Rudolph Design Studio co-founder, Jim Rudolph, and his Notre Dame Design colleague, Ann-Marie Conrado, moderated an engaging Conversation at DRS2020, the annual international conference held by the Design Research Society. The Conversation, titled Tower of Babel: The conflicting semantics of user needs, discussed the disparate definitions, understandings, and uses of the term ‘user needs’ in academia and product development. 

Due to the virtual nature of all things 2020, we used the digital whiteboard software MIRO to create an engaging real-time affinity diagramming exercise to enable conversation participants to share their understandings and definitions of user needs. Participants created examples of what constitutes a user need and then worked collaboratively to group similar examples. We wrapped up with an informative conversation about how participants combined and differentiated examples based on their current understanding of the terminology.

Jim will be using the results of this conversation to conduct further research into this exciting and ever-evolving space within design research.