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Research in Creativity Applied to Design

Research is an essential part of any creative process, as it can enhance individual or team efficiency and performance. Conducting well-balanced research of a problem allows designers to develop new products or improve the features of the existing ones instead of copying outdated ideas or technologies. The following essay will examine different stages of research in design, discuss appropriate techniques, as well as quantitative and qualitative variables.

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According to the categorization approach, the basic research in creativity consists of five stages: discovery, definition, planning/elaboration, design, and implementation. Discovery is the initial step towards a successful design project, as it requires creative professionals to develop an observation grid to find relevant ideas (London School of Design and Marketing, n.d.). The elements include environments, users, activities, behaviors, objects, time, and other notions, which are comprehensively examined by the supporters of the A (x4) and 9D observation models (CFC Medialab. n.d.). The methods of brainstorming, simulation, dialogic (multi-perspective) design, environmental (observational) scanning, historical analysis, and video ethnography can be introduced as a part of the discovery stage.

The next phase is the definition, during which the designer determines specific parameters, materials, or a project’s framework. The searching process aims to propose various levels of importance or relevance and use the collection of previously discovered elements (London School of Design and Marketing, n.d.). In addition to the techniques used in the discovery stage, popular definition methods include the analysis of context (user’s natural habitat), critical discourse (social effects), structure, heuristics (interface usability), and SWOT matrix (CFC Medialab, n.d.). The definition is followed by the planning/elaboration phase including generative research and prototyping methods, which focus on concept development of a future product.

The design stage demands careful consideration of all elements defining the product and ends with the creation of a prototype (model) or final artwork. The classic desk research method aims to analyze quantitative variables, represented by numbers or values, and qualitative variables consisting of nominal or ordinal characteristics. The final implementation phase is related to the use of quality assurance, testing, user feedback, and modeling/simulation techniques, which can refine the product and improve its performance.

Another approach to research in design is based on user-inspired methods applicable in various stages of the process. Interviews with experts from different industries, users, or extreme participants with the traits of typical clients can serve as sources of inspiration and help develop professional empathy (Cooper-Wright, 2015). Collective meetings, such as groups sessions and expert panels, might be informative but pose the risk of domination of vocal participants over less active individuals, which limits the diversity of opinions.

Additionally, the analogous experience can be considered because it involves real-world exploration of similar industries and stimulates designers to find practical or unconventional solutions for their client’s problems. The empathy method suggests that the designer might personally use a product or find a substitute way to experience the client’s concerns. Alternatively, quantitative instruments like surveys, data mining, behavior tracking, and guerilla research might be employed to explore the available data and user preferences.

To sum up, research in design is a structured creative process that aims to improve performance and facilitate the development of new products. The stages of discovery, definition, elaboration, design, and implementation involve the use of various methods and techniques to reach specific goals of each phase. Different quantitative and qualitative variables might be analyzed in the process of design to ensure the quality of an end product.

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CFC Medialab. (n.d.). Design research techniques. Web.

Cooper-Wright, M. (2015). 12 design research methods to get inspired by users. Web.

London School of Design and Marketing. (n.d.). Lesson #5 – Basic research in creativity applied to design. LSDM.

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