Assessing the Benefits of Early Stage Design Research

ICORD 11: Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Research into Design Engineering, Bangalore, India, 10.-12.01.2011

Year: 2011
Editor: Chakrabarti, A.
Author: Thandapani,Selvan; Woodbridge,Richard
Section: Eco-Design, Sustainable Manufacturing, Design for Sustainbility
Page(s): 497-505


The benefits of user-centered design in design and testing for Base-of Pyramid (BoP) related products have been generally established. However, conducting extensive field tests in rural villages can be daunting. Besides the expense of conducting multiple field visits in remote locations, the process of transforming those design insights into amanufactured design change can take weeks, if not longer. These barriers can lead some firms to forego obtaining valuable user feedback during the initial design research process. Two case studies, based in Chennai, India, investigate the benefits of conducting ruralBoP product tests in an urban environment. Findings suggest that design insights gained from the urban families are as informative as similar tests conducted in rural settings. This report also offers insights on selecting users, field-testing new BoP products, effective user-centered design frameworks, rapid prototype fabrication, as well as limitations to this approach.

Keywords: Base-of Pyramid (BoP), User-centered design (UCD), Urbanization, Prototyping, Urban testing, Design research, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.


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