This article was written in 2017. It might or it might not be outdated. And it could be that the layout breaks. If that’s the case please let me know.

The trails of my research

To get my research going I started working on a visual overview of my research area. A technique we use right now is creating so called trails. If I understand the concept correctly, these trails can be seen as the different relevant directions of a mind map. Here’s a link to the complete interactive outline of this mind map. This outline is a living document, it will be updated. So far I’ve found four trails that I want to further explore:

1. The urge to make things

In this trail I want to investigate three things:

  1. Why do people want to create stuff? I’m sure I can find quite a few different reasons.
  2. When is this stuff Good. In other words: what are the different definitions of quality that different creators use.
  3. What are the restrictions these people have to work with. On the long run I’m probably going to focus on the web, but right now I’m open to all kinds of materials and products.

2. The need to use things

Here I want to find out the different reasons why people have to use things. And I’m especially interested in conflicts and similarities between this trail and the one about the urge to make things. I think getting a good overview of the differences and the things the have in common will be key in creating the right deliverables, later on in the process.

The three main branches in this trail are similar to the previous one:

  1. What are the reasons why people use things?
  2. What are the different definitions of quality for all kinds of people
  3. What are the restrictions these people have to live and work with

3. Possible deliverables

This is of later concern. I have a few ideas, but I think it’s too early to start creating just yet. First I want to get inspired by my fellow students, the new environment I’m in (art school yeah!) and by the people I’m going to meet.

4. Sources

My main problem here is: how do I keep track of all these different sources. I know how to save links and I know how to save web pages. But I’m lost when it comes to cataloging parts of conversations, pages in books, sections in articles, and snippets of videos and podcasts. I think I need some help here. I’m clearly not a librarian (yet).


    • Hanneke Briër
    • #

    Hello Vasalis Vasilis,

    You’ve kick-started your design research by using your posts in this blog to think about stuff that matters to you. The roll down you use in tracking what you look for, and what you find, will be useful. At this moment, it’s still in abstracts – the moment you start filling it with names, sources and images, it will become personalized.
    What the roll down misses, compared to a mapping, is an easy way to see connections. These help you form your idea, chose what to do and what not to and see what is lacking. Try to figure out how to solve this.
    Another thing to work on: can you find a way to get you questions in? They are an important in tool in understanding where to go.

    Looking forward to see the next versions of your trails!


  1. Dear Vasilis, I’m interested in your approach in saving your sources. I have the exact same problem, that you describe, and no solution. I’d love to read inspiration from you :-) I’m also glad, to read more about your views on accessibility in design. Thanks!