The big research question is what you want to know, not what you ask in an interview. In fact, asking your research question directly is often the worst way to learn anything. People often don’t know or are unwilling to admit to their true behaviors, but everyone is really good at making up answers.
If you honestly reflect on who you are, what you’re good at, and where you feel that you aren’t good enough, it will only help you to grow. Having fears that you aren’t doing a good enough job means that you care. Use it as an opportunity to seek out people and companies that can help you address the areas you are concerned about and fear being ‘found out’.
If design is communication, then it’s natural that the idea of story should be central to all our design work. Story is what binds the scenario to the vision. It’s what binds the design to the code. Without a story, we can overemphasize the tiny details and underemphasize the role those details have in the product.
The reality is, what you’re designing is going to be used in a messy, complicated world and it’s going to do something larger than itself. If you’re focused on glorifying and perfecting the idea alone, you’ll miss out on a wider understanding of what it is and could be. Good design research is proactive, not reactive. It shouldn’t focus solely on usability or validating the one idea, but instead on exploring the full range of possibilities to land on the best idea.
Managers are often referred to as needing shit umbrellas to protect their team from unnecessary crap in an organisation. This is true. But be careful not to over protect your team. If you do, they will never learn and grow from their own mistakes. Everyone needs to get slightly splattered with poop at certain points in their career. Just make sure you support them through this difficult time.
Having more people who do design is additive, not competitive. These designers make your team and your product stronger, because they’re contributing from their unique perspectives. Help them bolster their skills, and use their expertise to the advantage of your product and company.
We can’t solve a problem until we understand it. That means we need to study it. That means we need to talk to your current customers, your potential customers, and we need to talk to your employees. Once we understand the problem together, then we can begin to design solutions for it. Every hour we spend on research saves us ten hours down the road. So no, you’re not saving any time by attempting to cut it. Just stop.
Fieldwork, going to the places where people are living their lives to conduct research, is where we start to really connect with people. We learn about who they are, participate in their activities, and uncover their needs. We witness emotional responses, body language, context, and their use of space. By connecting with individuals in the field, we’re able to collect their stories and perspectives. We learn things like testing for diabetes often makes people feel guilty and sick and provides a disincentive to test. We learn how people with mental illness can live productive and full lives and are often shamed only by the stigma others associate with it. We learn how people lose faith in their ability to retire, and as a result, don’t bother contributing to a savings plan. Creating empathy with respondents requires more than listening to them, and more than simulating their lives. By interpreting the world through the lens of their values, history, religion, and culture, we can begin to design for them with them in mind.