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Is Research In Design Hurting The Industry And Designers?

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As I am about to graduate from a product design program next month, I know full well that the design world is madly in love with research at the moment, and there certainly is no shortage of methods out there to be implemented at any point in the process.


We’ve learned techniques throughout the program that seem to work like a crystal ball which allow us to look into the minds of consumers and pluck out their needs and desires. Then boil it down into a spread sheet and snazzy chart that’s easy to absorb for the executives. I commented to a friend recently, “it’s almost not fair that some companies know how to use these techniques and others don’t.” They are crucial to developing successful products, and failure to use them will result in a failure for your company.


With that said, I found this article by Ben McAllister to be quite thought provoking. Have we lost sight of the softer side of product design? The side that relies on intuition and creativity. More importantly, does it reduce the value of designers to a an easy to follow process that anyone can do?


I believe that good designers need to be whole minded in the way they approach their designs. Use the new tools available with a constant critical eye on them to make sure they fit in with your design sensibilities. I don’t think that new research tools and methods devalue designers, but rather increase their value by expanding their abilities to act on their gut and gain leverage in the board room. The new research techniques and methods are a powerful new tool, but are only part of the equation for success in the market.

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