Whether it be academic or professional, most research for a new product begins with a question that needs an answer or a problem that requires a solution. There are different research methods for various real-world applications, such as observational, experimental, or qualitative research. Whether a design researcher seeks to create accessible architecture, comfortable chairs, or the next innovative electrical component, research is an intersection of past information, present innovation, and inspiration in its most basic form.
As design becomes easier and more efficient with software like Fusion 360, it’s time to revisit research methodology by providing five contextual tips for conducting thorough design research to help with your design decision-making process.
The design research process requires dedication and determination. Remember, not all information gathered will yield useful or applicable results. It’s up to the design researcher to move forward and alter their creation according to what has been proven effective and, just as importantly, what has been proven ineffective. There is nothing wrong with revising or redesigning a product based on acquired research, and it is important to keep a running list of research questions and ideas as your project evolves.
Remember the End-User
Depending on what is being designed, engineers must ensure their design meets the end-user requirements and solves certain pain points for the user. Often this process considers usability and accessibility: What makes this product user-friendly? How might the user interact positively or negatively with the product? In the research phase of a project, designers can collect qualitative and quantitative information to understand why users use one product and not another. Specifically, this type of design is called UX (user experience) design.
UX design is essential because the end-user is eventually the person who will use or pay for a product. A product that falls short of user expectations will require a revision or a redesign, which costs time and money. A good design is determined by how well it functions for the target audience.
Carefully Record Data
Data collection and retention build the foundation for a functional and successful design. Inaccurate notes or disorganized data can slow down the design process and add unnecessary backtracking through primary and secondary resources. As data is collected, ensure that everything is organized and sources are cited adequately for future reference.
Evaluate Data for Accuracy and Application
Organized and accurate data is easier to assimilate and apply to 2D and 3D product models. As previously mentioned, not all data will be useful, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be used for future projects. As obvious as it sounds, ensuring data collection is accurate and free of errors is critical. Inaccurate data could debilitate an otherwise successful design solution.
Utilize Multiple Tools and Research Methods
There is no single type of research. Most designs are built using a conglomerate of tools and methods. For example, user interviews give an engineer insight into how their product will fare once manufactured and distributed. However, analogous research would lend a whole new perspective on human behavior to a designer who might not visualize problems mentioned during the end-user interviews. Research is an encapsulation of methods, approaches, and data collection that lead to a successful and innovative design.
After you finish the design research and market research processes and when you’re ready to start your prototyping journey, Fusion 360 is here for you. Learn about what an integrated CAD/CAM software can do for you here, then download Fusion 360 to get started.