Go to Top

Design Research

Infuse the design process with user-focused insight.

The human brain is not a wellspring, it is a processor. And creativity is not an output process. It is an input-output process. At Sundberg-Ferar, Design Research is, in part, the input side of the input/output equation. It fuels our creative process, and enables our clients to make bold decisions that might previously have been considered too risky.

What We Do….(Design Research Specialties)

  • New Product Development: At the outset, we are not looking for statistically significant findings, but rather, the nuggets of information that will encourage us to generate concepts that we otherwise may have missed using a variety of methods (e.g. interviews, direct or staged observation, participatory and/or generative techniques.) We attempt to frame in and fine tune the emotional characteristics of the ideal user experience. We dig for thoughts and observations that can manifest themselves in unique and compelling product concepts. And we include our designers and engineers every step of the way!
  • Usability Testing: Usability testing is done from the user’s point of view. If the correct requirements are not gathered or if requirements are not translated into correct design, the user interface will not meet the user’s needs. We work to describe the optimal “look and feel” and usage features of the product. We check whether the product is easy to use for different categories of end users. We identify the differences between the UI, (software or product) and the human user needs or requirements as it relates to satisfaction and aesthetics features. And most importantly, we translate those learnings into design guidelines.
  • Buyer Experience: Understanding the buyer’s cognitive journey from needs assessment through purchase commitment. The buyer’s journey stalls or ends wherever buyers fail to get their questions answered or fail to find answers sufficient, trustworthy, and compelling. We help clients understand the potential pain points along this journey and develop strategies to re-focus their brand, create products, messaging, packaging, displays, and other brand experience touch points that turn shoppers into brand advocates.
  • Styling Evaluation: We realize that extraordinary new concepts are often polarizing. We have developed a quantitative research methodology, MAPSS™ (Measuring Adoption Propensity in Styling Selection) that acknowledges the human tendency towards neophobia, and uses that knowledge to empower our clients to introduce products with lasting market appeal and higher profit margin potential.


How We Get There… In Person and Online Research

  • In-depth Interviews
  • Focus Groups
  • Mini Groups, Diads & Triads
  • Circle of Friends
  • Customer Intercepts
  • In-store Shop Alongs
  • Observational Studies
  • Product Clinics
  • Consumer Diaries
  • Ride & Drives
  • Web Cam Groups & Interviews
  • Web Surveys
  • Message Boards/Chat Forums
  • MAPSS (Measuring Adoption Propensity Styling Selection)


Sundberg-Ferar has in-house focus group research facilities with complete audio/video capabilities, and viewing room capacity. Our research staff has a strong foundation in qualitative and quantitative methods, and is committed to designing and executing creative, effective approaches to support our concept development, refinement and evaluation efforts. We guide our clients to discover desirable pathways and solidify hypotheses that move the development needle.


“Chance favors the mind that is prepared.” Louis Pasteur

“In all the years of developing the Minivan, we never once got a letter from a housewife asking us to invent one.”  Hal Sperlick, Chrysler Corporation