Structuring Analysis for Innovation

As I registered for this year's EPIC conference, I was reminded of why I love attending this worthwhile event. Last year, Murilo Gomes and Marcelo Fagundes presented an analysis-planning process used by their firm, Brazilian consultant group INSITUM. It is a thorough and elegant strategy to evaluate and design the analysis process itself, with the goal of presenting insights and innovation opportunities discovered from the research.

The workshop showed how to choose the most suitable techniques for each phase of the analysis based on criteria derived from an assessment of project objectives and methodology, the client and audience for the presentation, and the resources available from the research, the design firm, and the client.

I thought the workshop was an excellent way to use structured methods to examine, extract, and present the research outcomes, and Murilo and Marcelo were generous enough to allow me to run the workshop with students at ArtCenter. 


It was a great success, with upper-term product design students as well as some alumni. 
You can see a video of the EPIC conference workshop here, and I hope to see some of you at this year's EPIC in Montréal.



Experience Sampling with Smartphones

We tried something new in ID Research last week. I've long wanted to do "beeper studies" using smartphones and the simple capabilities of text messaging - texting participants and asking them to provide a brief description of what's happening in the moment, plus a snapshot. 

This is an old method that allows researchers to collect "samples" of everyday experience that would otherwise be difficult to capture. It was done using beepers back in the day, hence the name Beeper Studies.*

There are ethnographic research apps available that can be used for this, but I wanted to see if we could do it simply and without having people buy a special-purpose app. Using the class as our participants, my TA, Jeff Lin, texted them at various times of day for a week and asked them to text back with a rating of how stressed they were in that moment, along with a brief description and a photo of what they were doing.

We compiled all of the samples into a matrix and viewed the results - a picture of one week in the life of fifteen ArtCenter students. The method worked pretty well. We have a few notes on what we will change the next time we do this, but I think I'll add this to our list of generative tools.

*  For more on Beeper Studies, you really should try to find a copy of the book, "Experience Sampling Method," by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and others. He is one of my research heroes, and every designer should have a copy of his book, "Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience" on their shelf. Here's a link to his TED talk, on the topic of Flow.


The New Archetype Deck

Just got the finished Archetype Deck that I will be using in a workshop at the IDSA National Education Symposium in a couple of weeks. It should be great fun for all. We'll be using this tool to conduct research during the conference.

I've been using a deck like this for a while, but without original art. Thanks to talented Art Center illustration alumna, Tiffany Hayashi, and her equally talented colleague Victoria Liwski, we now have our own deck. I've added a few archetypes to Jung's original twelve, creating a generative tool that is effective to fuel discussions about a variety of topics.



In Support of Dedicated Research Courses for Undergrad Programs

Elizabeth Sanders and I have just finished an article for the upcoming issue of Innovation in support of dedicated research-only courses in undergraduate design education (please see the final draft of the article in the "papers" section of this site). As far as we have found, OSU and Art Center are the only programs presently offering such courses at the undergrad level. Many graduate programs have dedicated research courses but it seems rare for undergrad programs, and Liz and I both regret this. We would appreciate very much hearing from design students and faculty who are presently taking or teaching research-only courses in an undergrad design program. We'd love to compare notes.

Image: Analysis exercises by Jocelyn Ma, Siwei Wang, and Susan Zhang for my ID Research course, Summer 2014


New Page: Papers


I've added a new page to this site that contains a few of the articles and papers I've written over the years. Enjoy.