Design Research

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Design Research

What's this for?

Design Research is an observation process that allows you to spot problems and opportunities your prospective users or customers may not even be aware of, because of habit.

This exercise is useful if your starting point for a business opportunity is a problem that could be better defined - particularly if it's not a problem you experience yourself. An empathic design exercise may allow you to spot more nuances to the problem than you first imagined, and help you come up with a better solution.

It may also be useful when trying to commercialise a new technology, avoiding that you 'force-fit' a solution to a problem and allowing you to 'productise' a technology in a sympathetic way that will appeal to the end customer.


To use empathic design as a tool for understanding users' needs and developing better products.

Suggested steps

1. Click the link to access the Learning Manual: ‘IE&D Empathic Design.

2. With respect to your business idea, think of ways empathic design might help your project. Would you benefit from more information about your potential customers, and is there a situation where you can observe them in action?

You may be able to observe people in public spaces (passers-by on the street, people on the bus) and record your findings (photographs, video) or you may want to set up a session with some specific users.

3. Run the exercise and record your findings (notes, images, footage).

4. Review your material, analyse the problem and brainstorm for solutions.

5. You can use the Idea Generation and Evaluation exercise in this Toolbox to evaluate the best ideas.

If you need to print out a copy of the learning manual(s) for offline use, please follow these steps:
    - Click the "Create PDF" button at the top right hand corner of the page.
    - Scroll to the "Attachment" section (at the end of the last page).
    - Click on the paperclip icon next to the manual.