Working together with Google

STBY and Google have recently completed a 6 month collaboration. Together with a new product development team at Google, STBY conducted two design research projects.

It is a huge pleasure for us to work with a company that has innovation at its very core. Google does not often rely on external consultants for research activities, and we feel great pride that STBY’s innovative and collaborative approach made this cooperation possible.

We started by conducting an initial exploratory research around current practice flows of relevant customers. In order to capture the behaviours happening in the real lives of the target customer group, STBY hosted a series of Customer Experience Labs. In each lab participants were asked to create a series of visual workflow and influence network maps around the practice being investigated. After all this information was analysed and synthesised into opportunities for service improvement, it formed the basis of a 4 meter long poster expressing the visual synthesis of the information collected. This poster, which traveled the world in between various Google offices, is now based in the office where the developers, designers and strategists of the client team do their daily activities – it is used as a daily work tool.

This initial exploratory design research project fitted the needs of Google at the early stage of product development. With product developments advancing fast, Google subsequently felt the need to also have more in-depth information about certain customer practices, and hence the second project with STBY was born. Since depth was required, we chose to conduct a series of in-depth and in-situ interviews with relevant customers. These interviews were captured on film. The films that fitted the most important insights & opportunities were edited into Design Documentaries (see more information about Design Documentaries here).

Clients are always welcome to join STBY researchers in fieldwork and analysis activities, and these two projects were no exception. In addition, together with the core Google team, we felt more people within the organisation could benefit from being exposed to the results, so we organised a show & tell event where the videos were screened and the discussed (while enjoying popcorn and drinks).

Innovation is hard (even for Google) and once again we witnessed how challenging it can be for products and services to survive in the messiness of everyday life. Embracing that people’s behaviour is diverse and complex, investigating it with the right analytical tools, and delivering the emerging materials and opportunities in the most impactful way: these are the key attributes of design research that made this collaboration with Google a success. We are looking forward to seeing the next stage in this development.