Anyone who is involved in the design and development of products knows just how many decisions have to be made, day by day, week by week, month by month. Every decision, no matter how small, can affect the course of a project, setting it on the road to success or to disaster. So how can companies ensure that the right design decisions are being made?
The value of research
Too often, whether design decisions are beneficial or detrimental ends up being a matter of luck - many of the most successful products in the world hit on an idea by accident or ended up where they are simply due to circumstance. But for every successful product there are millions of other products with great ideas and talented teams behind them that take a wrong turn towards failure. While it may be tempting to gamble and hope for the next big thing, there is a simpler, more effective way to set a product on the road to success and keep it there - design research.
What research looks like
Research can take a range of forms - from a large-scale study of the lives and habits of customers, to a simple test of the functionality and usability of a new feature. The key is to gather useful, meaningful data that provides a clear direction for the project taking into account all the key variables, including the needs of customers, the capability of the company and the nature of the market. Research can help you identify and challenge dangerous assumptions before they trip you up. It can also tell you if a product or service is worth developing in the first place and it can uncover ways in which an existing product can be improved in order to gain new customers.
Smart decisions are rooted in research
Practical, goal-focused research allows you to assess design decisions against solid evidence, to understand what the impact of that decision might be and to balance that decision against the many other factors that need to be taken into account, such as business capability and user needs. Decisions based on evidence aren’t subject to the preferences and opinions of the team - they are instead based on a real understanding of what a product needs to do in order to be successful. Research takes the pressure off decision-makers by removing the expectation that they will be able to make choices without all the necessary information and it flags up potential problems before time and money has been wasted on a bad idea. Clear data and evidence allows a company to make decisions from a position of knowledge and strength, allowing them to avoid the pitfalls that so many companies fall victim to.
Would you like to learn more?
If you would like to hear from our CEO Frances Brown about how she uses research to support companies in making smarter design decisions, you can view the recording of our webinar, Making smarter decisions in product design.