Getting to Know People

Methods & techniques to help gain insight

We develop methods and tools to help us better engage with people, often in their home environments. Considerations such as language barriers or a personal topic that requires sensitivity and empathy calls for a bespoke way to learn and investigate. Here are a few examples methods we have recently created and explored.

Language can be the obvious hurdle, but even talking about everyday routines can be tough, they’re so integral to life we can forget about the little things, and where do we even start when trying to articulate our emotions? How can we possibly put what we feel into spoken word?

More silent barriers come in the form of religion, traditions and beliefs. Sometimes it’s as simple as taking off your shoes before you enter someone’s home, other times it’s about treading carefully when talking about sensitive subjects. We need to be conscious that what may be acceptable to discuss in one culture, may be taboo in another.

Add the complexity of information getting lost in translation and before you know it our capacity to learn can become stifled. We’ve developed methodologies to allow us to cross the language barrier on multiple levels whilst creating an environment that encourages fresh thinking. In part this comes through immersing ourselves in a new world, whether it’s in the lives of new parents, a new culture like China or into the hands of surgeons saving lives.

Orange outline of a smartphone
Digital Diary

It’s nice to imagine that we can remember all the finer details and mental processes involved in our day to day routines, but the truth is we simply don’t. These thoughts are happening subconsciously at a system one level and sometimes need to be captured to be explained.

When appropriate, diary studies give us access to peoples’ daily lives, in their own words and behaviours, without the presence of onlooking researchers. The depth of information to explore post study gives us the best chance of truly understanding the thoughts that drive these everyday decisions.

As technology becomes synonymous with every aspect of living, our ways of working have mirrored this. We can drive engagement and immediately step into consumers’ worlds using video to capture lives through the eyes of those who live them, as they live them. This gives a true sense of honesty in the data we capture and let’s be frank, who doesn’t carry their phone around with them all the time?

We recently ran a study looking at consumer behaviour and attitudes related to monitoring food product freshness. We asked people to document their interactions with a few specific products over the course of two weeks in a diary study before meeting them in small, like-minded groups. In this case, we asked them to download an app and simply snap, comment and film away.

It seemed people had a lot to say about their daily routines when given the time, opportunity and a little guidance to uncover their everyday. This formed a solid foundation for conversation at the focus groups and led to rich new insights we could feed into design.

Orange sliding scale illustration
Sliding Scale

Let’s take the issue of language itself – how can we overcome a barrier so concrete? Learning a language for a project clearly isn’t a viable option but we can use local teams and simultaneous translators to lessen the effect of those barriers.

It may seem obvious to say ‘keep things simple’ but in these cases it really is necessary. Just think about noughts and crosses and how simply it can be enjoyed without language or words. We try to take the user on a journey through the relevant task or experience using visuals that easily register and stimulus that hints at new discoveries. For example, a board game can act as the centre piece to our discussions, ensuring all parties are actively involved and engaged in conversations. The board game can also give people a sense of ownership over their role in a setting that can sometimes feel more like an interrogation.

A large organe rectangle and 6 orange squares to the right in a block
Image Sort

Getting people to recount their emotions on the spot to a small team they met earlier can be tough.

A projective image sort allows a feeling to speak for itself and reduces the difficulty often found in articulation. This technique involves assigning various feelings to a range of images. Respondents can then choose the image they feel most connected with which immediately gives us an understanding of their frame of mind, uncovering hidden dimensions regarding cultural emotions and feelings.

To Summarise

So what does all this mean for the future? New methodologies allow us to engage in real-time conversations with respondents all over the globe, whenever and wherever they are. With more people documenting their lives on social media and constant technological developments, new types of global projects are opening their doors. With new tech like live translation on Googles’ Pixel Buds our approach to gathering insights could look completely different in the next 10 years. There’d be no need for translators, making it more accessible to get people on the ground, in the heart of the action.

Methods and techniques enable us to engage in meaningful discovery with people worldwide. Creative consideration as to how we seek to learn and apply findings into design directions is what sets us apart at KD. Insight-led design and innovation ensures a continual thread will take you from an observation into an insight and evolve and manifest into new ideas and value propositions.

Find out more?

Contact our Head of Insight & Innovation, Kelly Dawson.