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  Design Research and Information Design

I spent several years as Senior Information Designer for Cheskin Added Value, an innovation consulting and research firm.

The core responsibility of Cheskin designers was to apply visualization techniques to help bring the data collected from research to life. This ran the gamut from information graphics that clarified complex concepts, to segment personas in print and video, to DVD video presentations of research reports. I also helped to create concept illustrations, developed design principles, created stimulus for research and other myriad tasks.

Much of my work at Cheskin was with high-profile fortune 500 clients and is protected by NDA. Examples in this section are fictional, meant to indicate the type of work I participated in.

  Information visualization: Segment model comparison

Cheskin designers worked closely with researchers throughout the research and report process, often contributing to the report content. As the researchers identified concepts that they believed could benefit from a visual expression, we’d enter a collaborative process of helping to express these concepts as clearly as possible. These were generally expressed in PowerPoint as information graphics.

The example in this image is a fictional comparison of two segments, but representative of the type of work I did.

  Information visualization: Segment scenario

The purpose of the information graphics was to express complex relationships in a simple visual manner. In this case we indicate the daily computer usage of a client's music file consumer segment.

The example in this image is a fictional segment scenario, but representative of the type of work I did.

  Information visualization: Modeling examples

The models we developed were always custom to the project. Different client employees have different learning styles, so expressing concepts visually enhances the likelihood they'll be understood and the information will be put into practice.

The examples in this image are fictional, but representative of the type of work I did.

  Information visualization: Process maps

Many client questions involved products with complex usage processes that required very careful evaluation. We observed consumers engaged in tasks which we then broke down into detailed maps of all the micro-tasks and potential process variations involved.

By breaking the process down we were able to analyze it and look for areas of opportunity or gaps that could be addressed with enhancements to existing products or new offerings.

The examples in this image are fictional, but representative of the type of work I did.

  Information visualization: Web consulting

Due to my background as a web designer I participated in many web-related client projects at Cheskin. May of these involved informal user-testing. We combined insight based on interviews with user-observation to develop design principles for improving existing user experiences.

I would often illustrate these with sample recommendations of how a web site could be improved based on our findings.

The examples in this image are fictional, but representative of the type of work I did.

  Persona Posters and Segment data cards

Many Cheskin research projects were built around the goal of bringing an important consumer segment to life so employees could better understand them and develop products and services suited to their needs. We often produced personas in print or video format.

Personas are fictional, archetypal, representatives of a group of users distilled from research data. We interviewed members of a segment, determined what their shared qualitative characteristics were and developed a fictional consumer, representative of those characteristics. These were often expressed in poster or card format.

Segment cards were data-driven, quantitative expressions of research data.

The examples in this image are fictional, but representative of the type of work I did.

  Digital video segment stories

Video is a great storytelling device. Clients often need a compelling means of propogating a new segmentation across an organization. I helped develop many "digital stories" to bring segments to life.

These were short, fictional narrative pieces that expressed a pertinent consumer experience from the point of view of a particular segment. We used images collected in field, narration, music and simple transitions to convey these stories.

The examples in this image are fictional, but representative of the type of work I did.

  Segmentation web sites

In order for an organization to capitalize on the costly research involved in developing a segmentation it is essential to propogate the learnings and strategy developed from research across a company.

Segmentation websites are brochure-style, simple websites designed to provide the user with a rich-media experience of individual segments. I helped develop sites that provided an overview of the segmentation and strategy, an overview of individual segments and then a deep experience of representative consumers. These were enriched with a wealth of photography and video gathered in field.

The example on this image is fictional, but representative of the type of work I did.
I personally designed and built these sites, including all production but written content.

  Market Research web sites

Many Cheskin clients had invested a great deal of financial resources in market research. These reports were often delivered in lengthy PowerPoint and PDF files. Few companies have any efficient process for delivering these documents and their associated learnings and strategy across an organization.

I developed the Market Research Site offering as a solution to this problem. These were information-rich sites that made it easy to find and identify important insight and share information across the company. They began with an overview of a segment or topic and allowed the user to drill down to report abstracts and even the original data itself.

The example on this image is fictional, but representative of the type of work I did. I served as designer, project manager and production artist on these projects, creating everything but the CMS and written content.



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© Craig Millman 2009