Research Methods

An overview of some of the research methods I use.

User-Centered Innovation

During my Innovation Mandate (funded by VLAIO), I developed an innovation approach combining a company’s internal innovation vision (based on Verganti’s approach) with insights from user research.

For SCIA, this work aligned various internal ideas on innovation, resulting in a three-part innovation strategy.

Ethnographic Research

In a project on plastic nose surgery, our aim was to facilitate communication between doctor and patient on the desired outcome of the surgery. We conducted multimodal ethnographic research to analyze how patients communicate their needs, by talking about their nose, pointing to it, and using pictures.

This research resulted in the development of a dedicated patient screen. This screen optimizes time use during the appointment: while the doctor engages in administrative tasks, patients can look at a visualisation of their future nose shape from different angles.

User Journeys

I co-ordinated user research in a project on fertility treatment (IVF). We used user journeys to map the patients’ experiences during the process of IVF treatment.

These journeys allowed us to pinpoint key moments in which an app can support couples in treatment.

Participatory Design

Outcomes of participatory design with children can be very difficult to interpret. Together with Maarten Van Mechelen, I developed a structured method to analyze childrens’ creations.

Research Games

In order to gather user requirements, I’ve explored the use of game formats to gain insight in the way people work, their priorities, etc.

Design Fiction

“It was just what, Nick? A game of massively multiplayer fraud? A first-person swindling game? What was it?”

Design fiction is a way to explore future possibilities using fiction. Building on my background in literary studies, I explored the use of short stories to explore the implications of future technologies.

Below, you can read my story NewSchoolGate, which I wrote in the context of a conference paper on the future of educational technology. It’s a story about a schoolboy who managed to hack his school’s online learning system.

Read the story on Google Drive.

Appropriation and Unintended Use

To research appropriation and unintended use, I build on semiotics to explore the relation between the design of technology, and users’ unintended use of the technology. This work focuses on the tension between design strategies and user tactics. Design strategies are strategic design choices, created to guide users. User tactics, on the other hand, are contextualized practices, in which users can reinterpret, and even subvert the original design intentions.