Founded in 1957, Coloplast provides ostomy, urinary, wound, and skin care products for users with “intimate healthcare needs.” Some of their customers represent the most vulnerable users in the world. As such, empathy for patients permeates all aspects of the company culture and design team.
“Coloplast has a rich history of having quite a close relationship with the people who use its products,” explains one of the company’s Senior User Researchers, Matt Dexter. “From our very inception through to now, we’ve always had a relationship with the people who use our products.”
To design and research for their users, they often need to leverage in-person observation. Though coming face-to-face with their users for research is ideal and can provide incredible insights, it’s not easy to scale—especially when their team is only a handful of people. And especially when they need to design for a globalized market.
Beyond that, the methodologies that Coloplast relies on need to make participants feel comfortable being candid.
“The way we access our users greatly affects the methods that we use,” Matt explains. “I’ve worked in places where you could do guerrilla research and you can access people that use your product quickly.”
“But with [Coloplast] it’s the exact opposite because of the taboo that is associated with a lot of our products. They cut to the very core of what it means to be a human being or a functioning adult. People don’t want to be outed. So, we don’t want to out people as a catheter user, or an ostomate, or somebody living with a hard to heal wound.”
For Coloplast to take their research to the next level, they’ve leveraged dscout to capture audio, photos, and video to complement their traditional face-to-face research. Doing so sometimes provides for even more groundbreaking and innovative research insights as well.
“A little over a year ago, I led a significant piece of research where we asked some of our users to film themselves using our product in a very intimate setting”, recalls Louise Lysgaard Hasbeck, Head of User Research. “It was quite the undertaking in terms of research design, but it had such a great impact on our understanding of what it means to be a user of our products. This was to such an extent that a very senior member of the company declared that he’d learned things that he hadn’t seen after decades of manufacturing these products."
“This was only possible because of the videos that captured actual real-life use. There’s a real difference between being told something and seeing something for yourself.”
Example study: Clarifying with qual
Matt: “We’re working on a project now where we had a really big piece of quant research done. It involved 150 professional users in eight different countries. They were presented with some prototypes. They ranked their favorites. What we found was even though our engineers had done some wizardry and come up with some awesome concepts, the quantitative data set said that they preferred what was already on the market.
That picture was confusing because it didn’t match up with other data points we had. So the question becomes, ‘What’s going on?’ We conducted an observational study with some professional users that hadn’t been a part of the quant study with a small sample of eight users.
We were able to use that qualitative data that we found as a lens by which we could understand the more confusing aspects of the quantitative data that we’d got. And what would happen in another organization is if you had that quant data, you might risk making the incorrect decision of sticking with what you already got because 150 people across eight countries say it’s good enough. Whereas all it takes is a well-designed qualitative study to reframe the data on hand so that you can see what the next step is. That’s the real value to our team.
And the deliverable that changed the whole process came down to the a two-minute video reel. Two minutes redefined the entire scope of that project.”