Design research or user research is research undertaken specifically to support the development of products, services, and systems that meet human needs. The primary goal of design research is to generate value for the end user, that is, to meet a specific need.
The design research process involves gathering, distilling, and applying information from user interactions, including user interviews, field surveys, and tests. Methods of data collection and the types of data collected differ from those used in market or academic research. Rather than collecting theoretical data, design research relies on gathering and synthesizing human insights and experiences, with the goal of using these insights and experiences to meet identified needs.
Increasingly, the design world is focusing on evidence-based design to research user needs and behaviors in the built environment, particularly their interaction with architectural spaces. In environmental and experiential graphic design, this research often takes the form of prototyping conceptual systems or communications (such as signage) to determine their effectiveness in helping people navigate spaces. Specific to signage and related visual communications in the built environment, design research has been focused on legibility, nomenclature, mapping, use of symbols, use of multiple languages, sign location, and other factors affecting the effectiveness of wayfinding and directional information systems.
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