Qualitative Research Consultants Association (QRCA) - QRCA Views Magazine, Spring 2021

By Kay Corry Aubrey n UX Researcher and Trainer n Usability Resources, Inc. n Bedford, Massachusetts n kay@usabilityresources.net Kay: What is generative design research? Liz: With generative design research you are exploring what to design, whereas in more traditional design research you are exploring how to design something. It is design research that relates to the design and development process. Tradi- tionally, you would begin with a request for a proposal and start with an idea, and then you would design and develop based on that idea. Generative design research is figuring out what needs to be designed. What do people really need? What would really make people’s lives better? For example, generative design research is going to start with a big open question about working families versus having a specific brief. The client has a focus, and they have a product or a service that they offer. We start with that and then we get broader and broader and broader. Microsoft wanted us to explore the home PC experience and we said, well wait, at this time a lot of homes do not have PCs, let us explore the home experience. Initially, it feels like you are exploring uncharted territory. You are wandering around aimlessly in a sea of information, knowledge, feelings, and thoughts. You approach it with a big-picture point of view. You have an idea of where you want to go, but you need to start big to find the edges of what to focus on. So that was useful for understanding why some people have PCs, why some people do not, and how they use them. We always go one step bigger, and often two or three steps bigger, to start the exploration when we are doing generative design research. L iz Sanders is an experimental psychologist and a pioneer in generative design research. She is the founder of Make Tools, which leverages participatory human-centered methods for innovation and to address the big challenges we face in today’s world. Liz is also a professor within the design department at The Ohio State University. Kay recently spoke with Liz about her work in a field related to qualitative research that she helped to create. A Conversation with Liz Sanders on Generative Design Research 32 QRCA VIEWS SPRING 2021 www.qrca.org n LUMINARIES n