From time to time it can be a difficult sell getting clients across the line on laying good front-end foundations to a project, and letting us as designers do what we do best - getting to the coal-face in order to understand if the problem we are solving is the right one.
Last week we had the pleasure of getting out into the wild and interfacing with actual humans undertaking real activities in context! Whoa, slow down. You mean google image search didn't tell us everything we needed? And the client didn't have all the answers? Armed with a little bit of the former, and some of our own quick and dirty testing, we sat down and developed hypotheses relating to the core problems we were trying to address and then proceeded to head in to the field and throw a few open-ended questions at some real end users, in context, at time of use. What we got back was some of what we expected, and a fair dash of what we didn't.. you really don't know what you don't know. Building on these conversations, observing what people were doing, and analysing the present solutions on offer, we were able to define a space not currently occupied by any of the clients' competition; one that addressed the core underlying requirements of the end-user.
There is indeed a gap in the market - whether there is a market in the gap remains to be validated, however the use of a few robust design research tools have once again proven valuable in facilitating a path to innovation