Frances Duncan

  • Excerpt from Kellogg design process report

Design research

“Alive and Well”

Williams College was creating a new environmental center that aimed to achieve Living Building certification. The college wanted to gather data on the building’s energy use and communicate that data in a dynamic and compelling way to the building’s occupants and other people and institutions. But how? Williams invited me to consult on the design process for this yet-to-be-created tool. My goal was to help determine the project audience and recommend potential solutions. Who is interested in this building’s energy use? How might they engage with this information? How could we foster meaningful, interactive experiences?

Over the course of two months, I worked with project stakeholders and potential users, including faculty, staff, students, and members of the community, to understand the project context and articulate and prioritize specific project goals. I facilitated two one-hour meetings with the stakeholder team and conducted over twenty hourlong exploratory interviews with potential users across a targeted cross-section of of the Williams community.

Throughout the design research process, the team referred to the outcome of the project as “the tool.” During the course of our meetings and interviews, it quickly became clear that the tool wasn’t any one thing, but a number of interrelated technologies and approaches. At the end of the project, I delivered a report synthesizing and outlining what we worked together to create — describing the specific project goals, audiences, and potential features — and a recommended path forward that was sensitive to the college’s time and resources.


Design Research, Design Process Management, User Interviews


Report delivered December 2014