April 23, 2022

Recruiting for diversity in qualitative design research

A client asked about whether I had fully considered diversity in the discovery research plans I’d put together for them. They meant had I considered how the plan could possibly cover the right number of different backgrounds and abilities to be representative of their customer base.

They were thinking about diversity in as features of people. I think that’s not quite the right way to think about the problem.

If your goal is to learn about people with different types of neurodiversity (for example) then we should recruit people with different types of neurodiversity. But in design research our goal is often to learn how different people experience some part of the world and then decide how best to design something to support people who experience the world in those different ways. If you call these different ways to experience the world needs” I won’t mind. 1

So instead of doing research with people from many combinations of abilities and backgrounds, we should do research with people who have similar needs, regardless of their personal similarities and differences.

For example

If we’re making a website to present complex information we could try to do research with people from every possible background in our target audience. Or we could think harder and do research to learn more about different ways people with different abilities read and understand complex texts. We could then try to recruit people whose needs are similar regardless of their unique circumstances.

That way, even if we miss someone with a particular combination of ability and background, we can be more sure that the design outcome is going to support their need.


  1. I was never really a fan of the idea of needs” but it’s useful shorthand here.↩︎

March 30, 2022

Ford CX

January 15, 2022

Truck Guy is 85% more handsome than Corolla Guy according to focus groups

Also he’s 76% more resourceful and 100% more likely to have an awesome pet.

bad-research
January 15, 2022

Natural Diamonds are better says Diamond Miner

DeBeersDiamondsChart

bad-research
December 19, 2021

Not enough money to do it right, but plenty of money to do it twice

Adam Savage in VFX Artists React

December 14, 2021

Return to the Office

Every business leader should ask themselves a few questions before demanding that their employees return to the office:

  1. Prior to March 2020, how many days a week were you personally in the office?
  2. How many teams did you directly interface with? What teams did you spend the most time with?
  3. Do you have an office? If you don’t, why not?
  4. What is office culture?
    • What is your specific office’s culture?
  5. Has your business actually suffered because of remote work?
    • If so, how? Be specific.

Ed Zitron in The Atlantic