Using the internets effectively for Industrial Design

This post is in response to a request from the head of the product design track at Kansas University’s Department of Design on behalf of his students.

Research

The internet has 90% of the available knowledge about any given thing out there for you to find. Google is your friend. Start with Flickr – experiment with keywords because folks make up their own tags and titles. Core77 is another good portal for information as is Dexigner.

The key thing to remember is that don’t just sit there expecting your teacher, your boss or your client to give you all the information you need to begin designing to a brief. That assumption can make or break the results of a project. Always make it a point, regardless of whether you feel you know everything about a project or not, to begin with a quick google search of the product or client’s company or whatever area you are looking at. You never know what information titbit will trigger a thought or spark an idea.

Blogs are another good method of conducting research. Here, for example is a blog on next generation mobile interface design. This blog has a great collection of links on the topics of design, technology, culture, music and more. How do you find blog posts rather than the general mixture of stuff that comes up in a regular google search? Once you find one blog you like, check out their blogroll of links to other blogs. You’ll usually find at least one or two whom you’ll enjoy too. Bookmark them. Use Bloglines to manage your RSS feeds.

Technorati is a good place to start – look at their popular section for tags such as design, product design, or whatever interests you. Also, Google has a Blogsearch feature or you can use the word "blog" in addition to any other keyword in a regular search. That’s the biggest problem with the proliferation of information available online – finding it 🙂 I like del.icio.us very much and prefer to start there than any other site like Digg or others simply because its the most global in its user base and the least technology oriented of all such sites.

Lastly, you can do image searches for other concepts and drawings that others have done. Coroflot has over 38000 portfolios available, start a search there to see how others are designing in other countries and schools. What can you pick up from that information?

And remember, research can be fun! 😛

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One Response to Using the internets effectively for Industrial Design

  1. Statements such as “The internet has 90% of the available knowledge about any given thing out there for you to find.” make me very nervous. Niti – you’ve got an excellent reference here for secondary research.
    But let’s not forget primary research! I want my students to be exposed to the wide range of content on the Internet (my favorite from last semester was the student who tapped into the zeitgeist by doing an Google image search on two different aspects of what they were exploring, and looked at the contrasting themes as that: THEMES, not data – representing cultural perceptions around those issues).
    But mostly I want them to get away from their computers and go have their own experiences doing primary research. Meeting people, talking to people, watching people, asking questions of people. Observing artifacts and systems and how they work and don’t work and how people use and abuse and misuse and reuse them.
    And that means hitting the streets and opening eyes and taking photos.

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