Getting to Better

Welcome to Getting to Better, our blog for stories, insights, and industry trends surrounding social innovation, capacity building, design thinking, and human-centred design.

How to Use an Empathy Map

Posted by Overlap

An Empathy Map is one of those tools that we always keep in our back pocket because it often produces an "aha!" moment and it is incredibly versatile.

Originally developed by Scott Matthews, Empathy Maps provide a process for empathizing with your own customers, service or product users, or stakeholders. They help us dig into a person's experience of the context in which we interact with them.

Continue reading to learn how to use an Empathy Map as a research tool and scroll to the bottom for a free download to try it yourself!

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Tags: Design Research, Human-centred Design, Tools, Engagement, Design Thinking

How a Journal Can be a Powerful Design Research Tool

Posted by Chelsea Mills

Journaling is a great way to collect in-depth data on a participant’s experiences. This post will take you through some of the benefits and drawbacks of journaling, and some tips on how you might use journals in your own research.

As with any research tool, there are a few things to take into consideration before deploying it to ensure you’re collecting useful data.

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Tags: Design, Design Research, Tools, Engagement

The Pros and Cons of Chatbots and How to Use Them to Gather Rich Data

Posted by Dave Dowhaniuk

Chatbot technology and user experience have come a long way since the days of Microsoft’s Office Assistant named Clippy. When designed well, today’s chatbots can help businesses automate, assist with user experience, and gather rich data from its customers.

Overlap’s design team uses chatbots for certain types of design research because they can access user data in a way surveys or person-to-person interviews cannot. Chatbots can produce phenomenal results, but to get there, they take plenty of planning, thoughtful design, and continual monitoring.

Overlap’s Senior Designer Dave Dowhaniuk participated in a Twitter chat with Startups Canada that dug into the pros and cons of chatbots. You can view the full chat on Storify and continue reading for Dave’s expanded answers on taking a human-centred approach to chatbot design.


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Tags: Design Research, Human-centred Design, Foresight

Are Street Teams the Right Research Tool for You?

Posted by Overlap

We're understanding more and more that including end-users, stakeholders, or customers of a product or service in the design process improves outcomes. So the next question is, how do you engage with them?

Street teams are one of the core research methods that we regularly use at Overlap to learn about people's needs. We use street teams in our human-centred design work when we need to gather insights from people in their communities.  

Continue reading to learn more about running street teams, when this method works best, and what type of research street teams are suited for.

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Tags: Design Research, Human-centred Design, Community Engagement

6 Street Team Tips for Impactful Public Research

Posted by Overlap

In this post, we’ll give you six street team tips and pass on some lessons our teams have learned over years of conducting research.

Street teams can gather impactful data, but we also know from experience how unnerving it can be to go up to a stranger and start asking them questions. Follow our six tips to get the data you’re looking for and to minimize street teamer stress.

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Tags: Design Research, Human-centred Design

Using Ethnography in Design Research Can Unearth Problems You Never Knew Existed

Posted by Jordan Nottrodt

Using Ethnography in design research can reveal rich human insights.

What if, instead of sending out a survey or bringing people into the lab, you went out and watched how they behave in the real world?

Ethnography is a human-centred research method where you immerse yourself in participant’s environment to gain a more in-depth and often profound perspective of their lives. With it, you can uncover problems and solutions you might never have known existed.

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Tags: Design, Design Research, Human-centred Design

You Don't Know It All. You Can't Do It All.

Posted by Lorraine Randell

You don’t know it all. You can’t do it all.

I keep passing this saying, written on a post-it note on the desk of a very esteemed colleague (who most of us would probably say is one of the best equipped to know more and do more) and it brings me back to the truth of why we do this work.

Within human beings there lies a desire to be the winner. We all want to be the one that jumps the fire and saves the princess. We all want to be seen as exceptional.

But when we are looking to solve complex social problems, being exceptional doesn’t help. Even being the best won’t get you where you want to go.

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Tags: Design Research, Diversity, Engagement, Collaboration

Designing Better: a Case Study in Human-Centered Design

Posted by Evaleen Hellinga

Human centered design is an immensely powerful concept and practice. Its power is illustrated in our recent project with the Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo-Wellington-Dufferin, investigating how we might improve the system of mental health and addictions services for adults in the region.

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Tags: Design Research, Service Design, Human-centred Design, Patient-Centred Design, Co-design, CMHA