The dilemmas we face when running interviews in the field.

One of the biggest questions we face in the field pertains to bias. In every interview we construct, we — design researchers- strive for consistency. If the conditions of the experiment are identical, the results will be void of bias.

Or so the narrative goes.

In reality, bias exists under many forms. It may be introduced by the interviewer, which is what we seek to minimize through replicable protocols. It exists, too, in interviewees. …


Why design researchers need to think about processes, too.

Design researchers have a tough job. In what could be considered a record time, they must build rapport — ethically and sincerely — with individuals about to disclose highly personal, sensitive stories. At least, this is true in my line of work, since I work primarily in healthcare.

Of course, we are armed with techniques, trained with tools that help us build and maintain that connection. This, after all, is what our training prepares us for.

When I shifted from a one-person endeavour to building a scalable team, however, I quickly…


How designers can bring clarity to decision-makers

Service Blueprints are notorious for improving the user experience. In the case of a larger-scale project, this tool can act as a map for alignment and coordination between various initiatives. This is a function few tools currently provide for decision-makers.

In this article, we first discuss how the service blueprint could be a useful tool for strategic planning and project coordination. We then highlight tangible activities at the lines of interaction, visibility and internal interaction that can help a design researcher better map the ecosystem and identify possibilities for program evaluations.

Quality Improvement Project Scope

One way to help visualize the scope of possible…


Inspired by Ian Chipchase’s reflections on characteristics of popup studios.

With remote design research work also comes challenges when it comes to setting up an environment that can truly inspire dialogue and engagement with participants.

Collaborative workspaces such as Mural have cleverly reproduced the concept of rooms and boards, which mimic real-life spaces.

As we were thinking through a series of workshops, we needed to find digital equivalents of what would have normally been an in-person experience. How could we functionally reproduce the most typical environments?

Interestingly, for projects that span multiple sessions, the environment can be set up once, creating rituals for the team. Mural in particular lends itself…


Simple ways to help build trust, connection and presence

This graph, taken from The Field Study Handbook (Jan Chipchase) shows the emotional journey of participants during the interview process.

For participants, the whole process of interviews can be a jumble of excitement, curiosity and stress.

There is a certain degree of self-disclosure required in the process which makes one vulnerable, as they share their struggles, hopes and realities with strangers.

It is our job, therefore, as design researchers, to do everything in our power to respectfully support and hold space for our interviewees.

The Interview’s Real Start

The period immediately preceding interviews, when the team is still negotiating the interview and its logistics with participants, is an ideal time to start building trust. One way in which we’ve done this is through building…


A new way to identify, select and test scenarios

Complex Processes

Anyone working with cases and scenarios for process-heavy projects knows the pain of keeping track of which to model, demo and test.

Simulations require humanly-digestible illustrative examples for team alignment.

Process-heavy projects typically have many decision-nodes branching off into the logic flow.

For the team, this translates into the following issues.

Product Owner & Analyst:

  • “How do I validate my understanding with subject matter experts?”
  • “How do I validate data formats with third-party integrators?”
  • “What do I demo for client approval?”

Test Lead:

  • “How can I configure the test data?”
  • “What should my test cases be?”
  • “How can I systematically automate my test cases?”

Simulation Analyst:

  • “ How…

Stickers eligibility, selection and display

Part of my work involves imagining the logic of systems, which can be quite an abstract work. Filled with business rules and spreadsheets, this work nonetheless has very tangible repercussions for a user.

Take, for instance, the stickers system we designed on one of the major retail mandate in Europe.

When you navigate to their landing and product page, this is what you would see.

The label on the top left of the image is added by the system following a series of qualifying business rules.

Each label has its own criteria for eligibility, and the system cycles through each…


We used Swiss Design Fonts as an an example!

New York City’s Subway typeface is the famous Helvetica | Image Source: nyhabitat.com

As we were starting to design our Field Guides for field observation, we opted for a grid system with a Swiss Design aesthetic. As for every project, we created a collection of grids and fonts we could easily tap into throughout the project. This article covers the selection and organization of font to help you build your own library and workflow.

Acquiring Fonts

There are many places where you may acquire fonts. If you have an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, Adobe has an interesting collection. This article linked to free alternatives for each Classic font mentioned.

Organizing your Fonts


Adding a filter in your interview analysis software

On projects, it is not uncommon to use frequencies or other quick statistical queries to explore the lexicon used by your interview participants. Stop Words Lists are re-usable lists of…

Corina Paraschiv

Health Care Designer, Technophile and Experimenter

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