Design research caters an understanding of what product qualities will meet the perceptive, physical, emotional and behavioral needs of a target market. It informs and inspires design in ways that enhance brand loyalty, user satisfaction and overall product success. In the commercial context, design research carries real tangible value in a sense that it ensures better design results, it helps control resources and the content they produce, their timing and budget.
There are three types of design research within the "diverging-converging" design process: contextual, generative, and evaluative. All three have their place and importance and they do differ.
Contextual: lies in the diverging spectrum of the process and delivers insights to: 1. The business context (corporate and business strategies, partnerships, technology, product road maps, and potential impact); 2. External market environments (social/ behavioral/ cultural context and trends, competitive trends, design trends, technology, and regulatory trends); 3. Customer definition (segmentation, demographics, attitudes, aspirations, etc.).
Generative: lies in-between the diverging and converging spectrum and it delivers insights to: 1. Discovering new opportunities; 2. Discovering unmet needs; 3. Stimulating creativity.
Evaluative: lies in the converging spectrum of the process and delivers insights to: 1. Evaluating effectiveness; 2. Optimizing design; 3. Assessing business impact.
Within the different types of research, there are several methods for obtaining important information. These include: secondary, quantitative, qualitative, ethnographic, experiential, and participatory.
The ultimate motivation to conduct design research is for it to lead to solutions. However, the primary outcome of the research process is data, which if regarded on its own is not very relevant for design professionals. The data needs to be translated into insights through applying knowledge and analyzing the available information.