TBP’s 20th anniversary: the design research diaries 1993-2013 (Entry 15)


It’s our twentieth anniversary! We have been posting insights each day for the past twenty days in the countdown and today is the last- entry 15. Today we say show, don’t tell

Our 20th anniversary is here! Each day for the past twenty days we have been sharing from the TBP vaults our insights and musings on design and design research. We hope you’ve enjoyed them; here’s our last one.

Entry 15 of 15: Show, don’t tell

fly on the wall

To most, ‘design’ means those things with a tangible functional benefit. Like that clever Airblade Tap by Dyson, or the natty shoe bag by Puma. But much good design is invisible – we’re unaware of its powerful effect on us. And even if we are aware of it, it can be pretty hard to put into words.

Which makes design research an interesting challenge, really. How do you understand the effect a design is having on people, when they themselves either can’t express it, or – worse – don’t even know it’s happening?

That’s where behavioral methodologies come in.

By observing how consumers act in the presence of a new design, we see its true impact. So if it’s new packaging – do they see it, do they pick it up? If it’s a new bottle, how do they hold it, where does it live in their home?

In this way, we’re not reliant upon consumers to tell us how it affects them – they show us.

By Stuart Chapman