Todd Wilkens

Adaptive Path

The Transformative Power of Research
51 minutes, 23.5mb, recorded 2007-02-13
Todd Wilkens

What does it take to create great design experiences? User-Centered Design is built on the principle that focusing on people will lead to better design. In attempting to understand consumers, companies tend to overlook the messy complexities of life, resulting in incomplete ideas about their customers' behavior. Empathy and insight are needed to fundamentally change generative research and design.

"Thou shalt understand people," the first UCD commandment, is key to achieving empathy. This requires a thorough study of individuals--complete with complexities and emotions. The recent rise of ethnography and company-employed anthropologists is a testament to the importance of adopting a holistic way of viewing people.

The second commandment, "Thou shalt get that understanding into your design," addresses the difficulty of integrating contextual research into the design process. Insight that is traditionally buried in research reports can stay fresh through the creation of honest personas. Researchers and developers can work in tandem with designers to tear down walls, producing clear, straightforward deliverables.

The way organizations see customers is improved with the adoption of a new way of thinking about people. Understanding the relationship between motivations and behaviors underscores the importance of emotional connections. By embracing complexity, insight is increased rather than reduced. When properly executed, this insight reinvigorates the design practice.


Todd Wilkens is the design researcher for Adaptive Path. Thanks to over a decade of experience in research and design he holds a passionate belief that focusing on and truly understanding people allows us to create products and services that provide compelling experiences and real value.


This free podcast is from our Adaptive Path series.

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