CT&D #68. Discovery Methods in Project Development

What discovery method is the most useful in your current or future projects and why?

The discovery method that I find most useful personally is observing. I consider myself a visual leaner and creative designer given my graphic design background and interests. With that said, whenever I begin the discovery process in creating or recreating a new idea or concept, I always seek to visualize a problem as physically (or mentally) demonstrated before drawing it out.

What my drawing would include is dependent upon whatever my observation focuses on: the environment(s) where a problem takes place, the points of dissatisfaction the user(s) have in encountering an issue by an existing product or an element not yet countered by a new one, and some key background facts about the demographic who I aim to target (this is mainly shown in brief side notes next to my drawings). Now usually in this same document, I begin to draw out some rough sketches of ideas that could solve one to many issues witnessed from my observations. The goal for me here is to address many, if not all issues in some way, which inevitably leads me to several sketches for potential prototypes until they’re eventually narrowed down to one or two.

Ultimately, the method of observing (whether in person or through video) is one I favor because a problem that I can focus on would be presented as a case study where reactions from such can form the basis for thinking about solutions visually. Yes, other methods like brainstorming and research often happen at this point too (especially the former), but I’m specifically talking about taking what was seen in a product demo and translating that into what could be seen on paper, a manner not too dissimilar to storyboarding. Brainstorming and research are very important to me too, especially the latter and always supplements the discovery process in ideation.

Back to observing… If multiple designers within a team can do this separately and later compare and contrast their ideas visually based on product-testing observations, I strongly feel that a story is being told in different ways, where the intent is to find the “best” idea, either from one designer or a collaboration of two or more. I just get the sense too that openly discussing ideas without a visual following observation leads to forgotten notes and not enough in-depth focus on the issues discussed. If we can get a perspective (within a person’s shoes facing a problem head-on), a stronger and more natural discovery process would most likely result in conceiving potential ideas for a product or solution.

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