Peter Durand

Social Innovation Fellows: Design Research

In Design, Pop!Tech, Social Innovation Fellows on October 18, 2010 at 8:55 pm

Why Design? Panthea Lee

Panthea Lee is creative director and co-founder of Reboot, she focuses on leveraging technology to improve international development efforts.

Currently at the Innovation Unit UNICEF, she focuses on leveraging communications and information technology to improve UNICEF programming and service delivery. She graduated from McGill University in Montreal, and has research experience in China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Jordan and Suriname.

Along with Jan Chipchase, Executive Creative Director of Global Insights of Frog Design, she traveled to Central Asia to conduct design research on the introduction of mobile money services, and in particular M-Paisa, have on consumers in Afghanistan.

Panthea describes to the SI Fellows some of  the techniques and tools used in her field research to understand the users values, assumptions, goals and patterns of behavior.

What is Design Research?

Adapted from Designing for Interaction: Creating Innovative Applications and Devices, 2nd Edition, by Dan Saffer.

Design research is the process of using investigative methods to add context to the design process. For the purposes of this discussion, we are mostly referring to user research; that is, research undertaken to understand your users – across the spectrum, both current and potential – and to understand their worlds, using methods largely borrowed from anthropology and sociology.

We use these methods to obtain information about our subjects and their environment that we might otherwise not have known. Doing so means we are better able to design for our subjects and their unique environments. It behooves us to understand not just the broader political, economic, and cultural context that our program, service, or product will exist in, but the emotional and not-always-rational as well.

Only through research can we find out how to best meet our users’ needs.

Design Research

Drawing on insights from users, agents and other eco-system stakeholders, Afghan Mobile Money project documents the impact of the introduction of mobile money services in Afghanistan, through interviews and photo-documentation in three distinct locations.

The Process of Design Research

Emerging Mobile Money Practices in Afghanistan

Afghanistan highlights the potential and challenges of mobile money services: a rapidly growing mobile phone penetration; limited access to fixed banking infrastructure; in a flux of change; high levels of textual, numerical and technical illiteracy; variable access to mains electricity.



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