DESIGN RESEARCH, MENA PROJECTS, PUBLISHED, RESEARCH METHOD

Konfikit Published in User Research & Experience Book

The first MENA Design Research Center project, which was a cultural probe kit called Konfikit (2010), is now published in the globally acclaimed 2nd edition of the book ‘Observing the User Experience: A Practitioner’s Guide to User Research’. The 600- page text book is written by Elizabeth Goodman, Mike Kuniavsky, and Andrea Moed, and published by Morgan Kaufmann Publishers (an imprint of Elsevier).

Excerpt from Back Cover: Observing the User Experience is a groundbreaking, comprehensive resource for user experience research. For over a decade, it has helped readers better understand what their users want and need from their products and whether users will be able to use what they’ve created. This second edition improves upon a classic, adding new methods and approaches to meet today’s challenging and diverse research requirements.

 Reviews:
You’ll like Mike Kuniavsky’s broad selection of practical user research methods–presented clearly and usably. And you’ll like his timing too: while recent books focus on the whys of user experience, many are now ready for the hows. Observing the User Experience does just that: It demonstrates how to discover what is in users’ heads, and suggests how we might balance those considerations with business objectives.–Lou Rosenfeld, co-author of Information Architecture for the World Wide WebWow! So many of the user experience research methods we have refined and used over the years are now organized and described in detail in one book. It is an essential reference for any practitioner.
Christian Rohrer, Manager, User Experience Research, Yahoo!

We would like to thank Elizabeth Goodman, for contacting us and finding our project suitable for the book, our client Toufoula, and all the illustrators and designers who contributed to making the Konfikit a beautiful research method.

Link to book on Amazon

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DESIGN RESEARCH, DESMEEM

One Week Workshop with Pia Drechsel

Last week Pia Drechsel, Co-Founder of Design Research Company and Part-time lecturer in Germany spent a week in Beirut with each team of DESMEEMERS to guide them through their research methods and ideation process. With one-on-one sessions with each team, she helped them define their precise targets and gave advice as well as examples from her previous experience while working on such projects. She also introduced various ways of collecting and visualizing data, each based on specific criteria that would help the teams better analyze the vast information they have now accumulated through their desk and field research.

Pia was later interviewed at the end of the workshop. Sh expressed great enthusiasm and excitement for the outcomes of each team, and looks forward to Beirut Design Week, which she will attend with her company partner Bianca Bender.

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DESIGN RESEARCH, SOCIAL INNOVATION

Why Design Research is Important for the Arab World Now

Photo by Ravy Shaker

The political scene in the MENA region is now at the epitome of historical breakthrough, we are the generation that is experiencing a revolution like none other in our region- on a multitude of dimensions and scales. The Arab Spring has revealed to the world that this region, whose peoples have been forced to deal with ongoing political strife and social conflict for decades, is now fervently undergoing a period of massive change. What is more surprising to the world however, is that for the first time we see the Western world taking initiative from the uprisings of the Arab peoples and re-manifesting that rage towards their own political and social systems. Considering the fact that the Arab world has almost always been the ‘follower’ or recipient of  the West in almost all matters until now, this new age of global activism is creating -in many ways- a new era and understanding  of politics.

So where does design  research come in? To most designers who specialize in social innovation, the answer is obvious and the possibilities are endless. First off, as designers we consider that the implications our actions may have on people should be preferably due to participatory and bottom-up design strategies. This means that we encourage the input of the people involved in the problem being tackled, by learning from them, working with them, and designing for them the right tools that they can use to create change in their communities. It is in fact the smaller circles of change and the meme effect they have on surrounding communities that lead to change in the whole system itself. In other words, designers can perhaps help the Arab communities redefine their systems by being the link between politics and the people. By going into each home and understanding the real underlying issues they face and gathering qualitative data, culture specific and innovative solutions can be formed and implemented.

Design does not promise grandeur illusions of instant solutions that fix all social and political problems simultaneously, but it offers people the empowerment to start making small changes in their communities  and understanding the design thinking process to problem solving. Most importantly, as this understanding of design and designers is a fairly new concept, it brings with it the motivation of a new idea and the enthusiasm of young designers who believe that on some microscopic level, they are saving the world.

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DESIGN RESEARCH, MENA PROJECTS, RESEARCH METHOD, SOCIAL INNOVATION

KonfiKits: Results & Insights

Summer has almost come to an end, and the kids are getting ready to go back to school. We spent those 3 months getting to know kids from all over Lebanon and exploring their secret worlds, which they gladly shared with us. They gave us so much insight through their interactions with the KonfiKits, and introduced us to concepts we were hardly aware of with regards to their interests, worries, likes, dislikes, and lifestyle habits. Some answers surprised us, some made us laugh, others were very touching; in all cases sharing experiences with these tweens reminded us of what it feels like to be 10, 12, or 13. It became clear that due to technological advancements and over-exposure to media, many things had changed. These issues opened up new questions and topics to be further tackled.

Currently we are filing all the data we have received and we will be writing an official report to hand to Toufoula regarding our findings and suggestions to move forward with a design solution for better health awareness for Lebanese Children.

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DESIGN RESEARCH, MENA PROJECTS, RESEARCH METHOD

Introducing: The Konfikit

After months of preparation, the Konfikits, which are the first cultural probe kits designed by us as a form of research with kids in Lebanon, are finally ready to be distributed. We at the MENA Design Research Center are now the KonfiAgents, that will visit children between the ages of 10 and 13, explain to them how to use this kit and then come back in a week to recollect them. The process, results and insights collected within this project over the course of the summer will be documented online. If you know children who would be interested to take part in this great project, that will be a very useful tool in understanding our culture’s youth, and that is also much fun, please feel free to contact us.

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DESIGN RESEARCH, MENA PROJECTS, SOCIAL INNOVATION

Piloting Questions with Kids First

Before distributing the cultural probe kits on the kids, it is best to test out the questions on a few children first to make sure that an average child of the same age understands the requirements. Often, researchers discover missing points or realize issues that only become apparent with the child’s input. Initially, we met with Professor Bahous who teaches education in the Lebanese American University in Beirut, to look over our questions and give us feedback, as she is extensively experienced with such projects and Lebanese children. We also met up with Nadine Touma of Dar Onboz, who recently finished filming a documentary with children and their families in Lebanese rural areas concentrating on their traditional eating habits.

We asked parents and friends to help us find children between the ages of 10 and 12 from different demographics across Lebanon, who would be willing to test the questions with us. Some of the questions (see above) are very personal and would give us insight about how the kids feel about the world surrounding them and themselves, the answers could help us find smarter ways to reach them and  better ways to integrate a healthy lifestyle into their everyday lives. We are currently piloting our probe kit questions before mass producing a significant quantity and issuing them to schools who have already approved the project. Thanks to Toufoula’s founded reputation and previous projects, the dispensation part of the project has been relatively easy for the MENA Design Research Center.

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