Researchers in ID

How often does a corporate or consultancy involve in research? Especially having a person solely for research.

Smart design has a intern opportunity in design research (DR) wanting someone from journalism, anthropology, architecture, psychology or even someone without design background. I know in school we have done projects from research to design. Can ID er’s say that we have experience in research?

One of my strengths in ID is research, and I am interested in finding information, facts and data to strongly support a project goal. Any view on how the job market is for researcher’s in design?

Anyone in core have experience solely as DR’s for a company?

As a consult, I always pushed for research. I’d say about 30% of the clients would buy it. That will probably differ from consultancy to consultancy.

Most large consultancies will have a director of research, but they will only have 0-2 subordinates. Otherwise they will grab bodies from other areas as needed. In a smaller consutancies, the “director of research” probably wears many hats and has a different title.

A few corporations will have a design research department, most do not. They will claim their marketing department does it but in reality, the marketing department rarely conducts design research.

Good luck.

A lot of larger consulting groups will have pretty large DR teams. Corporations tend to have them might it might be titlled differently, for example as consumer insights, trend research, or something similar

Whether or not a background in ID is something that will qualify you for a research position in a corporate environment depends largely on the corporation and their understanding/value of the design field. Where I work, designers are not really responsible for doing research. In order for us to do design research, we work with outside consultancies, but getting buy in from our business partners to fund the research necessary for user-centric design can be a struggle. It largely hinges on where we get pulled in on the process.

If you are interested in a career in research, you can certainly get there with a BFA in ID as a starting point. Getting a masters in design with a more detailed focus on research (such as the program at IIT) or getting plugged in with a good cross-functional design team will allow you to gain experience. Either way, I encourage you to go for it… doing design without being able to be in direct contact with users can leave you feeling like you are trying to design blind. Does this help?

There are many consultancies and in-house teams that have dedicated DRrs… here in England as well as the US. SeymourPowell has a branch called Foresight that specializes (maybe the first that did specialise…) in ethnographic and DR . I’ve met some of that team and they do some interesting work all over the world - stuff like investigate mayonnaise use in Russian to make better packaging. Cool, interesting stuff. Many come from Strategic design or Business backgrounds. Samsung EU has some DR. I think Continuum and SKD might some too, their online stuff focuses on it.

There are some cool Lunar Design pod-casts available on design research; Steve Portugal has a few around as well. If you’re interested you might enjoy them. DMI focuses on it, as well as many books (I’m sure CG is going to pipe in here soon, he seems to be all over it). If you’re at a university and can get access to journals, there’s a ton of great stuff on it there too

A lot of strategic design groups do design research, and it seems to be more and more common (over the last 10+ years). I worked in one for a couple years, and its very interesting work. Not as much of the ‘sketching/CAD’ type of design, but more of the ‘investigation of the problem’ kind. If you look at all the consultancies front pages, almost all highlight strategic competencies. To me, this seems to mean they are adding more to their design services with things like DR and business strategists…

I hope you don’t mean that you use research to prop up a hypothesis (or forgone conclusion). That’s research used for evil :smiling_imp:

To answer your question, research is a critical part of the design process. Being a user-centered designer, I tend to work at places that employ fulltime design researchers, and I expect my consultants to include a DR for at least the early phases.

I would say that a design education is probably not enough to be considered a full time design researcher in the general market, especially when you will be judged against those with specialty training in statistics, task-analysis etc. Bias is also frequently discussed since the designer tends to be intuitive and has a harder time being objective.

However, never say never. Many DR’s have come from varied backgrounds, and they’re in high-demand. Like we always say, portfolio rules. So how’s yours? Can you share some examples for crit?

Thanks so much for all the reply. It is enriching to see the importance and scope in DR.

I understand the “evil” in turning the research to suite hypothesis. It was tempting though. But I learnt the importance of true research leading to a newer updated project goal. I had the opportunity to fully immerse in research in both my undergrad and grad thesis projects. Undergrad was in Architecture where I had to hypothesize a project and then through research prove the need for the project and support the need through study, survey and stakeholder’s interest. More like journal report. not very colorful, lot of text.

For ID thesis, the hypothesis I proposed in due time slowly evolved and changed. Started with reducing stress in educational system then from design criteria evaluation the final hypothesis was focused to enhance interaction, improve creativity in elementary school education. I know it is way off from where I started. But actually it was more relevant and would provide a significant offer to education.

The thesis research process can be find in the following link

ID thesis: first 40 pages are research.

Arch thesis: ( warning: lot of text probably designer repellent)

Still lot to learn, hope to gain some entry level experience soon. Any crit, cg and others?

We have two internal research groups, one that does sensory research meaning what the product tastes like and how it works with the sense, and another that does marketing research. I am involved in both as well as our other design managers. You have to understand your consumer, before you design a product or package. I feel that every ID should have a stronge research understanding as they should be able to relate to their consumer. So to answer the initial question…we all are researchers.

Package ID: I believe that ID should have strong research too. But just like designers having strength and weakness, some find research dry and boring. Some of my then classmates were eager to get into concepts and do a half-a$$ job in research. Just like cg mentioned, tailoring the research to fit the goal. Then they get grilled during thesis review. With a unstable research the design doesnt seem to be valid.

My instructor’s at school and my then sr designer encouraged my research skills. Until recently, I didn’t give attention to improve that skill and make it my specialty. With a competitive design world, I realized that I am an average designer and just maybe I can shine in DR. This week I cold called one or two research consultants around my location. I am going to meet one of them by end of this month. Maybe I would work as intern or maybe get some leads to other connections. I am thinking of cold calling Steve Portigal, he is nearby. Nervous though!

Another question on DR as a career. To show as a portfolio, what should I include and not include for research portfolio? Should your portfolio end at the research or do you show the complete project? or show the research and then jump to user testing and evaluation?

As I was searching for research consultancies, most of them were interaction and user experience related. Ixd research seems different in approach than ID’s design research. I guess the method is similar- target market, user observation, survey etc.

Some new methods emerged, like " Remote user observation" and remote user testing- actually pays you to test their clients website 10$ per site.