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Research Plan

Research Objective
Identify major struggles of stakeholders in current design critique experience

Research Questions
1. what caused students to think that design critique is not helpful?
2. which stages of critique do stakeholders struggle the most?
3. what are issues with sharing feedback?

Research Methods
1. Literature Review
2. Stakeholder Interview
3. Thematic Analysis
4. Competitive Analysis

Literature Review

Taking the inital step of the research. From the literature review, I extracted key themes that form the topics for interview guide.

[Finding 1]
Students wish to have more time to share feedback during critique (Aitchison, 2016).
[Finding 2]
Design critique is lacking in teaching cross-functional design industry (Menold et al, 2018; Huang, 2015).

[Finding 3]
61% of US college students are afraid of public speaking (Grieve et al., 2021).
[Theme 1]
Experience sharing feedback

[Theme 2]
Cross-functionality of design industry revealed in critique

[Theme 3]
Speaking during critique

User Interview

Based on the data gained from literature review, I clarify the target user group, sample the participants and created interview guidelines for each user group. Major target user was students and the secondary target user group was educators. Then these target users were recruited based on the sampling guides. 

Stakeholder and Recruitment


Conducting Interview

The interview was semi-structured. Due to the pandemic, the original plan for the face-to-face interview was replaced to online (MS Teams). Interview guidelines were separately formed for each stakeholder group and each guideline has three main themes referring to the lit. review.


1. Voice of non-designers is needed

Current academic critique environment focuses too much on design expertise which hinders students to encounter non-designers. This makes recent graduates specifically struggle to work with people in non-design fields when they enter real-world. However, there are no space for students to discuss about invited guest critics before or after critique.

2. “Next Step” after reviews is needed

The current structure of final reviews demotivates students as there is no next step or external discussion. This weakens the impact of professional insights in students’ development.

3. Better feedback management is needed

Participants argue that more constructive methods are required to have a better communication in critique environment. Specifically, methods to capture feedback and improve students interaction with professionals are needed.

Competitive Analysis

As there is no direct competitor in the market, I was looking at existing products that share similar purpose, functionality or setting. To come up with insights to improve student experience in design critique, I was focusing on a specific task (sharing ideas/feedbacks in a class setting) in reviewing competitors.

User Persona

Data analyzed from design research in converted in user persona. Interview findings formed most part of the persona while competitive analysis and literature review back up the situational scenario for the persona. There are two personas for both primary user group (student) and secondary user group (educator) to have broad understanding of the problem space.  

User Journey (Before --> After)

Now, data collected from competitive analysis and literature review forms the overall flow of the journey map while interview data creates the emotional reaction of the user group. By showing the comparison of user journey before and after the solution is applied, we could better imagine where the design opportunities are locating in specific stages of user experience.

© Sejin Hwang