Research is a key part of service design and one that is often overlooked, or not given enough time to, in the early stages of the project. The goal of research is to establish a full understanding of the needs and requirements of your users and relevant stakeholders.
There are many different types of research and plenty of resources available on the internet to help you. 60 ways to understand user needs would be a great place to start. For the demonstrator projects we used a very particular type of research called Ethnography.
Ethnographic research is a powerful research method that can be used either within the context of a specific programme of service design, or to meet other research needs in place of other research techniques. Ethnography is particularly powerful in understanding current behaviours and attitudes, and will often yield far more insight than the use of other qualitative research techniques (such as interviews or focus groups).
- Make sure you plan in advance a reasonable timeframe to get in touch with people and book them in
- Start with lots of potential participants as many will drop out
- Think carefully about gifts/incentives for taking part, and get these signed off
- Check if you need approval from the Research Governance Board