Do you know the feeling when you have a new idea and you start thinking about how it could look, what features it could have, what kind of impact on the market it could leave? I think it is common mindset to be eager to get all the answers before we start asking the questions.
This happens to me very often as well. I think of some cool new innovation, start feeling the rush, making up the possible features, thinking of different problems that could happen and so on. It takes some time for me to stop, take a deep breath and actually start asking questions.
There are always important aspects to consider such as: Who is the target audience? Who is the competition and what are the differences of our product? Why is it useful? Not knowing the problem space is like throwing darts blindfolded. You can only hope you are even facing the right direction.
King asking the right questions
One has to know what questions to ask. The trick here is to not let yourself believe that you have all the right answers. As I have written in my previous blog, it can be complicated to deeply believe in outcome when you are doing research.
It is way better approach to teach yourself to be skeptical and curious about the world around you. Instead of starting with idea, start with a question. Why is it that…? Make WHY your most fundamental starting point.
Once you have the question, go research it. Find out the true facts and not just opinions or assumptions. Use thorough research methods to remove biases that would otherwise invalidate your outcomes. This is a job for a researcher – person who is there to “find the problems”.
The wizard with all the answers
To make something successful, you have to resolve issues that are plaguing others – your users. Therefore, it is next logical step to use the problems you have uncovered and build potential solutions for those problems. It is important that this is not done the other way around. You should never look for problems to your solutions.
Yet, so often the solutions precede the problems. There can be multiple reasons for that, such as micromanaging leaders who think they know better than anybody else, incorrectly distributed responsibilities within team or even improperly handled project.
Either way, I believe that the time to look for answers in a form of solutions is the moment you need designers. And that is where I see the main difference between researchers and designers. While researchers gather the questions and problems, designers have skillset that enables them to provide answers and find solutions.
A happy kingdom
These two categories of people have different mindsets. Researchers are there to find problems, designers are there to find solutions. If you allow researcher too much control, there will be infinite problems with no resolution. If you allow designer too much control, there will be brilliant solutions to non-existing problems. A balance is needed between looking for facts and building up on them.
From my experience, the best way to handle the responsibilities is to first let the researcher do her part and after that gradually transfer that power to designer who will work her magic on creating the best design.
It is important that these two are constantly communicating. Designers should be aware of the research and the problems as they are uncovered. Researcher on the other hand should still be present when designer is working to guide her through the research outcomes and provide feedback.
These two mindsets are rather different, each serving a unique purpose, both being equally important. Do not mix them up in incorrect way.