As a consultant, I work with many different clients from a variety of industries. My company, Electronic Ink, focuses on designing business systems, which means our projects are usually much more complex than the typical website.
My job as a design researcher is to uncover and understand the business needs and user needs. But even before beginning stakeholder interviews and user research sessions, I have to know something about the subject matter to ask the right questions and to understand what I’m hearing and observing. There is usually very little time at the beginning of a project to get up to speed on the subject matter. When the subject matter is very complex, I find that to be the most difficult part of the project.
I recently wrote an article for Johnny Holland (the interaction design blog) about this issue. Read the entire article: Learning the Subject Matter.