Research and development (R+D) is a very powerful tool in the design of services, systems and collateral. Research is necessary in a global economy beyond the talents of the individual. Good R+D can not only set you apart from the normal routes of design and iteration but can structure how the team thinks and ultimately delivers a healthier, creative and data driven solution. Understanding the problem, having tools to ask the right questions, obtaining objective data, surveying and comparing best practice and current literature, synthesising the data are all part of the process of making informed and intelligent decisions.
The process of applying simple research methods has proven to make good financial and creative sense. In a global economy relying on what you think you know is fanciful. In a number of projects I have applied flexible research methods to uncover the problem or give an edge to justify the choices for an interface style or design of a system. I have always applied user studies, trends analysis, workshops to uncover scenarios or profiles, user studies and testing, iteration and testing again. This coupled with some basic facts and real world data on the subject makes for a robust assessment and way forward. It’s too expensive and too risky to rely on a personality or instinct. The team have to know that the facts can support their decisions.