Funding user research for your bright idea – Design Foundations
13 May 2017
Need a way to fund working with designers on your bright idea? CCD is participating in Innovate UK’s Design Foundations Funding partnership programme. It brings new concepts and ideas together with early stage user research to create better solutions, services and products. Below, David explains the role that funding partners can play in supporting new ideas.
History is littered with examples of seemingly great ideas and technologies that fail because they didn’t address a real need or solve a real problem for their users. It is a fundamental problem for the innovator – how do I get insight into my potential customers and make sure that my idea serves a genuine purpose? Design Foundations funding might be the answer to your problem.
For start-ups, this is can be difficult, as engaging with designers and researchers is another cost which might seem unnecessary. It’s hard to see outside the thought process that owning the idea means you have an intrinsic understanding: the belief that because you came up with the idea, you understand why people need and want it. The value comes in the distance and new perspective that someone such as a designer can bring. It’s not just about being introspective, but about being impartial and having empathy with all potential users.
The funding challenges that face start-ups and innovative ideas can be significant, an issue being addressed by the Innovate UK Design Foundations scheme. The second round of funding is just beginning, with a third round coming later in the year. The Design Foundations programme is aimed specifically at companies with that great idea or technology who want that external help to do early design research into their customers, and make sure their idea solves a real need or problem.
The design process can be described in many ways but essentially boils down to the same core elements. The early parts are chaotic. Many seemingly unconnected behaviours and needs, each with a variety of directions to explore. The next steps, whatever you call them, are all about making sense of that chaos. Narrowing down the options to arrive at a proposition that both address the needs of the user, and demonstrate benefits to the customer. It’s about idea feasibility: you iterate, you refine, you pivot, and you end up with a product or service ready for market which has a much greater chance of success.
The early stage research that is being funded by Design Foundations is about putting aside the solution for a moment and going back to the fundamentals of the customer and their uncertain, unpredictable behaviours. The funding enables companies to collaborate with agencies like CCD to open their toolbox of design research methods and pull out the key insights into customers that can drive design development in the right direction. Having a guiding hand to continuously link back to the problem, rather than the solution, drives innovation in the way we develop feasible ideas.
Our philosophy at CCD is that understanding people and their behaviour is at the root of all successful designs. But doing that well requires the right tools and the right mindset. The key is in understanding that people are all different from each other and our research processes need.
To read more about Design Foundations and how it can help you, click here.