Carbon Design Group

The Value of User-Centered Research in Product DevelopmentDecember 15th, 2011

User-Research Panel Discussion

On December 6th, IDSA’s Northern Ohio Chapter presented a panel discussion on User-Centered Research. Sponsored by IDSA, Moen, Diebold, Balance Product Development, Lextant, Omnitek, and The Technology House, the event was held at the Chagrin Falls Little Theatre. The panel featured Judy Riley (VP of Global Design, Moen), Jeff Hyde (Managing Director, Ideas in Focus), Dave Loomis (Director of Consulting Services, NACCO Industries), and Linda Wagner (Director of Research, Carbon Design Group). An audience packed with designers, researches, and students was treated to a lively discussion primed with the Henry Ford quote: “If I’d asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.”

Marty Gage, VP of Research for Lextant moderated the evening and kept discussion focused with a set of targeted questions including: Can consumers lead us to innovative solutions or do they stifle creativity? Can you create a truly successful product experience without involving the end user in the design process? And even simply, “How do you define User-Centered Research?” Approaches, methods, and stories were shared as useful tools to include the user in the development process.  

Left to right: Linda Wagner, Jeff Hyde, Judy Riley, Dave Loomis, and Marty Gage.

Leveraging User Research for Business Success

At Carbon user research is a key tool we use to help ensure our work resonates with users and emotionally connects them to our clients’ brands. “To me, user-centered research simply means involving the end user in the design process,” explains Carbon’s Linda Wagner. “The questions of when, how much, and in what ways we involve them will vary with the context of a given project. Users help us understand what people value, and, as such, help us define opportunity and develop strategy,” says Wagner. This insight can be pivotal at the beginning of a project, but including user input at strategic points in the process can help ensure teams stay focused on delivering great user experiences.

Carbon’s Linda Wagner explains how user research is valuable throughout the development process.

Well, that, or it was a really big fish.


Photos courtesy Jack Gee.








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