Design & User Research

Design and user research lead to the catalysts that make innovation possible. Research helps us “defuzz” the front end of product development.

Early in the design process, insights into unmet needs expose opportunities. This is Generative Research. Evaluative Research plays a major role later on, when we test concepts using a variety of methods. Research drives distinct, effective decision-making and improvements at every juncture. 

Generative Research 

The goal of research at the front end, or beginning, of the product development process, is to understand customers’ needs, wants, and frustrations, and how they might be better served by a product or service. These generative research methods uncover tangible, useful information that quickly become opportunities.

Research Methods:

  • Ethnography and Observation: Our researchers embed themselves alongside users and stakeholders, gathering insights in context. Being there is powerful, because it allows us to see what people do – not just what they say they do.
  • Interviews: We conduct interviews in the context of use (in person) as well as remotely. Various technological methods – new ones are being introduced all the time – can be used to gather information when in-person is not possible.
  • Benchmarking and Competitive Analyses: We evaluate a client’s existing products and competitors’ products for performance and usability to get a sense of the market and what’s possible. Some competitive claims are not all they claim to be.

Projects benefit — both in effectiveness of solutions and eventual time to market — from a team’s designers and engineers discovering in real time the insights being gathered by their trained researcher colleagues.

Evaluative Research

The concept testing and usability testing we do throughout the product definition and development phases is part of our cross-disciplinary process, with continuous interplay between researchers, designers, and engineers. Our in-house research, design, prototyping, and testing capabilities result in rapid and effective improvements. Storyboards, simulations, models, and mockups are created, evaluated, and matured, leading to higher fidelity models and building confidence in the right solution.

Research Methods:

  • Human Factors Evaluation: With deep knowledge of human factors and ergonomics, we act as advocates for the end user while critiquing a design. This is often a good place to begin updates to an existing design or to evaluate the competition.
  • Simulated Use: Once a prototype is available, representative users explore product use in individual sessions guided and observed by usability professionals. User feedback and observed behavior form the basis of this analysis.
  • Comparative Testing: When the development team is struggling to choose between two or more design concepts, representative users are recruited to evaluate and compare multiple prototypes. This technique also works well if the goal is to compare a new design to a predecessor or a competitive product.

Evaluative research is especially vital for mission-critical, Rugged & Portable, and Medical Products where safety, efficacy, and performance can be a matter of life or death. The rigorous approach we’ve established for developing products in these specialty categories informs our consumer work. Similarly, our focus on usability and user experience for consumer products rubs off on our Medical Products development.

Ask us what research can do for you. Explore the opportunities.

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