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Why Following Research Ethics Makes us a Better Human-Centred Design Agency

A research meeting.

 

Agencies, like TWG, that practice human-centred design know they can create better UX by inputting the firsthand experiences from research participants into their design. To do this they ask people to share details of their lives with them. 

Sometimes these details are about every day, regular things like how people do their groceries. 

But in some cases the topic can be more sensitive than that.

Take for example, personal finance or health-related issues. 

In these scenarios the details can be more intimate. As a result, it is important for agencies to follow design research ethics i.e. to be respectful when facilitating these interactions and do their best to protect the research partner’s rights, mental health, and privacy.

At TWG, we’ve strengthened our research ethics protocols by implementing industry best practices and tailoring them to our process. Some of these process improvements include a: robust informed consent process, data management policy, and research code of conduct. We believe this higher level of ethical maturity will benefit  participants, clients and end-users. 

Adhering to research ethics best practices ensures better participant insights 

By exercising genuine care and empathy for their interview subjects, agencies can create a higher level of trust between themselves and the research participants, and reinforce how valued the interview subjects are as collaborators in the research process. 

Trust and feeling valued equal comfort.

The more comfortable research participants feel when being interviewed, the more likely they will contribute pertinent insights. This will lead to a user experience that is:

  • more human-centred
  • more ethical
  • more helpful
  • more engaging
  • easier to navigate

A commitment to research ethics safeguards privacy and reputations

Without formalized research ethic protocols in place, it’s possible that a design agency could distribute interview audio, video or transcripts without the research participant’s consent. 

Unfortunately, even if done unintentionally, this can compromise a participant’s privacy and damage the agency’s and/or client’s reputation. 

For example, say a corporation  contracted an agency to conduct internal research and while the participants’ names were kept private on the shared data, the departments that they worked in weren’t. If a particular department was only made up of a few employees it wouldn’t take long for someone to deduce which person within that department made the controversial comments.

If research ethics checks and balances are in place, this type of storyline can be avoided.

Implementing research ethics reflects well on the clients being served

When a human-centred design agency hosts a research or usability session they ipso facto represent the client. 

The research participant has come into the session with a pre-determined impression about the client’s brand, product or service based on their previous experiences with it. 

By following design research ethics a human-centred design agency can ensure:

  • the session matches the participant’s established perception of the client’s brand 
  • that this latest experience with the client’s brand is a positive one

Being a practitioner of design ethics can lead to new opportunities

With design research ethics firmly entrenched in its DNA, a human-centred design agency will become more attractive to potential clients from verticals such as healthcare, legal and finance. 

Why? 

Because potential clients in these areas will recognize that such an agency has the protocols in place to manage sensitive subject matter interview sessions and data in a respectful and responsible manner.


Discover how research design ethics helps TWG uncover greater user insights.

Connect with a member of our TWG user research team, like Danielle, at hello@twg.io to learn more about our process.