UX: Exposing the value of design research


At Caplin we don’t take a single path through design research. Like magpies we pick shiny data from multiple sources creating a rich medley of material used to build a colourful picture of the customer and their needs that brings them to life.

Occasionally we still find we have to justify the value that can be gained by undertaking contextual research and customer interviews

Here is a simple example from a recent contextual study I (Head of User Experience at Caplin) undertook in South Africa:

After a hair-raising car ride to the company’s office, we settled down to business with the group corporate treasurer and got the contextual study started.

Lorries and transporters wait to unload at the distribution hub and in jostling for position in the queue they end up taking over the whole road

Halfway through the interview the subject pointed to a white board and mentioned how he used it to keep track of his orders (as the current system has no way of tracking his orders and rates) the participant didn’t see any special significance to the board as it was just the way he worked.

Whiteboard used for tracking

My notes were captured in Livescribe

A clear opportunity that we could have missed if we hadn’t taken the design research into the field.

To design a system that really delights your customers you first have to understand their needs, and the context in which they operate. It’s not rocket science, it just requires some time and effort to get out and study what, where and how they work.

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