Step 1: Research for design

With no research, there is no design.

And it isn’t (or, it doesn’t have to be) a long and expensive process.

Design research (as opposed to market research, or scientific research, for example) is simply about seeing and understanding things through the lens of design: finding the ‘scent’ of a good idea.

Research has always been a part of my practice as a writer and designer: understanding the business and technology, visiting customers on site to understand their lives, and testing products before and after they’ve been made.



  • Field study (aka ‘ethnographic research’): visiting customers in their own environments to understand their problems and requirements. Not asking what they want, but watching what they do.
  • Informal ‘guerrilla’ user testing: showing people ideas or prototypes and watching how they use them, then talking about problems and improvements. Cheap, quick, effective.
  • Formal (lab-based) user testing. More expensive than guerrilla testing and not always as effective, but useful for proving or validating products.
  • A/B testing.
  • Preference testing (like A/B testing, but with more talking – so that you know why people prefer one option to another).


Contact me now if you’re interested in design research or user testing.

Forget surveys and spreadsheets. Give me 5 users for an hour, and I will transform your business.