Expanding user need finding through abductive reasoning

DS 122: Proceedings of the Design Society: 24th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED23)

Year: 2023
Editor: Kevin Otto, Boris Eisenbart, Claudia Eckert, Benoit Eynard, Dieter Krause, Josef Oehmen, Nad
Author: Bruggeman, Ryan; Ciliotta Chehade, Estefania; Ciuccarelli, Paolo
Series: ICED
Institution: Northeastern University
Section: Design Methods
Page(s): 1745-1754
DOI number: https://doi.org/10.1017/pds.2023.175


Prior research has shown the importance of latent user needs for enabling innovation in early product development phases. The success of a product is largely dependent on to what extent the product satisfies customer needs, and latent user needs play a significant role in impacting the way the product or service unexpectedly delights the user. Complications arise because traditional need finding methods are not able to account for the nuances of latent user needs. A user's need is multidimensional while traditional methods are built on deductive reasoning. The traditional method isolates parts of the user's needs, only pointing to what is deducible within its search space. To address this, we introduce abduction as a way to broaden traditional need finding methods. From a logic based argument it is shown that abduction accounts for the dimensionality of user needs by integrating various traditional need finding theories using design knowledge to isolate the latent need. This theoretical development shows that latent need finding must go beyond a deductive focus, to developing methods that are able to conjecture with the deduced facts in order to abduce the latent user need.

Keywords: Abduction, Latent user needs, Design theory, User centred design, Process modelling

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