Criterion A (.2)

Criterion A (.2)

Edison here again, Visitor.  Time for your first draft of the user & market research you've completed.

I’d first focus on establishing a crystal-clear empathy with the audience I was planning to serve, so I know what their problem is, how they feel about it and what they currently do to try and solve it. The best way to learn this in my experience is in person, over the phone or a distant third is via monitoring discussions in groups, blog comments, forums and social media.

If I don’t do this step well, I won’t have an audience or make any sales down the line, so it’s the vital first step...

from The complete guide to building your personal brand by Neil Patel and Aaron Aguis

Remember the rubric?  You can load it from the Mezzanine, or here for direct access.

The rubric is your map.  It's your Rosetta stone to the mysteries within the IA Project Folder.  If you didn't watch the video from Criterion A(.1) I'd recommend you go back and do that.  For now, review what's on the list in the Rubric for Market & User Research.  There are two parts I would recommend you pay attention to:

  1. Look through the checklist for suggestions of what you might include in order to build a thorough A.2 section.  Keep an eye on that page recommendation at the bottom, too.  If you're significantly different (more than 25% either way), you might need to start asking why.  But it's better to be long than short, at this stage.  It's easier to cut later than go back and fill in if you're short.
  2. Below the checklist are the colored bars with the actual rubric IA Examiners will use, including Number One.  Use this to evaluate your own work.  Or even more powerful, trade with another student and evaluate each other's work.  This will help both of you more than evaluating your own.  Don't settle for someone telling you how nice a job you did; insist that they really apply the rubric and checklist to help you see how you could improve your work (there's always room for improvement).

Got that, Visitor?  The rubric is basically a complete resource guide to how to write a top-mark IA.  But you could probably use examples of how it's put together in real life.  That's next.

In the 3rd drawer down of the resource cabinet (the one with the long, flat drawers, by the couch), there are examples of top-mark IA project folders from 2016.  You're welcome to take one of each example for your own reference.  They're great to use as exemplars, so you can see how other students have written various sections.  Do take more than one (but only one of each, please), so you have a range of examples to review.

Now, add on to your Criterion A.1 Google Doc.  Write up your market & user research.  The main goal of this section is to really, clearly identify what your problem is, from a consumer's point-of-view.  Ways that you can help clarify this include:

  • Identify who has the problem: demographics like age, socio-economic status, gender, and so on; sociographics like behavior patterns, preferences, beliefs, and so on; anthropometrics; and geographics like where they live.
  • Discover how it affects them.  What does this problem actually look like in real users' lives?  Interviews, observation, photographs or video, or task analysis are all possibilities.
  • Discover how much it affects them, in terms relevant to their lives.  Time, money, stress, fatigue, damage, loss, and so on.  What are the consequences of this problem.  (They don't need to be world-changing, even for the users who are affected.  Getting a real idea of the scope of the problem is better than bombastic, overblown claims about its importance.)
  • Identify who else has already solved this problem, or part(s) of it.  Other products or services that target this issue already exist (100% guaranteed).  Find them and identify them!  Which parts of your problem do they solve, and how?  For how much?  How popular are they?  (Social forums may be a good research source for this; are there user groups or interest groups that might be discussing this type of product?)
  • Do an initial mini market analysis to determine whether your problem could have a feasible solution.  The Invention Calculator is a really useful tool for this purpose.
    • Warning: most students using this tool make two serious mistakes
    • Choose a reasonable market percentage (under 5%, usually 1-2%).  If your product gets really popular, it may well go over that.  But assuming it will become that popular is fantasy rather than the practicality necessary for an IA Project Folder.
    • Look closely at the retail price vs. manufacturing cost.  The cost becomes your budget for manufacturing and is usually a fraction of the price.

Once you have your research documented in the Google Doc, add the link here for review.


All finished, so A2 is off for review.  Now it's time to get started on Criterion A.3: Design Brief.  Best get busy!

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