Blue or yellow?

Rea­ding time: 2 minu­tes

There is design rese­arch ‘of’, ‘for’ and ‘with’ design: what are the dif­fe­ren­ces, and when is which used?

Blue or yel­low? That’s the ques­tion here — but often the wrong ques­tion at the wrong time. A typi­cal request to us is often: “We are deve­lo­ping a new pack­a­ging design for our pro­duct. The design is alre­ady available, in two dif­fe­rent colors, blue and yel­low. We would like to know which vari­ant works better.”

Of course, this can be tes­ted or the effect of the two vari­ants can be exami­ned more clo­sely psy­cho­lo­gi­cally, and con­su­mers will cer­tainly like one bet­ter than the other. If I only have two pro­grams to choose from when wat­ching TV, I would cer­tainly pre­fer one of them — but an offer like Net­flix would actually meet my needs much bet­ter. Or any­thing else. Ins­tead of the yel­low and blue pack­a­ging, there would be thou­sands of other opti­ons, one of which might be much more appe­al­ing to the tar­get group.

It the­r­e­fore makes more sense and is more effec­tive to know, even before the first draft is deve­lo­ped, which image worlds, i.e. memo­ries, desi­ra­ble images, sym­bols, colors, forms, styles, etc., a design has to “dock” with so that it hits people’s life worlds. This inci­den­tally also ensu­res a signi­fi­cantly bet­ter crea­tion, because such know­ledge also crea­tes a bet­ter basis for inspi­ra­tion. Who would have thought, for exam­ple, that you have to come to seni­ors with sex appeal and slithery dou­ble mea­nings if you want to sell hea­ring aids, for exam­ple? That crea­tes room for a lot of cool ideas, and dif­fe­rent ones than you might have pre­viously suspected.

Not all design rese­arch is the same; it exists by, for, and with design. “Of” design means test­ing a design, such as an ad. Blue or yel­low? “For” design means that the rese­arch pro­vi­des the basis for crea­ting a design that meets the needs of con­su­mers*. If rese­arch is con­duc­ted “with” design, then design pro­ce­du­res are used in addi­tion to psy­cho­lo­gi­cal explo­ra­tion. Such “prac­tice-inte­gra­ting” methods look at the object through the eyes of the desi­gner: What does he or she need to deve­lop designs?

Those who know us a little know that we stand for design rese­arch “for” and “with” design and are pas­sio­nate about this sequence, which is unfa­mi­liar to many. Of course, design rese­arch “for” design requi­res dif­fe­rent rese­arch than design rese­arch “of” design. Query­ing won’t help. After all, there is still not­hing that can be queried. The focus is rather on the life worlds of the tar­get group, on their expe­ri­en­ces and their images of memory and ima­gi­na­tion, their lon­gings, hopes, fears, wis­hes, needs. At the same time, such “prac­tice-inte­gra­ting” methods are nee­ded not only to find out what needs peo­ple have, but also what form and color these needs take.

And now — atten­tion adver­ti­sing: With the Design Guide we have a method that can explore these basics with mana­geable effort. Some­ti­mes two or four small groups are enough to steer the crea­tion deve­lo­p­ment in the right direc­tion. It pays off in the end. Yel­low or blue? That’s no lon­ger the question.

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