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Know Thy User: The Role of Research in Great Interactive Design

At the recent HOW Interactive Design Conference in Washington DC, I gave a presentation called "Know Thy User: The Role of Research in Great Interactive Design." This 30-minute high-level talk was intended to provide conference attendees with repeatable processes that will help them integrate user research into their interactive projects. Other presenters at the conference went more in-depth into some of the methods mentioned in this talk, but I felt that it was important for attendees to understand the role of specific methods and activities within the research process on any design project.

When I started working as an user experience designer, I had a thousand questions about how to conduct research. I was lucky to have great mentors and have the chance to collaborate with outside practitioners on a variety of projects. They helped me learn how to do everything from recruiting people to facilitating activities to understanding how we could make sense of the data we gathered from them.

When I came to frog, I discovered a deep global research practice with many designers and strategists who have helped me become a more rigorous and creative researcher. I now have fewer questions about how to practice user research, so I'm doing my best to return the help I'd received over the years and answer some questions for those who are new to the role of research in interactive design.

David Sherwin is an interaction design director at frog. He has built his reputation as a design leader, interaction designer, and researcher with 17 years of experience in generating compelling solutions for systemic business problems. David is the author of Creative Workshop: 80 Challenges to Sharpen Your Design Skills and Success by Design: The Essential Business Reference for Designers. You can follow David on Twitter @changeorder.