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Sometime earlier this year, I think I had reached a personal threshold for managing information consumption where things just broke down.

A new research project has come along and you need to recruit some research participants.

Castiron Coffee is exploring how to use their waste coffee grinds in low cost dumbbells for CrossFit gyms. They think there’s a market since the weights will by physically larger, and will make it look like people are lifting a lot more than they are, but they’ve hired you to explore whether this is actually something people want and need. You’ve got a plan and you have a sense of who you want to talk to: so time to find some recruits for your study.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Till now, we’ve mostly had to look out for ourselves. How we wanted to work out, what we wanted to eat, how we can grow our career, what movies and trips we wanted to take. Life was all about us. But once our baby is born, things shift. There’s a new focus. And looking out for this new number one means a reframe on how we spend our days and energy.


Both you and your partner will put on weight during the pregnancy. Having a bit of extra weight is fine (we all have different bodies, after all), provided that…

The success of a design research project is all about the insights, but getting there is a winding road of necessary administrative tasks: recruitment, scheduling, and consent gathering. And that’s all before you get your first meaningful conversation with the participant.

To make the admin side of recruitment easier, you can use Knowsi and Calendly to automate scheduling and sending out consent forms for participants to sign. Simply create your consent form on Knowsi, set up your Calendly with the Knowsi link, and sending it to your research participant.

Let’s look at how it’s done.

Create Your Consent Form with Knowsi

After you’ve signed up for…

A few items that are almost always with me.

Design research is about sensing and synthesizing the needs of your stakeholders: a fundamentally human task. But we’re tool using mammals, and it’s worth spending some time thinking about the design researcher’s Everyday Carry (EDC). While a quick google of EDC will usually surface photos of knives and paracord (with William Gibson giving one of my favorite offhand critiques of it in Zero History), I think we can make a strong argument for a softer and more open collection. …

Photo by CoWomen on Unsplash

Like our bodies need oxygen, our businesses need a constant supply of knowledge and understanding to fuel our work. But accessing that knowledge isn’t always as intuitive as breathing.

Understanding the why of your research is the difference between wasted time (and budget), and absorbing previously untapped knowledge and opportunity. You want to be in the latter camp: taking a deep breath to fuel your next move. To do that, you need to be able to articulate your research objective, and have some sense of what it is you want to uncover.

But Why?

Great research starts with a question. An itch…

Credit to Flavia Lopez for this great depiction of the research process for Relay Studio

One of my more traumatic design research moments is something I barely remember. I had flown from Palo Alto to London to lead two weeks of field research, and had made a mistake. I had scheduled the first interview for about three hours after I stepped off the plane. As a result, I found myself with zero sleep in a new city, about to perform an expert interview. On someone who is a bit of a hero to me, none the less.

Well, I barely remember the interview, though thankfully I had a recording. It actually went alright, but it…

Co-creating with your research participant

At the heart of great design research is note taking. Our job is to go into new environments, learn from and capture the experiences of others, and transform that knowledge into insight and action. Great notes and references serve as the bedrock of this process: making sure that you can represent your participant’s experiences accurately and not project your own on top.

Here are three fundamentals to keep in mind when starting a research session.

1) What is your role?

What role do you play in this research session? Are you the primary researcher, asking the question and making the introductions? …

Get your modern CSS rendered right with Heroku, Puppeteer, and Styled-Components

Sometimes, you really just need a nice PDF.

As I’ve been developing Knowsi, one of the things that emerged from my research with design researchers is that hard copies are a necessity. Sometimes it’s a legal policy within the company to keep hard copies, sometimes it’s a lack of trust in digital systems. There were enough reasons that for the Knowsi launch, I needed to have an easy PDF export.

Knowsi is a NextJS SSR application, and follows a model where you wrap your components and application so that…

We can’t predict the future, but that shouldn’t stop us from designing for it!

Designers today have a responsibility for designing tomorrow, especially when it comes to human health and well-being. Futurecasting (the practice of trying to envision the future) is challenging so to help we can use design thinking and rapid prototyping to explore the world of tomorrow in creative and divergent ways. This was the idea behind this first collaboration between Cookpad and the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design (CIID). Our plan was to bring speculative design and home cooking together into a fun day for attendees of…

Andrew Lovett-Barron

Designer exploring security, culture, and foresight. I write weekly essays on Now: UX Research @opentrons Prev: @ideo , @usds , @newa

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