So, you need to create a project that involves design research. You’re facing a blank page, and you’re not sure where to start. You might have a research question in the works but are not sure how a project will come together.

You’re among friends!

The project itself is the first thing you design when creating a design research project.

The Now, the Future, and Design

We will use Herbert Simon’s definition of design to guide our thinking.

What is Undesirable Right Now?

What’s the problem you want to fix? What causes pain for the people you are studying? What should be “better”? Part of your research is to define what this is.

How Should Things Be in the Future?

What does a “better” future situation look like for the people you are working with? Can they do things faster? Do they get frustrated less? Are they free when now they are suffering? Part of your research is to define what this is.

What Should You Create?

What can you make that will fix the current problem and make the ideal future possible? Is it a product? Is it a service? Maybe a whole system needs to be designed. How should it be designed so people will want to use it? Part of your research is to discover what and how this should be designed.

Dennis Cheatham

Associate Professor, Communication Design

Miami University