People Centered Research

An Intro

This class on People Centered Research or PCR taught me a new method for identifying service or product opportunities through techniques like user interviews, data analysis, co creation and prototyping. Unlike traditional methods of product or service development, PCR lets you work with your audience or users from Day 1. In many ways, here you are co creating a service with your users and iterating the concept several times based on their feedback and insights. Here, since you are working with your audience directly during development of the concept and prototype, the chances of failure is significantly reduced as you get rich insights from them about what works and what doesn’t.

Eilidh Dickson and Francesca Desmarais

Our Teachers

Two of the best teachers we had till date were from this class: Eilidh Dickson and Francesca Desmarais. They were incredibly supportive and provided us with end to end resources, tools, tricks and tips and most of all very rich knowledge. Eilidh graduated from CIID’s pilot year and has been one of the earliest team members, she has an extensive background in service and interaction design.

Francesca is an interaction and service designer at CIID consulting and has an extensive background in people centred research and prototyping. Moreover, she also has a strong background in environmental and social design.


people centered research CIID

The PCR course ran for two weeks and the concept that was developed for this was also extended to the following courses of Video and Experience Prototyping. In these two weeks, we were able to form teams and develop different concepts using PCR techniques. An overview of the PCR methodology can be explained using the diagram above from our class.

Here, we first start off with Research and Analysis by doing in depth interviews with the target group. After which we use the relevant insights we gained from the process to identify opportunities and frame concepts and ideas around it. This is then followed by co creation with the target group, where we build the concept together. And finally we test the concept using a low fidelity prototype with different people and iterate.

In this class, we were given a brief about identifying and building services or products that can foster intergenerational exchange. The idea being to allow people from different age groups to socialise and get mutually benefitted from this exchange. Through this brief we were able to work on the field in the first week itself with the interviews that were arranged for us with people who could give us insights on this topic. Our schedule for the two weeks were as follows:

people centered research CIID

Week 1:

Week 1 mainly consisted of learning and hosting in-depth interviews with different people of the target group. We were exposed to a range of tools, tips and tricks to allow us to get the most out of an interview. The following are the three kinds of interviews we did:

  1. In-context interviews
    Here, we talked to potential members who would love to engage in an intergenerational activity.
  2. Expert interviews
    This consisted of talking to people who have already worked on similar projects before. The objective being to learn as much as we can from their experience.
  3. Observation & Guerrilla interviews
    Visiting a place that usually caters to such intergenerational exchanges and observing how people interact with each other was something else that we did. Moreover, talking to random people who we feel could be excited about this idea without personally knowing them beforehand usually leads to quite exciting insights.

Week 2:

Week 2 mainly consisted of downloading all the data we got from week 1 and analysing it together. We were exposed to many techniques of doing this such as by using concept mapping, insight formulation, clustering themes, etc. This then converged to arriving at an opportunity we identified from all these data. Furthermore, we then co created these concepts with our target group and tested out low fidelity prototypes.

people centered research CIID


STORYTHREAD: Somayeh Ranjbar, Arvind Sanjeev, Matt Visco

People Centered Research began with a brief asking us to investigate ways to foster inter-generational exchange. The course spanned two weeks. The first week was focused on data collection and research, the second week was focused on analysis and ideation.

Our first objective as a team was to formulate a statement of intent to help guide our research. Our statement of intent was “Our goal is to discover how to bring generations together through hands-on activities that are both educational and socially impactful while fostering an environment that is social and pleasurable.”

After collecting and analyzing our data we generated a few key insights. Our main insights were “As people age, speaking openly and bluntly becomes more attractive and can help break social barriers” and “Your desire to tell stories is proportional to your desire to meet new people.” These insights were then turned into a brainstorming question which we used to ideate.

After brainstorming potential solutions we pulled out our favorite themes from those ideas and created three succinct ideas. Our ideas included a bench that starts asking questions if there are two or more people sitting, a ‘Cheeky Aid Box’ that would help people be a bit more cheeky if they were in uncomfortable scenarios, and a podcast app that allowed people to collaboratively create podcasts. With these ideas we then created concept maps which helped explain how it works, the value, the user journey, etc. We then set back out into the field and tested out rough prototypes with respondents in order to receive their feedback. We then returned to our three ideas and decided how to come up with one strong idea that accounts for most of the feedback received.

people centered design CIID

Our final concept, StoryThread, is focused on story-telling. StoryThread stations would be distributed throughout a city where people can hear or read stories that have been made by a random collection of people. If people are interested in these stories, they can decide to add their own piece. Through this collaborative story making our hope is that people will both enjoy the process and feel part of a larger community. We felt that story-telling is a craft that all ages appreciate and it is a simple way to allow for different generations to share their unique perspectives.

Moreover, this project has been continued into the following 2 weeks and the final version of this concept can be seen in the course "Experience Prototyping". Also, more projects from this class can be seen here: People Centered Research projects.

This is just a short intro to my life at CIID, I will be publishing more posts on the different topics we learn as well as the projects we do through this blog. Furthermore, all the credits to the media content for this blog goes to the IDP class of 2017.

Add your comment