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Generating evidence

I'm just thinking aloud here...

I've written about evidence-based design from time to time, how we use research to shape our design decisions, but I'm just wondering about the other side of the coin - how do we generate evidence?

How do we objectively show what difference our design makes? How do we quantify the improvements in health / reduction in accidents / cost savings or whatever that result from the work that we do? How do we justify our existence?

If we were working in the commercial world it would (all other things being equal) be easy to say "because of this campaign we have increased sales of our soap powder by 10%" or "by redesigning this electricity bill we have reduced the load on our call centres by 20%" and thus justify our fees. This is not something we've ever really tackled, we just seem to churn stuff out without any clear assessment of how effective it is.

We all know (or think we know) that good design can improve the effectiveness of services. If we're going to argue for a higher profile for design though, surely we need to be able to show clear evidence that the costs of design are outstripped by the benefits gained.

What do you think?

Posted by Brian 13.11.03 [ page link ]


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