Product/Industrial Research Methods


I’m used to doing Web and Interaction based user research but have just been given a project that involves testing physical products with users. We’ve been told to collect research into how people like the aesthetics of the product. I’m not really sure what methods to base my research on, Does anyone have any resources that might be useful at all?

or does anyone know any PD/ID research based forums or Blogs?

Any help would be greatly appreciated (only have a few days to complete)



So out of 27 people that have read this, no one has any input at all? really?

Ah well

That’s the spirit!

Just a tip: people contribute when they have time and feel for it. I’d change the attitude if I wanted help.

You might want to look into the 51 method cards from IDEO as a quick start. You can also buy an iPhone app with the method cards. Method Cards |

What: I’m sure you have a goal for this research, such as “identify which concept best represents the results we want.” If you don’t, take some time to clarify one. Was there a design-brief that led to these products? If so, look at what goals were established in the brief, and measure against those. Designers typically want to know how concepts score on a variety of criteria so they can further optimize, or measure against pre-defined goals. Criteria such as perceived quality, value, safety, brand-recognition etc.

How: With physical products you want to bring users in (or go to them) so they can actually interact with the products. Ask them to talk while they examine each design while you take notes and videotape. You can follow-up with a simple survey that asks them to rate each design on a bunch of criteria that matters to you. (If you’re not sure, you can use a generic set of design criteria–Cagen & Vogel offer some in their book Creating Breakthrough Products.) Finally, you can ask them to force-rank all the concepts. Always give them the opportunity to explain their scores.

Hope that helps!

Well, sorry bout that before, obviously didn’t give anyone enough time to craft an answer, and was very discourteous in dismissing you all so abruptly. Thanks for taking the time to hastily skip past my uncouth, yobbish post and give me these answers.

These answers are great, i’ve come across the IDEO things before but completely forgot about them, I’ll give them another look through. in the meantime, has anyone come across any more research focused blogs or resources? I’m only just starting to get into user research and could do with somewhere supportive where I can start to learn the basics and also more specialist skills? I suppose most of the stuff nowadays is based around interaction and web-based research? but maybe one of these has a bit to do with product so could also be useful?