Design Research

Find out what people want and give it to them. In theory, this formula seems so simple, but in practice it means you have to form a much deeper layer of understanding within your user base. What gets her out of bed in the morning? What keeps him awake at night? What are the things in life they truly value?

Remote design research

There are all kinds of remote design services which are well suited to design meaningful services and help build better, more flexible organisations. Remote design research is a well established and a powerful tool and delivers strong customer insights. Interviews, group sessions or user tests can easily be shared with your organisations through a live broadcast.

Check out our Remote design services to find out more about how we work remotely.

Get a deeper understanding of your customers. 

We use a mix of design and ethnographic research techniques to get deeper into the mindsets of the customers. We identify users’ needs and underlying drivers and motivations which help us to understand their behaviours. 

 “Every customer is the expert of his own experience.”

Our own research facility.

At our Amsterdam office, we have our own research facility with a one-way mirror, so our clients can be present during interviews. The room is equipped with cameras and screen capture software, so we can stream the conversations and observers can join from anywhere with a decent internet connection. The interior offers a relaxed vibe so that our interviewees are at ease. In our experience this much more comfortable and informal setting, allows people to be more open, honest and informative, which in turn leads to higher quality and more actionable insights.

Our interview room with see-through glass.

Do you know or do you think you know? 

We’ve seen it too often that innovations are designed and implemented based on the wrong assumption. There goes your time, effort and money. Our advice: take time to listen.

Invest in User & Design Research

What is the real issue at hand? How do you know you’re focussing on the right problem and spending your investment wisely? We always recommend taking a broader scope, taking a step back and looking at it from a holistic point of view. Invest in the beginning, take the time to get it right, this will accelerate the process later on and get you the results that you need.

Mix & match research techniques 

Depending on your target group, context, budget and research topic, we choose the research techniques that will yield the best results for you.

To find out more about our research techniques, click on them!

Contextmapping is a generative technique that helps to understand the user and the context he or she is in. Over the period of a few days to a week, we ask a group of users to complete a little exercise every day. These exercises can be found in a customised booklet we send them. Exercises are mostly creative tasks, where we, for example, ask them to draw a timeline of a certain experience. Like, how does your trip to the city normally go? Users don’t only use words, we also encourage them to draw, use colour, and paste the included emotion and smiley stickers. These exercises enable them to express themselves better and work especially well with topics that they are not occupied with every day. Contextmapping is combined with interviews in order to get a better understanding of what users have created. 

Ethnography focuses on observing users in their own context. Mobile phones have added extra possibilities to do so. Users are asked to share their experiences in an environment where their experiences actually take place, e.g. when they are watching television at home. Common functions are recording videos and audio, taking pictures and answering questions. Interesting metadata, like time and GPS location, give an ever richer image of a user’s behaviour. Live functions like chat give researchers the possibility to ask questions in the moment. Mobile ethnography is ideally suited for research-on-the-go and to gather lots of data in a short time frame, but gets even better when combined with interviews.

Our most-used research technique: interviews! They enable us to really dive into a subject. For 60 to 90 minutes, we try to answer the most important question: Why? Why do users do what they do? What drives them and how does this impact their behaviour? And how do they actually behave? With an interview guide that works as a compass, we let the user talk. And talk. Techniques like why-laddering and awareness of our own biases help us to cut through the clutter and uncover a wide range of needs, pains and delighters. These interviews are focussed on discovering insights and inspiration and to provide us with fresh perspectives.

Sometimes you want to interview people right where the action is happening. Then interviews on-the-go are the way-to-go. These short interviews of 5 to 20 minutes don’t need a lot of preparation. Go to the desired location and see if you can find people that have some time to spare. Sometimes we combine these with a simple contextmapping exercise. Ideal to speak to a lot of different people in a short timeframe and no recruitment of participants is necessary! 

What’s better than an in-depth interview? An in-depth home visit interview! The setup is pretty much the same, but the interview takes place at a user’s house. This will give you a richer picture of the person and his life. And as this person will feel at ease in the context of his own home, he or she is probably easier to connect to and more likely to open up.

The goal of this technique is to understand what the users experience when they are using a service. This technique is not just for researchers, but also for teams of the organisation itself. Each person involved gets a task to perform and has to go through the steps of the journey as a ‘normal’ user. Examples can be ‘order a lease car online’ or ‘travel by train from A to B’.

This research technique is similar to a service safari, but in this case we visit other companies. These organisations can be competitors, but also similar industries or even completely different industries. The goal is to observe their processes, look at the customers that are currently there, and get inspired. 

Surveys are a relatively easy way to reach a large group of people. Better suited for quantitative questions (how, what and how many?), but may also be used for basic qualitative questions. We mainly advice using surveys to validate insights or give insight into sizes of target groups.

There are explicit differences between what people say they do and the things they actually do. This could have multiple reasons, e.g. socially/culturally or people leaving out details they think don’t matter. By observing people in real-life settings, we’ll uncover interesting insights. This technique is ideally combined with on-the-go interviews or a service benchmark.

Invite users from a specific target group for a co-creation session and give them all the means to express themselves creatively. By creating, people use different parts of their brain, which will present us with new insights. Exercises can be diverse, like collage making, card sorting, LEGO Serious Play, etc.

Get a group of people from a specific target group together and discuss with them about relevant topics. We use focus groups mostly to test concepts. In the explorative phase of a project, we mainly use co-creation sessions. Focus groups, compared to interviews, are more time-efficient as you speak to more people at the same time. Be aware that users may influence each other, and might blur outcomes.

We love this tool, because it gives us immediate response on how good the new ideas are. By building a simple prototype and testing it with users, we validate our assumptions before spending a lot of money on development. Mostly used for digital prototypes, but physical setups (like floorplans or retail experiences) are also done frequently.

Want advice on which technique to use for your specific situation?

Visual Design

Morphological Psychology

Service Blueprint

Need Based Personas

Value Proposition

Brand Strategy

Business Playbooks

Interaction Design

Touchpoint Strategy

Maturity Scan