Market Research vs Design Research

Why do you need Design Research to obtain better results in your company?

Thinkers Co Blog Market Research vs Design Research

Differences between Design Research and Market Research

In Thinkers Co. we have always talked about the importance of keeping the user as the main axis of your projects, as dictated by the methodology of Design Thinking. To do this, it is a key to carry out a deep research with which we immerse ourselves in the reality of their tastes, fears, pain points and needs. This is what Design Research is all about, which, through design thinking tools, achieves extracting insights or solid pieces of evidence about the user that goes beyond the intuition of the designer or developer.

First of all, we want to qualify the differences between Design Research and Market Research , as they are commonly confused. The Market Research analyses macro data and theoretical approaches that are usually financial. In this way, market niches with a business opportunity can be identified. 

On the contrary, Design Research serves to obtain evidence on the beliefs we have of our user, or deny them. Its objective is to reach a deep knowledge about their problems and needs, through the obtaining of conclusions derived from their lived experiences, in order to create products and services that provide real value.

The success of a product or service on the market is guaranteed when it brings value to users.

How to carry out a Design Research

1. Define the factors and context of the user

The methods used in Design Research are based on anthropological and ethnographic principles that clarify and define complex human needs and behaviors. When user-centered research is initiated, fieldwork tools such as Safari, Field Visit or Shadowing are often used first, helping to define the factors in the user’s environment that can condition his impressions and actions.

2. Interviews with the user

However, the most important phase of Design Research is interviews with the user. Designers must have a full understanding of research, so it is recommended that they lead or at least participate in the interviews. A simple report or document is not enough, if not that is in the face to face with the user where the designer will capture the needs and insights that will lead to creating an experience that impresses customers.

3. Align the research with the business goals

On the other hand, the designer also has to know perfectly what the company’s specific objectives are concerning its design. Do not assume that the design team is aligned with the knowledge of your interests or understands the corporate vision. It may happen that while information is passed from one person to another due to bureaucratic issues, it is diluted or contaminated. When the project finally reaches the department in charge of devising the product and service, the requirements are not clear and, as a result, the final design will not meet expectations.

4. Transform all of the information into insights

Once the raw data and printouts have been obtained, it is time to transform all that information into insights. There are tools that help to process and sort information to make it more accessible, such as Key Facts, Insights Cluster or Matrix 2×2. To capture the insights in a visual way it is essential to use the tools Persona, Stakeholders Map, Empathy Map, etc. With them we will have a clear image of who our user is and what he thinks, sees, hears, feels and does. Finally, insights must be translated into actionable formats, i.e. these information capsules must be converted into design concepts. For this step, in Thinkers Co. we use the Design Challenge tool to pass from dare to challenge and focus on the ideation.

Benefits of the Design Research

All these techniques provide results that are rich in information and user experience, giving the design team a foundation of good concepts.

In spite of everything, some companies omit the Design Research phase because they think that it will not be a good investment of resources. Some of the most common myths are to think that they already know their users because they have been working for the company for a long time or to think that everyone could be its user.

Any user could be our client. We can’t investigate them all.

Although a product or service can be used by a multitude of different clients, when thinking about it you have to keep in mind only one user, for whom you are creating the ideal experience, although later adaptations to other user archetypes may arise. Trying to cover everyone from the beginning is not a valid goal, because, in the end, the result will not add value to anyone. Therefore, remember, a single user can be representative of a large number of customers , which can be transformed into multiple marketing segments.

In short, as we have seen, Design Research produces rich and accurate results in short periods. The resources we invest in research will reduce the number of future design errors and therefore require fewer iterations. The more you know the user, the product or service you believe will have a greater impact and better reception among your customers, which translates into success for your company.

Updated at 02/12/2020

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