Here are a couple of pages from the book, Ignite Your Research Mojo, now available on Amazon!
This excerpt is from chapter 5.
5. Do you smell what I’m steppin’ in?
– Translating insights into product design
“How do you actually take the insights from a research study and include them in your designs?”
—QUESTION FROM A DESIGN INTERN ON HER FIRST DAY ON THE JOB
“We let our designers figure that out. Ha! Ha! Ha!”
—HER MANAGER’S ANSWER
In the previous chapter, we saw how to come up with actionable insights. We learned that there isn’t one set path for generating an insight. We also learned that sometimes we may not learn anything worth being considered an insight. That’s OK. We don’t have to feel depressed about it. There will always be more studies in the future, and with them, more opportunities for generating insights. Sometimes, not getting anything significant is an insight in itself, a fact that, I have found, is often lost on researchers. Added to this is another fact: you don’t look cool declaring, “I found nothing of significance”!
Now comes the toughest part. What should you do with all those insights? You can just lob the insights over the wall and hope someone will pick them up and run with them. Insights, even actionable ones, are still pretty hard to parse into a language that designers or product managers understand. But unless you do this, unless you take this crucial step in making the implication of the insight easy to understand, all the work you’ve done so far is pretty damn useless. In order to make the insight actionable, you need to follow a clear process where you map the insight to the problem you’re trying to solve. Let me illustrate why this step is important. I’m going to digress again, but by now you should be used to it.
When my kids were in middle school (junior high), we used to attend open houses at their school. An open house was one of the few opportu- nities we’d get to speak with their teachers face to face. During one such conversation with their math teacher, I asked, “So, Mrs. Numbermeister, what’s the biggest challenge you face in teaching math to middle-school- ers?” I was expecting her to say something along the lines of “getting them to focus” or “making them get interested in math.” Instead, she said, “Getting them to show their work!” “Huh,” I said. “Why is it so important for them to show their work? Isn’t it enough if they get the right answer?” To which she said something that at that time didn’t seem important but in hindsight made a lot of sense. “As it turns out,” she said, “a lot of kids don’t exactly understand the value of each step in getting to that final solution. Quite often, the solution seems evident, but they can’t articulate how they got there. If they don’t understand the process, they may not be able to repeat their success with each problem.”
Think about it. Even when the solution to the problem is sometimes very obvious, unless you understand the steps involved in the process, it is going to be hard to replicate the method.
It’s the same story with insights. Sometimes, clever designers know exactly what to do with a given insight. They are immediately and intuitively able to come up with exactly the design solution the doctor ordered. But if you ask them to spell out what the thinking process was, they’re at a loss. This makes it difficult to a) replicate the process with another insight, and b) teach other designers and product managers how they arrived at the solution.
And that’s where this chapter comes in. I am going to share a method that Ben (the illustrator of this book) and I have used successfully ourselves. By no means is this the only method to come up with a design solution from insights. But like I said, it has worked for us and we thought we should share it with you. So here goes: let’s unravel the mystery behind translating insights into design decisions….
Here are the steps in brief.
Generate actionable insight.
Create hypotheses based on the insight.
Create inventions to translate the hypothesis into tangible design solutions.
Run experiments. Test the invention and examine whether the under- lying hypothesis holds true and whether the solution you’re created is the right one.
That’s right folks! In this chapter, I’m going to talk in detail about these steps, about what you need to do to take that insight and turn it into a design solution. I have a feeling stuff like this is going to be pretty valuable for you.
If you’d like to read more, get yourself a copy of the book Ignite your research mojo. Here’s where you can get it: Ignite your research mojo on Amazon