This course encompasses a set of activities and interactions with people that are intended to inspire the process of design. Using an understanding of people to inform design decisions is a foundation of people-centred design. People-centred research methods draw heavily from the tradition of cultural anthropology, in particular ethnography.

Like academicians in anthropology, the design researcher attempts first and foremost to make sense of the world (behaviours, attitudes, belief systems, etc.) and then distill this understanding into meaning — generalised insights that reinforce or challenge our understanding of a design challenge and inspire solutions.

During this course, the distinction between ‘sense making’ and ‘meaning making’ will be a recurring theme. At its core, people-centred research is about helping designers draw inferences about what’s important: the essential elements of the user experience that can drive and inspire solution development.

People-centred research is a chance to invite into the design process a set of views and perspectives that designers may have failed to anticipate by considering only their own experiences or values.

People centred research doesn’t force design decisions or reveal a straightforward path from problem to solution. Rather, it is a capability that allows designers to add deep context to their understanding of a design challenge and to translate what’s most meaningful into more tangible expression.

Finally, it is a practice that refreshes the designer’s mind. It’s a humble and collaborative activity that helps designers stay more finely tuned to their surroundings and the beliefs and ideas of others. Design researchers are good listeners and synthesisers who open themselves to knowledge and inspiration from unexpected sources.

CIID students acquire skills in people research and gain an understanding of the role research plays in the context of interaction and service design. In collaboration with external stakeholders, students gain first-hand experience with field research techniques, team-based synthesis, co-creation and insight generation.