September 15, 2020
"Though the power of design may not always be easily measured, there are many steps that practitioners can undertake to ensure that they are making informed communication choices, rather than producing artifacts rooted solely in aesthetics.”
I think that from the outside looking in, it is often easy to believe design is about making fun and pretty things for people to look at. The research aspect is often forgotten. The empathetic aspect is often forgotten. The social serving purpose is not considered. This being said, design is about creating wonderful works for the eyes as well. Designing for the visual purpose is something that I fall for sometimes. I’m type and color obsessed and often that excitement can overtake the other factors that make up the project.
Today, the global marketplace demands more than visuals from its creators; they expect results based on research for the dollar. Design skills are considered more valuable if that creator has an understanding of business as well. Visocky O’Grady discusses this in A Designer’s Research Manual. He explains how certain tools can redefine the designer/client relationship. When a designer applies traditional research methods to their work, they put themselves in the position of a consultive role rather than a vendor. These tools, such as market research, subjectivity, communication with target audience, ethnographic data, and web analytics all contribute to ways that designers can better evaluate the project. Furthermore, these valuable tools help designers support their concepts and aesthetics.
Tools to help others believe in my ideas the same way I do? Let me master those!
I’ve seen myself grow in the way I advocate for my own design choices. There is very rarely a reason a designer makes a choice for no reason. Even if one believe it was subconscious, there was some thought process along the way that pushed the designer to pursue that decision. I have learned to retrace my initial steps sometimes, and ask myself what was my thought process here? How does this color connect with the message the type is relaying? What have I seen today or throughout the past week that could have influenced my work? Is there a larger message at play here?
There is always room for these questions. I have heard designers say many times before, “I just thought of it and liked it”. There is nothing wrong with having wonderful ideas, but advocate for them! I find myself getting frustrated when I hear those words, and I have been guilty of this before as well. If you are given a chance to show how off how you think and redefine yourself, then it should always be down with exquisite thought, process, analyzation, and energy.
Visocky O”Grady also defines the many avenues of research. Formative and Summative research can best be useful to gain insight into a topic for design application. In this business, we identify, research, then continue to clarify the problem we are solving. Formative research can range from literature reviews to user testing. Summative research helps designers to frame the outcome of an investigative process. Pretty much, it will assist the designer if they are headed in the right direction- if their original hypothesis or data is flawed or seems to be correct.
One of the reasons I have become excited about research is because of how the amount of knowledge I learn about topics and people I had never taken the time to understand. As I'm learning this semester, I am amazed by the various ways to approach research. My group and I are about to head straight for the investigative processes within our question we are aiming to solve. I am ecstatic to further understand these processes, and unlock new possibilities.
A Designer's Research Manual by Visocky O'Grady