For design, both secondary and primary research and data collection methods are important as they inform our designs. We cannot design without thinking about existing data or what we could turn into data that aids our design process.
With interviews, they are a direct look into the mind of consumers and users. Because they are so personal and direct they allow for correction of misunderstandings and in depth analysis. They can be flexible as different avenues can be explored for each interview but because of these reasons they are time consuming and costly (The Business Communication, 2014). In any design problem including looking at organic waste, interviews can be a method that is used as personal insights from this data method may lead to new approaches to design for example a person’s experiences may be a universal experience that the interviewer did not realise before or after interviewing multiple people similar answers can reveal insights.
Similar to interviews, surveys can provide the direct opinions of consumers and users. While they may not be as in depth as interviews but they can find data for a large sample size much more effectively. Surveys can be cost effective and versatile however they also have weaknesses such as their inflexibility to be customised to every user or respondent (Blackstone, 2016). However, in my opinion their ability to collect data from a large sample size and the simplicity of their data makes them valuable.
The EPA (Environmental Protection Authority) conducts regular surveys regarding waste including organic waste such as their 2013 NSW Local Government Waste and Resource Recovery Data Report. Existing surveys about organic waste can be used in our investigations as having information that is readily available will allow for more time to be spent on the design side of things.
User testing is vital in the design process and the results from user testing can be turned into data that will help improve designs. If you launch a design or initiative without user testing the results can often be unexpected and unsuccessful.
IMAGE: The Beacon Project compost guidelines for residents (Zero to Go, 2016)
An example of a design initiative that used user testing in its process is the Beacon Compost Project. This Kickstarter project aimed to help business owners, apartment dwellers and renters who want to compost by collecting their compost while educating the public about composting. The compost is kept local as a valuable resource for the local community. The Beacon Project launched a user test stage (the pilot) during their campaign.
Phase One (the pilot):
Zero to Go staff will collect food waste from homes and businesses with electric-assist cargo bicycles that can handle up to 1,000 lbs.
Staff will pedal the loads to our staging area near Main Street and place what’s been collected into large totes.
Every week, Empire Zero, our partner carting company, will pick up Beacon’s collected material and drop if off at farms and industrial compost facilities in the area.
From this user testing they were able to gain a user base, test out routes and work out the best days for pick up, means of transportation etc. The project ended up being successful and they are currently active in Beacon all year round for anyone who wishes to participate.
Blackstone, A., 2016. Principles of Sociological Enquiry: Qualitative and Quantitative Methods. Viewed 13 June 2016, < http://catalog.flatworldknowledge.com/bookhub/reader/3585?e=blackstone_1.0-ch08_s02 >
Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), 2013, Local Government Waste and Resource Recovery Data Report. Viewed 13 June 2016, < http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/resources/warrlocal/140432-lg-data-1213.pdf >
The Business Communication, 2014, Advantage and Disadvantage of Interview. Viewed 13 June 2016, < http://thebusinesscommunication.com/advantage-and-disadvantage-of-interview/ >
Zero to Go, 2016, Beacon Compost Project, Beacon. Viewed 11 June 2016, < http://www.beaconcompost.com/our-story/ >
Zero to Go, 2015, Beacon Compost Project by Zero to Go – Kickstarter. Viewed 11 June 2016, < https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1053064049/beacon-compost-project/description >