Before you can design anything you must first understand the problem. Field research allows you to grasp the field in which you are designing and truly understand what must be done. I find this section of my process to be the most interesting; interacting with people brings me great joy and makes designing socially a pleasure.
I have often visited sights of which I will find people relevant to my research and just observed there day by day activities. Just being in a relevant place can often spark ideas in your head. I find that this is a very effective way of building a successful focus group. Using this method I have found many valuable informants and users.
I have in the past hosted “party’s” in which I group a collection of people into a room; these people are avid users of similar products or services as I wish to design. The latest example of this can be seen in the images below; I hosted a tea party to discuss my findings so far regarding my honours project research. While there I learned a lot about what people though and was able to progress with a first prototype from the information gained.
During my honours project I discovered Contextual inquiry as a research method. This method allows for the designer top observe or film the user preforming an everyday task and then question them on their actions. This proved very effective for me and I learned a lot form it. Below you can see an image of a mismatched tea set. I used this method and this tea set to discover what utensils are not used when the average person makes tea. I then used this information to lean what utencils I needed to focus on getting the public to use more.
I often use other research tools such as persona’s, interviews and role-playing. I find that mixes of many different styles will product the best overall result.