Using Superheros and Secret Weapons as Design Research Tools

Adaptive Path experience designer Leah Buley (@ugleah) on using superheros and secret weapons as design research tools –

On a recent research trip, an interviewee happened to use the term “weapons.” He was talking about some pretty typical consumer goods and their importance in a pretty typical area of his life. But he called them WEAPONS! As in, the tools that make him invincible. The interviewer jumped on the metaphor and asked, “ok then, what’s your SECRET weapon?” The interviewee’s answer was surprising and funny in that way that research anecdotes often are.

Secret weapons got me thinking about superheros, and how dynamic superheros are on the creative mind. Superheros can do things ordinary people can’t do. They have unique abilities that allow them to overcome the very problems that gall us mere mortals. They wear special costumes with brilliant hidden gadgets and gizmos.

I found myself wondering, can we use superheros and secret weapons as a research tool?

So I put together a very basic template, and experimented on a few friends. The idea is simple: the researcher just asks the interviewee to imagine secret weapons for a superhero who is tailor made for a specific purpose.

Let’s see how well this works: You are designing the superhero of ____cricket fandom______. This superhero has secret weapons that make it possible to overcome the things that frustrate _____cricket fans______ like you and me. What secret weapons would you give this superhero?

I build and nurture online communities as CEO of 2020 Social. Read my bio, interview me for a media story, invite me to speak at a conference or ask me how we can help you. E-mail me at [email protected], call me at +91-9999856940, or connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Slideshare.

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