Methods of Design Synthesis: Research to Product Innovation

Theory and methods for synthesizing design thinking research data to identify innovations and new product features.

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  • Lectures 12
  • Video 1.5 Hours
  • Skill Level Intermediate Level
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
    30 day money back guarantee!
    Available on iOS and Android
    Certificate of Completion

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Course Description

User-centered design research activities produce an enormous quantity of raw data, which must be systematically and rigorously analyzed in order to extract meaning and insight.

Unfortunately, these methods of analysis are poorly documented and rarely taught, and because of the pragmatic time constraints associated with working with clients, there is often no time dedicated in a statement of work to a practice of formal synthesis. As a result, raw design research data is inappropriately positioned as insight, and the value of user-centered research activities is marginalized – in fact, stakeholders may lose faith in the entire research practice, as they don’t see direct return on the investment of research activities.

Design synthesis methods can be taught, and when selectively applied, visual, diagrammatic synthesis techniques can be completed relatively quickly. During Synthesis, Designers visually explore large quantities of data in an effort to find and understand hidden relationships. These visualizations can then be used to communicate to other members of a design team, or can be used as platforms for the creation of generative sketching or model making. The action of diagramming is a way to actively produce knowledge and meaning.

What are the requirements?

  • A working understanding of design process

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Over 12 lectures and 1.5 hours of content!
  • Learn about how to manage the complexity of gathered data
  • Build both confidence and ability with the various synthesis methods
  • Learn to make sense of data and translate research into insights
  • Learn to create a concept map
  • Learn to create a process flow diagram
  • Learn to perform insight combination
  • Learn to reframe

What is the target audience?

  • Design researchers
  • Designers
  • Marketers
  • Product managers
  • Developers

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Theory of Design Synthesis
Design as Problem Solving: Well-Structured, Ill-Structured, and Wicked Problems
The Process of Design
Deductive, Inductive, and Abductive Reasoning
Making Meaning Out of Data
Experience Frameworking
Gaining Empathy
Section 2: Methods of Design Synthesis
Process Flow Diagramming
Concept Mapping
Insight Combination
Section 3: In Summary
Applying Synthesis in Real Life

Instructor Biography

Jon Kolko, Founder, Austin Center for Design; VP of Design, MyEdu

Jon Kolko is Vice President of Design at MyEdu, and the Founder and Director of Austin Center for Design. His work focuses on bringing the power of design to social enterprises, with an emphasis on entrepreneurship and large-scale industry disruption. He has worked extensively with both startups and Fortune 500 clients, with a focus on humanizing educational technology.

Jon has previously held positions of Executive Director of Design Strategy at Thinktiv, a venture accelerator in Austin, Texas, and both Principal Designer and Associate Creative Director roles at frog design, a global innovation firm. He was also a Professor of Interaction and Industrial Design at the Savannah College of Art and Design, where he was instrumental in building both the Interaction and Industrial Design undergraduate and graduate programs. Jon has also held the role of Director for the Interaction Design Association (IxDA), and Editor-in-Chief of interactions magazine, published by the ACM.

Jon is the author three books: Thoughts on Interaction Design, published by Morgan Kaufmann, Exposing the Magic of Design: A Practitioner's Guide to the Methods and Theory of Synthesis, published by Oxford University Press, and Wicked Problems: Problems Worth Solving, published by Austin Center for Design.

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Average Rating
  1. 5 Stars
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  5. 1 Star
    • Umar Ansari

    Amazingly taught - A MUST for all designers

    John Kolko does an incredibly job conveying several methods of design synthesis in a comprehensive way using great real-world examples. This is a must buy course for any designer - especially those looking for a career in Industrial Design, Foresight and Innovation. Thanks John!

    • Eric Knudtson

    Great quick course on Design Synthesis!

    Thanks Jon!

    • John Barclay-Morton

    Very Insightful, and Useful

    Thus is a really good course, for quite a number of reasons. The instructor is very clear in his descriptions, and has a very clear idea of what he is trying to teach. He approaches the material in a very systematic manner, and provides background depth along with very simple instructions and direct examples.

    I went through this course twice; once to familiarize myself with the material, and then once to take notes for future use. As with any well thought out course of study, the material has a significant degree of density which allows it to be unpacked into something that extends well beyond the length of time the course actually runs. At the same time, the presentation of the material is not at all opaque; on the contrary, link good typography or graphic design, the presentation of the material is completely transparent and allows the ideas being presented to stand out clearly and distinctly.

    I signed up for this course because of my interest in graphic design; but I noticed that the material would be very useful to someone who was designing digital projects and user experience interfaces. I'm also involved with a commercial needs assessment project in an underdeveloped neighborhood, and I can see direct applications there for the various methods and techniques taught in this course.

    Finally, my academic background is in philosophy; and the material in this course is consistent and coherent enough for me to tweak it with insights from my own background in working with conceptual structures. I come from a post-structural background in European (current Continental) philosophy, so I can see some interesting possibilities here; but the fact that I can see how I would go about doing this with the material presented here clearly speaks to me of the quality of instruction and the integrity of the material contained in this course.

    • Víctor Campuzano

    Muy bueno

    Presenta conceptos y métodos muy interesantes acerca de los procesos de síntesis en el diseño, para el área que yo trabajo que son justamente las técnicas de conceptualización me ha dado muy buenos aportes.

    • Dhanesh tk

    Good insights on user research

    Gives you a different perspective on analysing research data. Good resources for beginners. Nice to have - Case studies included along with course

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