Design, Develop, Create

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Exercise: Experiment with a research method

Copies of the research method protocol template. Use the template to structure your experiment with one or more of the research protocols based on the cards from IDEO.

Choose at least one protocol, but even better if you try more than one, if you have the interest or time available.
Identify an object or context for field work. Possible examples include:
  • Dublin Bus website 
  • ATM machine 
  • Train/LUAs ticketing 
  • Supermarket Self-service checkout machines 
  • Copier machines at the Copi-Print system 
  • Printer Card Top-up Machine in the Library 
  • Kindle or other E-reader 
  • BlackBoard (from student’s perspective) 
  • Alarm System 
  • Airport Self-service Checkin 
  • Tesco’s Online Shopping website 
  • UCD Library catalogue 
Schedule field study observations over several days.

  1. Write your name and the research context on the form
  2. Investigate and propose your own version of the procedure for the research method assigned to you. Base this procedure on readings or your own creative extrapolation of the description on the IDEO methods card.
  3. Conduct a trial run of the procedure on yourself first, then involve another willing participant, and another...
  4. Make hand-written notes, photos and recordings for later analysis.
  5. Keep a record of evidence gathered.
  6. Make an archive of data/records (paper sketches and notes, digital folder, website).
  7. Present your findings and analysis at the next class.

In class discussion of findings. 

Research Protocols

Names and descriptions for the IDEO Method Cards (IDEO, 2003)
Ideo (2003) IDEO Method Cards: 51 Ways to Inspire Design. William Stout.


Research MethodDescription
Activity AnalysisA description of project relevant dynamics: actions, interactions, tasks, and objects of achieving goals.
Affinity DiagramsRepresent or diagram clustering of design elements with activities, goals, obstacles. Proximity, dependence and relationships
Anthropometric AnalysisHuman factors or ergonomics to assess project relevant use factors.
Character ProfilesPersonas. Archetypes of real people with real goals, lifestyle, behaviour, identities.
Cognitive Task AnalysisList, summary of all available sensory inputs decision points and actions.
Competitive Product SurveyCollect, compare, and conduct evaluations of extant and competitive products.
Cross-Cultural ComparisonsPersonal accounts of differences in situations, behaviour and artefacts in different national or cultural settings.
Error AnalysisCapturing the things that actually go wrong in the project relevant setting.
Flow AnalysisThe flow of information in existing and/or new system.
Historical AnalysisIdentify trends and cycles of product use, customer behaviour, market, and practice. Relate to timeless goals
Long-Range ForecastsNarratives of future scenarios complete with social and technological trends to predict behaviours.
Secondary ResearchSummary analysis of existing sources and 3rd party data on project relevant areas.


Research MethodDescription
A Day in the LifeCatalogue a person’s whole day without necessarily focusing on project relevant aspects.
Behavioural ArchaeologyLook at use, wear, the detailed arrangement or organisation of use objects in their use setting.
Behavioural MappingMap position, movement, and use of space over time.
Fly on the WallObserve in context without interfering.
Guided ToursAsk the user to guide you through project relevant spaces and activities.
Personal InventoryAsk the user to reflect on and describe the things they view as important or significant
Rapid EthnographyParticipate and experience it first-hand with the user for as long as possible.
ShadowingTag-along with people through the day.
Social Network MappingNotice the relationships between people, groups. Look for identity, profession, culture, and connections.
Still Photo SurveyBuild up a visual record of key use and interaction moments over time.
Time-Lapse VideoA way of summarising activity over time, use of time, space, and location.


Research MethodDescription
Camera JournalA written and visual diary of project relevant circumstances and activities.
Card SortOrganise cards spatially in ways that make sense. To expose mental models of device or system.
Cognitive MapsCreate a map of an existing or virtual space. The pathways they know and navigate, mental models.
CollageSelf created collage of arranged images. Used to help verbalise complex or unvocalised themes.
Conceptual LandscapeSketch and juxtapose social and behavioural constructs from participants. People’s mental model.
Cultural ProbesA visual journal for participants to build up themselves. A self generated reflection. Gathered and compared across many participants.
Draw the ExperienceAsk participants to visualise and draw the experience in their own way, with their own associations, order, relationships, theories.
Extreme User InterviewsEvaluate (ask) users at extreme ends of market (early adopters, power users, beginners) to highlight their issues.
Five Whys?Ask “why?” in response to five consecutive answers. Expose/uncover deeper attitudes perceptions.
Foreign CorrespondentsElicit inputs from others (snowball sample) to build up varied cultural and environmental contexts.
NarrationUsers perform tasks and achieve goals while describing aloud. Talk aloud protocol. Stream of consciousness.
Surveys & QuestionnairesTargeted questions to assess design, usage, interaction characterises and perceptions of users.
Unfocus GroupGather a range of tools or materials and get diverse user group to create things relevant to the design or project.
Word-Concept AssociationUsers associate words with design. Cluster user perceptions to evaluate design features & concepts. Value and priority.


Research MethodDescription
Behaviour SamplingSnapshot people’s activities at different times. How do pervasive products intrude in your lives?
Be Your CustomerWhat is it like to purchase your product? Actual experience of searching, buying, consuming, disposing.
BodystormingAct out scenarios with many people, using space, place, sequence, queues, etc. Test performance in context.
Empathy ToolsExperience the range of users capability for involvement under real conditions.
Experience PrototypeMock up a rough but workable prototype to simulate the experience of using the new product.
InformanceAct out scenarios observed in the field to interpret and analyse in the lab. Builds shared understanding and good for solution formation.
Paper PrototypingRapid paper based mock-ups that are manipulated to demonstrate functionality. To articulate design concepts with users.
Predict Next Year’s HeadlinesInvolve users in future design possibilities. Futuristic, wishing, unmet needs. Help separate what is needed now from what can wait.
Quick-and-Dirty PrototypingAssemble a very rough mock-up of a new feature or product to help start and refine a design.
Role-PlayingIdentify actors/stakeholders involved in design use, enact real activities in real or imagined context.
Scale ModellingSimulation technique to test arrangements of space, place, context.
ScenariosA character-rich story, to communicate (simulate) and test a plausible story in probable context.
Scenario TestingShow depictions of possible future scenarios. Share reactions, refine concepts.
Try it YourselfLike Microsoft’s famous ‘eating our own dog food’ being the first user.