User Research Methods for Development Engineering: A Study of Method Usage with IDEO's HCD Connect

Mark Fuge and Alice Agogino, Proceedings of the ASME International Design Engineering Technical Conferences (2014).


While there is increasing interest in designing for the developing world, one major challenge lies in understanding when to apply different design methods in unfamiliar contexts. This paper uses HCD Connect, an online design case study repository, to compare what types of methods people frequently apply to developing world problems. Specifically, it covers how the following factors correlate to method usage: application area (e.g., farming versus healthcare), affiliation of the person using the method (IDEO designer versus not), and stages of the user research process. We find that designers systematically use certain types of methods for certain types of problems, and that certain methods complement each other in practice. When compared with non-IDEO users, professional designers at IDEO use fewer methods per case and focus on earlier stages of the process that involve data gathering. Our results recommend certain kinds of user research methods for different developing world problems, as well as identifying which research methods complement each other. It also highlights that professionals designing for developing world contexts commit more time to earlier stage data-gathering efforts, rather than in concept generation or delivery, to better understand differences in needs and design contexts.

BibTeX Citation

    address = {Buffalo, U.S.A.},
    author = {Mark Fuge and Alice Agogino},
    booktitle = {ASME International Design Engineering Technical Conferences},
    day = {17-20},
    month = aug,
    title = {User Research Methods for Development Engineering: A Study of Method Usage with IDEO's HCD Connect},
    year = {2014}