The map of the house is a great analogy. Many details regarding the homeowners preferences need to be known before the construction crew starts building. Why do they wat the sink here, or over there? Where is the ceiling to be vaulted? Which direction do they want the staircase to face, and why? We need to know this stuff.
Sadly, so often we see a high amount of engineering effort go into product development before the "house plans" have been sketched in, even at a primary level.
Good point Nancy. Sometimes it is a matter of doing the most you can with the small amount of resourced available at the beginning of a project. This is just reality. And you are correct, WAY too many R&D people just think, "I would do it this way", or "this seems to work for me". These people may be from Mars, and actual users may be from Venus!
"Finally, some people claim that doing design research puts too much restraint on their creativity. Ironically, a robust design research process actually gives you a lot of design freedom. Even better, it points you more directly to where the majority of all your creative energies should be focused, which can drastically increase product development efficiency and innovation."
I think this is a very fair statement. I would think the challenge is determining how much up front research is enough - striking a balance between the amount of research to be done and when to move into the next phase. Also, understanding your target audience is key - usability feedback must be from actual users rather than people from a generalized group that fall into a predefined category.
A very valid point you have made. What doesn't work on paper will definitely not work in real life. Plus a well-researched project does progress at a better rate and actually has a chance of making it to the finish line.
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