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User Research Methods for Development Engineering: A Study of Method Usage With IDEO’s HCD Connect

[+] Author Affiliations
Mark Fuge, Alice Agogino

University of California, Berkeley, CA

Paper No. DETC2014-35321, pp. V007T07A049; 11 pages
  • ASME 2014 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 7: 2nd Biennial International Conference on Dynamics for Design; 26th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology
  • Buffalo, New York, USA, August 17–20, 2014
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4640-7
  • Copyright © 2014 by ASME


While there is increasing interest in designing for the developing world, one major challenge lies in understanding when to apply different design methods in unfamiliar contexts. This paper uses HCD Connect, an online design case study repository, to compare what types of methods people frequently apply to developing world problems. Specifically, it covers how the following factors correlate to method usage: application area (e.g., farming versus healthcare), affiliation of the person using the method (IDEO designer versus not), and stages of the user research process. We find that designers systematically use certain types of methods for certain types of problems, and that certain methods complement each other in practice. When compared with non-IDEO users, professional designers at IDEO use fewer methods per case and focus on earlier stages of the process that involve data gathering. Our results recommend certain kinds of user research methods for different developing world problems, as well as identifying which research methods complement each other. It also highlights that professionals designing for developing world contexts commit more time to earlier stage data-gathering efforts, rather than in concept generation or delivery, to better understand differences in needs and design contexts.

Copyright © 2014 by ASME



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