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Human Centered Design Innovation

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Human Centered Design Innovation


Chulalongkorn University C/o Department of Industrial Design,School of Architecture,Bangkok10330

THAILAND, Praima.C@chula.ac.th

Abstract: User information is an important source of human centered design innovation. Through the investigation of

forty-seven human centered case studies collected from leading design consulting firms, this study aims to establish the

relationship between user research and design innovation, to identify the research characteristics and investigation

models critical to each innovation situation, and to discuss where, why, and how the research and analysis should be

done so that information is gathered efficiently and is available to the team at the right time in the multi-disciplinary

design process. The investigation involves in-depth interviewing with design directors, project managers, design

researchers, and designers from twenty-three leading design consulting firms. Each interview was recorded, transcribed,

analyzed, scored and compared on non-continuous and semantic scales. The results reveal four major patterns of user

research correlated with innovation situations that combine variations on technology and market. Distinct patterns of

user research underpin design in each innovation situation. These can be identified according to investigation models

and research characteristics. This study suggests new approaches to user research planning, an alternative mental model

of design innovation, and a different way of describing user research in relation to design innovation. The investigation

reveals how user research should be planned, conducted and tailored for each innovation situation.

Key words: user research, human-centered design, innovation, design planning, design process

1. Introduction

While a new idea is a thought about something new or unique, and making that idea real is an invention,

innovation is an invention that has a socioeconomic effect; innovation changes the way people live [1]. User

information is an important source of new product ideas (of what should be designed), which has the potential to

redirect a company’s technology capabilities toward an entirely revolutionary innovation. Having recognized the

primary importance of understanding how people interact with design, many research methods are borrowed from

the social sciences both to 1) understand, credibly explain and predict human behavior in the pre-design process

[2] and 2) to measure how people perceive, understand, remember, and learn in the design evaluation process [3].

While understanding current human behaviors is a goal of social science research, design requires the application

of such understanding, turning it into innovation. Thus, designers struggle with the methodological implications of

conducting user research to support design.

This study aims to better understand the relationship between user research and design innovation and to

identify where, why, and how the research and analysis should be done so that information is gathered efficiently

and is available to the team at the right time in the multi-disciplinary design process.

2. Innovation

The relationship between business growth and innovation is widely understood by executives today as has been

written by a number of consultants and business scholars such as Richard Foster (1986), James M. Utterback

(1994), Clayton Christensen (1997), and Richard Leifer (2000). These authors agree that incremental innovation

can keep the company competitive with current platforms, but only radical innovation can provides a platform for

the long term growth that corporate leaders seek [4,5,6,7].

Scholars have long distinguished between what Christensen (1997) calls sustaining and disruptive technological

innovations, although not always in those words. For example, James March (1991) made a distinction between

exploitation of existing technology and exploration of new technology [8]. Leifer (2000) places innovations into

two categories: incremental and radical innovation. Along the same line in relation to design, John Heskett (1997)

proposed four design innovation strategies to be decided by the organization in any given situation. The strategies

include: no change, incremental detail change, radical redefinition of basic concepts, and fundamental innovation.

According to Heskett, design projects usually begin with business objectives, which fall into one of the four

innovative strategies, based on market situation, a company’s willingness to spend and capability to innovate [9].

There has been no investigation establishing the relations between innovation and user research in design. As

the objectives of this study is to understand how different types of user research are conducted and applied in each

innovation situation. It is necessary to develop innovation classification in a way that is meaningful to this study.

From literature review, observation, case studies, expert interview, and intensive analysis, the ‘Design Innovation




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