What they didn’t know they needed

Session Title

What they didn’t know they needed


Megan Grocki, Mad*Pow

Session Type: Presentation

Research traditionally uncovers known complaints and desires in terms of what people will tell you. However it is via contextual or ethnographic observation that you can witness “real world” behaviors, influences, scenarios, technologies, and actors all of which help you get the sense for what will truly delight someone or alleviate frustration.

Noticing where people spend their time doing things they “have to” and don’t “want to” will lead to inspiration of what would make their life more convenient and less frustrating. An observation of what people want to do, enjoy doing, or look forward to doing, will lead to inspiration around what will make them shout from the rooftops in glee.

In this presentation we will discuss how research inspires design and how reality inspires creativity.

If you simply ask users about what would make life better, you will rarely get meaningful answers. They are just not good at envisioning revolutionary solutions. It is really easy trap to fall into during a traditional usability test to ask “what would the ideal experience be for you?” Unfortunately, if you base your design on those responses, you won’t get a breakthrough.

Instead of relying on divine intervention for new ideas, we will focus on activities such as Laddering, Game play, Storytelling and Triading that can help expose opportunities for radical innovation and designing products that people can’t live without.


Megan Grocki, Senior Experience Designer, Mad*Pow

With 13 years experience in user experience design, Megan specializes in helping clients such as as Fidelity, Aetna, Dunkin’ Brands, and Constant Contact discover the attitudes, intents, and behaviors of their users and understand how they think about content. By facilitating a user-centered design process and being a user advocate, she is able to improve the organization and presentation of information in a way that rings true with the audience and meets business goals.

Megan holds a B.A. from the University of New Hampshire, and is currently continuing her education in the field of user experience and human-computer interaction.

She is an active member of the Usability Professionals Association (UPA), Information Architecture Institute (IAI) and Interaction Design Association (IxDA) and a founding member of the NH UPA.

World traveler, papercrafter and reasonably decent cook, Megan loves her young family, baseball and living near the ocean.


  1. Posted September 23, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    This sounds great. I think we too often just talk about the process of gathering customer data, but we don’t talk enough about what to do with that data once you have it. I’d love to see how other people use customer data to drive design.

  2. Lori W. Cavallucci
    Posted September 29, 2009 at 10:28 am

    I would love to hear more about these activities to help gather more useful data to benefit design. I haven’t used any of these techniques, but look forward to this presentation so that I may add them to my body of knowledge.

  3. Posted October 1, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    Megan, I have heard of two of these four techniques but I’m uncertain if any of them are what I think they are. Could you explain a little more about each of the methods you plan to talk about?

    Illustrating these methods would make this a solid talk. Are there or real-world examples you could use? Do you plan to include a demonstration of each of these methods?

    based on the abstract, I’m a little unclear if this is a methods talk, an inspirational talk, or a blend of both.