People Centred Research: A Practical Exploration

Using design research methods in the field, to develop robust insights and design opportunity spaces; based on real people’s needs and desires

Workshop Dates: July 4th – 8th, 2016

Keywords: user-centred design, design research, people-centred, interviews, research methods, people, analysis, ethnography, insights, users, customers


This course encompasses a set of methods and interactions with people 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 ethnography. Like ethnography academics, the design researcher attempts first and foremost to make sense of the world (behaviours, attitudes, belief systems, etc.) and then distil this understanding into meaning — generalised insights that reinforce or challenge our understanding of a design challenge and inspire solutions.

Volksbedarf statt luxusbedarf / People’s needs instead of the needs of luxury
Hannes Meyer,  Bauhaus 1930

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 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 synthesizers who open themselves to knowledge and inspiration from unexpected sources.

This workshop’s capacity is 15 participants.

Learning expectations:

  • Learn the fundamental tools and methods of people-centred design and develop a process framework for projects.
  • Learn a process that focuses on discovering new design directions, rather than executing them.
  • Experience a deep dive into field research techniques, team based analysis, storytelling of research data and the translation from insights to ideas.
  • Share, discuss, and challenge the meaning and opportunities design research presents.

Prerequisites: Participants should have a high level of spoken and written English.

CIID Consulting