When we're looking at an entirely new and different operating environment from that which we're immersed in, exploratory user research allows us to map the landscape, understand the local context and conditions, and identify potentials for innovation. It is after this understanding phase that we can select promising opportunity spaces to explore further or decide to develop a product or service that fills an identified gap in the market.
This approach allows us to formulate strategies for untapped market, understand the local context or assess the size and value of a particular sector in the informal economy.
In an exploratory design research project, the core component is the fieldwork, which usually consists of immersion in the local environment, where we conduct in-depth interviews as well as documentation of daily life in the form of notes and photographs.
Planning, preparation such as secondary research, protocol development and ideal user profiling become critically important when seeking to identify representatives of the target audience. Due to the small sample size characteristic of this qualitative approach, the rigorous process and methodology distinguishes the quality of the outcomes.