Before you can solve a problem, you must first determine what the problem actually is. Taking it one step further, you need to know who’s actually experiencing that problem?
What are their real needs? Where are they experiencing friction? Foundational research finds answers to those questions. Our team uses design thinking to expose unmet needs, identify the correct problem and who’s experiencing it, and uncover key insights into how we can solve it.
Gaining Empathy for the User
Qualitative research is the foundation of everything we do in our evidence-based design practice. Our approach takes us into the field to observe real users in the context that they use the product or service. This gives us insight into what they do and how they do it. It also exposes any problems or points of friction that they experience. Conducting foundational research ethnographically, we really focus on the user and their story which leads us to uncovering their unmet needs. To better understand a full view of the user, we look at both typical and extreme users — that is, users who will push the product or service to its limit and full potential
Looking Internally for Friction and Alignment
In practice, stakeholder research looks very similar to qualitative research. Both are ethnographic in nature. The difference is who we’re observing and why. For stakeholder research, we focus our attention on key people inside (or sometimes outside) the organization who play a role in the success of a product or service. Our goal with stakeholder research is to figure out what these stakeholders’ needs are. But we’re also looking at the system as a whole, looking for any discrepancies in alignment or friction between teams in the organization that could impact the rest of the system.
Analytical and Intuitive Data
Our findings in qualitative and stakeholder research are generally very broad due to the amount of people we interview. Quantitative research is quite the opposite as it’s entirely focused on specificity. We use quantitative research to gain additional, specific insight into situations surrounding a product. Often this is done in support of our qualitative and stakeholder findings. While we never rely on data alone in our design work, it does help paint a more clear picture of the entire problem we’re solving.