2. The Project’s Methodology

Credit: Green Chameleon

Research framework and process

In this project, I combined a human centered framework and a design thinking process.

Human Centered Design

Human centered design is an approach that starts with a deep research around the needs and dreams of the user, trying to understand their behaviours in order to create a solution that is desirable for them, technically feasible and viable for business (IDEO, 2011).

Human Centered Design, Ideo, 2011

There are many tools and methods to facilitate this, like interviews to develop empathy, observation to understand behaviours, prototyping to test and iterate, and iterate, and iterate. According to IDEO, being a human centered designer means that you believe that the user holds the solution to his problem and your role will be to understand and serve his actual needs.

Design Thinking

When it comes to Design thinking, it is a strategy making process that adopted a human centered design approach. It applies tools from the design world to drive innovation (Brown, 2008). The British Design Council has developed a commonly used image to explain the process: the double diamond.

Double Diamond, Design Council, 2014

All along the project, I followed the steps of the double diamond. The problem definition phase being the one where I formulated my hypothesis. This process is iterative and not linear, one can go from define to develop and realize a need to go back to the discovery phase. This is what happened during this project and what I will go through in detail in a following chapter.

Research approach

Inductive an deductive

Inductive and deductive reasoning were used to investigate the points mentioned above. By moving between inductive and deductive thinking, an iterative process was achieved and performed.

After data collection and observation, conclusions were drawn and patterns noticed (Bilica and Flores, 2009) both on the use of frictions and frictionlessness. On the basis of those conclusions, first one, then two hypothesis were formed on the idea of using frictions as a tool for designers. Deductive thinking was used to test the principles that were initially found (Bilica and Flores, 2009). By using different levels of prototyping and methods of user testing that I will describe later in this chapter, I was able to find evidence to infirm one hypothesis. Coming back to research and inductive thinking, I formed a second hypothesis and confirmed it by testing it and gathering evidences of its usefulness.

Both primary and secondary research have been used to feed the arguments of this paper.The focus has been made on qualitative research. It is a type of research that produces findings by other methods than quantification, but rather focuses on people’s lives, experiences and behaviours (Strauss, Corbin, 2008). The reason for choosing qualitative research over quantitative method is motivated by the nature of the subject of the research. It is connected not only to design but also to psychology, philosophy and sociology. Therefore, in order to gain details and insights about emotions and thought processes, qualitative methods have been selected over more conventional research methods (Strauss, Corbin, 2008).

Secondary research

  • Academic articles from different fields: design as well as physics or psychology and philosophy in order to link the subject to a wider context and explore its implication beyond the design world.
  • Industry sources consisting of books from design legends, such as Don Norman or Jakob Nielsen, articles from trusted sources, like Fast Company or UX mag, and celebrated podcast like 99% Invisible.

Primary research

  • Interviews of 7 industry professionals. Service designers, Interaction designers, UX designers, Design researchers and Design Strategists. Most of them with more than 10 years of professional experience so that they would be able to provide relevant examples from their own practice and a high level of reflection on this practice.

Interviews are used to gather info about users. It allows for an in depth study of people in their context, an exploration of behaviours and their meaning, and a gathering of insights that will point towards a solution (Portigal, 2013). Interviews were used at an early stage in order to identify opportunities before I knew what to design. I used semi-structured interview to allow for more flexibility and leave space for other topics to be explored. A guide was built around different objectives I had regarding the interviews: 
- Gain an understanding of the vision of the participants on the frictionless trend
- Understand their opinion on frictions
- Gather use cases from their practice
- Explore different mapping tools they used in their design practice
 The data gathered by this method was analyzed to identify areas of interest and patterns in order to uncover opportunities and latent needs. 
(see interview guide in the appendix)

  • An analogous inspiration (Ideo, 2010): I chose to experiment frictions myself in the form the building of this thesis project. The idea is to take the subject focus — here frictions — but in a new context — here, not digital design but academic writing . It allows for the isolation of elements of an experience and for a gain in empathy and understanding of the users emotions and behaviours.

(Note that the methods behind the concept development, prototyping and iterating will follow in a relevant chapter, later in the paper.)


Design Council (2014) VIEW: What is Design and why it matters. Available at: http://www.thecreativeindustries.co.uk/uk-creative-overview/news-and-views/view-what-is-design-and-why-it-matters (Accessed: 9 October 2015)

Billiga, K. and Flores, M. (2009) ‘Inductive and deductive science thinking’, Science Scope, .

Brown, T. (2008) Design thinking. Available at: https://hbr.org/2008/06/design-thinking (Accessed: 21 March 2016).

Corbin, J.M. and Strauss, A.C. (2008) Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory. 3rd edn. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

IDEO, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation The and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (2011) Human-centered design Toolkit: An open-source Toolkit to inspire new solutions in the developing world. 2nd edn. United States: Authorhouse.

Ideo (no date) Stats. Available at: http://www.designkit.org/methods/6 (Accessed: 21 March 2016).

Portigal, S. (2013) Interviewing users: How to uncover compelling insights. United States: Rosenfeld Media.