Designing for Interaction: Design ResearchHere is a sample chapter from Dan Saffer's Designing for Interaction. In this chapter Dan offers a good commentary on Design Research -- what it is, why do it and how it can be done.
"Imagine a zoo where the zookeepers don't know anything about animals, and they don't bother to find out about the animals' natural habitat, dietary needs, or natural predators. The zookeepers keep the animals in metal cages, group the animals randomly together, and feed them whatever they have around. Now imagine the chaos that ensues and the unhappy (or worse: sick or dead) animals that would be the result. Not the type of place you'd want to take your kids to. Our fictional zoo is the state of a lot of the products and services today, albeit not so extreme. While most businesses do have strong interest in their customers and put considerable amount of money into their products and services, a lot of that money is poorly spent. If only a small bit of the typical time, money, and resources used to make and market a product or service were put towards design research—observing, talking to, and maybe even making artifacts with customers and users—the products and services we use would be greatly improved."[Via Infodesign]
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