Design Thinking is deeply rooted in building understanding and empathy as a foundation for the design process.
Because of this, setting screening or recruitment criteria for participants in research studies is one of the most important decisions in planning design research. These users will be the basis for most of the data collected so it’s important to begin with a solid foundation. In some ways, you’re basing this decision off of a working hypothesis – and you hope to prove the hypothesis true. (Note, however, that it’s not a “bad” thing to discover you were off in your estimation of the “right” user group. This reframe can be a huge learning!)
Every project is different, but here are a few general rules of thumb that can help ensure you find the right people to inspire your insights and design:
A marketing target is not the same as a good design research participant
In design research, our objectives are different than marketing research. We’re seeking to understand needs and develop empathy so that we can design an experience (a product and/or a service) that creates value for the user. Marketing isn’t in opposition to this idea, but it’s more focused on finding the greatest value for the firm and seeks to find that value via marketing research.
As design researchers, we are careful to look beyond a specific marketing target or segment. We purposefully cast a wider net to ensure we’re capturing a range of user behaviors and needs. As an example, screening to find only millennial moms who are on Facebook and are “heavy users” of a particular product excludes others who could be incredibly valuable in developing understanding for how a product or service could be designed.
Design researchers purposefully cast a wider net to ensure we’re capturing a range of user behaviors and needs.
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