About Design Design research

Interdisciplinary design

General design research

When was the last time your project quote included "research" as a line item? It is amazing how much stuff gets produced without knowing whether it is going to be effective, and if necessary, how to fix it. Design research can help inform your development process and avoid critical mistakes. The quantitative methods of design research include paper- or web-based surveys and structured interviews. Effective qualitative methods may include unstructured interviews, case studies or reviews of literature pertinent to your project.

Participatory design

Participatory design brings clients and stakeholders into the design process by integrating them in several design stages including: the definition of the design challenge, initial concept development, and subsequent design analysis. Often clients are not fully aware of the specific knowledge they possess that can inform the design process, so they struggle to put form to their ideas in project briefings. A participatory approach can help unearth this knowledge by inviting key stakeholders to help define and develop the design with the design team.


Co-design integrates the end user into the design process, working with them at several design stages to define and inform the design. This approach can offer superior results, especially with public sector design projects – where the public's needs are key. Co-design is end-user focused, rather than stakeholder-focused, because end-users often have a different view of what the design should accomplish.

Research through design

Sometimes it's best to partially develop an idea in order to reveal its strengths and weaknesses before fully committing to implementing a design. Designing and creating simple design mock-ups or fully-developed prototypes are examples of research through design that informs designers and clients in specific ways that other research approaches cannot.