Tools

This page represents a growing list of application toolkits and other great resources for conducting design research, organized into General, Specific, and Thematic Tools.

General Tools

General tools provide guidance on an over all approach to user research, or an organized framework of many methods to inform your choice.

Beginner’s Guide To Design Research
By UX Booth. “In this Complete Beginner’s Guide, we’ll look at the many elements of design research, from interviews and observations, to usability testing and A/B testing. Readers will get a head start on how to use these design research techniques in their work, and improve experiences for all users.”

theDesignExchange
A joint project led by UC Berkeley and M.I.T. working with the international community of design academics and practitioners. “TheDesignExchange provides a central repository of early design stage methods, engaging all stakeholders in the design community of practice, and integrating online learning with real case studies to demonstrate the methods.”

Design Kit
IDEO.org. “Think of these Methods as a step-by-step guide to unleashing your creativity, putting the people you serve at the center of your design process to come up with new answers to difficult problems.”

Design Research Techniques
“A simple visual guide to a range of techniques which you may want to further research, when they may be used and a little bit about them. They also have some great case studies with specific techniques for Discovery available here.”

Designing With People
By the i-design project. “20 research methods that help designers engage with people during the design process. Some methods are widely used; others represent emerging practice. To help you find the right methods for your project, each method is explored and assessed here from a number of different angles.”

d.school Mixtapes
Three “mixtapes” of methods to jumpstart your work: Understand – Experiment – Ideate.

Gamestorming
“A toolkit of co-creation tools for innovators, rule-breakers and changemakers.”

IBM Design Research Resources Toolkit
“New methods and models created by IBMers, for IBMers.”

IDEO Method Cards
IDEO Method Cards are a tool to showcase methods we use to inspire great design and keep people at the center of our design process. Each of the 51 cards describes one method and includes a brief story about how and when to use it.”
(Also available as a smartphone app)

LifeHack
“Top 10 Design Research Resources”

Research Toolbox Chart | Booklet
By Daedalus + Thoughtform. “Twenty-three research methods to discover what your users really want.” Presented in a convenient chart with short definitions of methods, or a compelling illustrated booklet.

Usability.gov
“Usability.gov is the leading resource for user experience (UX) best practices and guidelines, serving practitioners and students in the government and private sectors.”

Usability Body of Knowledge – Methods
“This section of the Usability BoK presents descriptions of methods, including procedures, resources needed, outcomes, appropriate uses, benefits, and costs. These descriptions form the core of a knowledge base that defines our field. They also help communicate usability methods to clients, project managers, and team members. Usability practitioners will also benefit from cross-referencing of related methods and pointers to outside resources for more details.”

UX Research & Strategy
By DesignLab.”Want to make products people love? Start with a deep understanding of your customers. Learn the who, what, why, when and where of customer research to help you create amazing user experiences.”

UX Research Cheat Sheet
Nielsen Norman Group. “User research can be done at any point in the design cycle. This list of methods and activities can help you decide which to use when.”

Specific Methods Tools

Specific tools correspond to methods for particular applications, for example, diary studies, cultural probes, card sorting or user testing.

Dscout
For mobile diary studies. “dscout’s remote research platform uses a mobile app and +100K eager participants to efficiently capture in-the-moment video and make insights easy to synthesize and share.”

EthOS Ethnographic Observation System
“Today we are the go-to platform for anyone wishing to carry out remote qualitative, quantitative and ethnographic research projects anywhere in the world.”

Lego Serious Play
Although marketed toward business performance, Lego can be successfully used as a participatory co-design make-tool for inspired creativity.

Optimal Workshop
A user research platform with a suite of online usability tools, including “Optimal Sort” card-sorting software.

Probetools
Interaction Research Studio. “Our goal is to build on contemporary making and hacking trends to update Probes and make them widely accessible to researchers of any background.”

PremoTool
By SusaGroup. “A unique, scientifically validated tool to instantly get insight in consumer emotions! People can report their emotions with the use of expressive cartoon animations instead of relying on the use of words.”

UsabilityHub
A set of five online usability tools, geared toward fast testing. “Remote user testing to help you make confident design decisions”

Thematic Tools

Thematic tools are designed for research in broad topic areas, such as emotion, behavior change, healthcare, or service design.

Design and Emotion
“Since 2005, the Design & Emotion Society has been collecting tools and methods that support the application of design for emotion.”

Design with Intent
By Dan Lockton, PhD. “Aims to give practitioners a more nuanced approach to design and behaviour, working with people, people’s understanding, and the complexities of everyday human experience. It’s a collection of design patterns—and a design and research approach—for exploring the interactions between design and people’s behaviour, across products, services and environments, both digital and physical.”

MethodKit for Public Health
“A healthy population is the backbone of a sustainable society. We have created a tool that can help you organize, plan and shape the future landscape of patient care, health and wellbeing. This kit is aimed at both professionals and enthusiasts who want to understand more and create new systems for the future of public health.”

Service Design Tools
“An open collection of communication tools used in design processes that deal with complex systems.”