypes. And now ARkits allow you to fully transplant a VR experiment with optical calibration—which allows you to retain the spatial boundaries and physics of a VR-created space anywhere on your phone. (Pretty incredible.)
- Design Research will continue to help inform and work alongside data science, especially machine learning and AI: Most of us at IDEO predict that data science will complement and enhance a deeper understanding of qualitative research. By expanding our reach into data science, we’ll be able to understand how our designs are being used during live prototyping and piloting. Rather than relying exclusively on self-reported behaviors and stories, we’ll be able to collect actual data on interaction. But perhaps more interestingly than this, we’ll also be well-positioned to understand, qualitatively and quantitatively, how the new artifact is causing a ripple in the ecosystem in which it was placed. As we strive to create disproportionate impact in the world, we’ll now have insight into what’s successful and what’s impeding that impact. By introducing new areas of expertise into design research, such as legal design, policy design, infrastructure design, organizational design, behavioral economics, urban planning, macroeconomics, and more, we can begin to shift some of the fundamental underpinnings that can cause negative and adverse outcomes at individual, group, organizational, and societal levels. There are nascent examples of these trends beginning to emerge as a potential future state.
- Design Research is expanding to use intelligent tools such as machine learning to create parallel data and customer journey maps that will provide both aggregate and more customizable journeys for people. The idea is that you can augment the information you learn about people from ethnographic research methods—like interviews and diary studies—with mapping of real-time product and daily use data, to get a fuller picture of users and their motivation, attitudes, and beliefs. This goes deeper than just synthesis of survey data and into uncovering design opportunities by exploring big data sets to reveal previously unknown or unseen pain points, gaps in use, and even workarounds.
- Neuroscience x Design Research: One of our design researchers who studied cognitive neuroscience notes that there is a major connection between the brain and design—and so much that we still don't know about that connection. As we learn more, it will play an increasingly important role in design research. This Quartz article discusses how neuroscience can help us create more effective human-centered cities. “Technology has now reached the stage where we can translate decades of neuroscience and psychological research from the lab into the city,” says neuroscientist Dr. Hugo Spiers of University College London. Now when we test prototypes, we can measure behavior, cognition, emotional reactions, physiological markers, and brain activity. Here are a couple more articles on the subject, from Forbes and The Leading Strand.
- Digital Forensics x Design Research: As technology becomes more engrained in our daily lives, understanding how we live our digital lives—and the digital trail we leave as we go—will help unlock insights into new behavior.
- Expanding the ethical lens in the age of artificial intelligence: Artificial Intelligence (AI) changes interaction and design in a way that's dynamic and incredibly complex. Because of its scale, adoption speed, and widespread human impact, it's important that someone raise a hand and ask the question, "Even though we can create this, should we?" Not all AI models are transparent and design researchers will increasingly become the voice in the room questioning the development and creation of new technology. This isn't any different than what we do now, but it's more important in the age of AI.
- And speaking of ethics—respect, honesty, and responsibility: These are the principles that guide all of our work at IDEO. Design research pioneer Jane Fulton Suri authored and released a guide, free to download, called The Little Book of Design Research Ethics last year that covers everything you need to know about ethical design research.
This question originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions: