While there is increasing interest in designing for the developing world, identifying appropriate design research methods for understanding user needs and preferences in these unfamiliar contexts is a major challenge. This paper demonstrates how to apply a variety of statistical techniques to an online design case study repository, Human-Centered Design (HCD) Connect, to discover what types of methods designers use for identifying user needs and preferences for developing-world problems. Specifically, it uncovers how the following factors correlate to method usage: application area (e.g., farming versus healthcare), affiliation of the person using the method (IDEO designer versus not), and stages of the user research process. It finds that designers systematically use certain types of methods for certain types of problems, and that certain methods complement each other in practice. When compared with non-IDEO users, professional designers at IDEO use fewer methods per case and focus on earlier stages of the process that involve data gathering. The results demonstrate the power of combining data-driven statistical techniques with design case studies to identify user research methods for different developing-world problems, as well as locating which research methods complement each other. It also highlights that professionals designing for developing-world contexts commit more time to earlier stage user research efforts, rather than in concept generation or delivery, to better understand differences in needs and design contexts.

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