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Design Research

Making a Research Plan

You'll need to do text and image research at the same time, because background research helps you know what images to look for.  Try making a mind map to plot your topic, the subtopics, the different perspectives/stakeholders, the existing problems that your designs could solve.  Then, consider where information about each branch of your mind map would live.  Once you know where that information typically lives, you can get started with research.

For example:

A mind map about sneaker design might include a branch about existing sneaker companies.  Where does that information live? On company websites (Nike, Adidas, etc.), or in industry reports (search the web for _______ industry report, for example sneaker industry report).  You might also have a branch about public opinion, so you could search social media sites for people's opinions about certain sneaker designs. You might have a branch of your mind map about sneaker history so you can come grab a sneaker book from the library.

 Check out this book chapter for more mind mapping tips for designers. 

Use the mind map tool below to get started! Search a broad subject (don't get too specific at first):

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Questions to Consider

You don't have the luxury of doing all your research with one type of source, like how other majors/disciplines just use scholarly materials. As a designer you need to brainstorm all the types of information you might need and where that information typically lives. For example:

  • Are there related videos? Try searching Google and limiting your search to Videos (instead of limiting yourself to just Youtube)
  • Are there any documentaries that have been made on the topic? How would you know? Try searching for your topic and documentary to see if anything comes up
  • Are there any podcasts or interviews you can listen to? Add the terms podcast or  interview to your Google search
  • If you click on an image from Google Image Search results and visit the website where it's from, will you find more related images?
  • Are there maps you should try to find?
  • Is there historical information held in an archive you could view?
  • Are there symbols or icons you should research?
  • Should you do a Google News search?
  • Are there books on the topic that contain images? Search the library and Google books