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In order to find true, unbiased insights in your research that result in better products, you cannot work alone. Design research is not successful when it’s owned solely by Design. I’ll walk through how a collaborative design research practice can benefit all stages of research from planning to outcomes.

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We’ve come a long way

First, a look backwards. Research has not always been in the designer’s toolkit. According to Dan Formosa, Smart Design co-founder, back in the ’80s there was huge resistance to Design breaking in to the world of direct user interaction. Market research or consumer interaction belonged to Marketing. Renaming it “Design research” was met with resistance from designers who felt it was outside their skills and responsibilities.

Read Formosa’s full interview in Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits by Debbie Millman

Today, design research is often left totally on the plate of the designer. If you’re a design research unicorn, maybe you can handle that. I’ll walk through some ideas and best practices in case you are in fact human, like me, and you need support from other stakeholders to see the full picture and make the most of your limited time with real users. …


Design Thinking is a tool to tackle any problem involving people, their pain, and a brighter future. We put our users first, and let them guide our actions and outcomes. At IBM Kenexa, our product design and support teams collaborated to understand the pain around customer-facing mass communication. Our “users” became our customers and our own internal team as we sought to know what both camps value. Designers are encouraged in IBM to focus on all 6 experiences, with #6 being “Get Support.”

We’ve all had experiences with support teams, whether for better or for worse. Our goal was to find ways to change for the better. Our support team informs customers when system failures occur, and these issues come with frustration from the start. …


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What does Donald Trump do well? He cuts through the slew of words and plans enveloping the presidential race in an untangle-able mess. He says simple, understandable sentences with obvious kickers like…

I will build a great, great wall on our southern border and I will have Mexico pay for that wall. (watch for yourself)

While in the meantime, Clinton uses massive strings of prepositional phrases like this…

I think we need to go after a company like Johnson Controls that is trying to avoid paying taxes after all of us bailed it out by pretending to sell itself in a so-called inversion in Europe. …

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