by Jon Kolko
User-centered design research activities produce an enormous quantity of raw data, which must be systematically and rigorously analyzed in order to extract meaning and insight. Unfortunately, these methods of analysis are poorly documented and rarely taught, and because of the pragmatic time constraints associated with working with clients, there is often no time dedicated in a statement of work to a practice of formal synthesis. As a result, raw design research data is inappropriately positioned as insight, and the value of user-centered research activities is marginalized – in fact, stakeholders may lose faith in the entire research practice, as they don’t see direct return on the investment of research activities.
Design synthesis methods can be taught, and when selectively applied, visual, diagrammatic synthesis techniques can be completed relatively quickly. During Synthesis, Designers visually explore large quantities of data in an effort to find and understand hidden relationships. These visualizations can then be used to communicate to other members of a design team, or can be used as platforms for the creation of generative sketching or model making. The action of diagramming is a way to actively produce knowledge and meaning.
This workshop will introduce various methods of Synthesis as ways to translate research into meaningful insights. Workshop participants will learn about how to manage the complexity of gathered data, and through hands-on exercises, they will apply various synthesis methods to elicit hidden meaning in gathered data.
This hands-on approach is critical for building both confidence and ability with the various synthesis methods that are discussed.
As a result of completing this workshop, attendees will:
Understand how synthesis fits into the larger design process
Understand the theoretical underpinnings of design synthesis as an intellectual problem solving methodology
Be able to apply specific methods of synthesis in their respective careers
This workshop is best suited for between twenty and sixty participants. Participants should be familiar with either qualitative or quantitative research activities (such as ethnography, questionnaires and surveys, contextual inquiry, etc), and will likely hold jobs relating to research, usability, design, “UX”, or marketing. No Design Synthesis experience is required.
1st–4th February 2012