Methods of Design Synthesis: Research to Product Innovation

Theory and methods for synthesizing research data in order to identify innovations and new product features.
  • Lectures 12
  • Video 2 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

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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
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    • 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

    • Sjors Timmer

    Great practiical methods

    Jon both discusses the theoretical underpinnings of design synthesis and 4 methods to apply this in great detail.

    • Steve Baty

    Great introduction to design-led problem-solving

    The business and government worlds are increasingly interested in the ways in which design can be applied to large-scale, difficult-to-tackle problems. In this course Jon Kolko introduces the student to the theory and process of Design, and provides a foundation upon which anyone can begin to practice design-led problem-solving. Jon packs a great deal of design theory and the fundamentals of practice into this short course - it is a great way for you to get started in Design.

    • Eric Boggs

    Key Activities for Great Design

    A wonderful use of an hour. Thanks Jon for this direct and rich introduction to the process of synthesis. Before studying design, I focused mainly on innovative end products - but I realize you can't have those without a repeatable synthesis process. This lecture also gives you the "keys to the car" - the actual methods - that top designers use to fuel product ideas.

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