The study into the earning capacity of the semantic database Khnum for a Dutch-speaking target group is completed. We want to thank everyone cordially who has cooperated in the research.
You can download the complete text in Dutch here: masterproef earningCapacityKhnum.pdf (2.985kB)
The research is now extended to an international target group. If you did not fill in the Dutch survey yet, you are invited to do so in English. Find the English survey here.
The intention of this research is to find out if there exists an interest for Khnum with professionals in creative design (advertisement, (interior) architecture and product design) and what their opinion is about the application. To form a picture of the potential customers. To find out if the offered information really contribute to the needs of the potential users, how much value this information has, if they want to pay for it and what the most suitable payment model is. Moreover, it is the intention to note suggestions the professionals make concerning the database. For the Dutch-speaking target group this happened by means of personal interviews and an online inquiry.
RESULTS OF THE DUTCH INQUIRY
Although the sample scope and the nature of the sample are not precise enough, conclusions nevertheless can be carefully drawn, and some surprising results are noticed.
The creative process
All persons questioned follow approximately the same course in the processing of a design order, from creation to the end delivery. The bigger the company the more people (professional fields) are involved in the creative process. However, irrespective of the size of the organization, sources are used by almost everyone (97.22%). Mainly between projects lots of reading is done, to keep up with the recent developments in the field, to look at the work of other designers and to gain inspiration.
An individual company claimed that in principle they never make use of sources because as stylists, they are informed already of what lives in the design world and they go along unconsciously in those recent trends.
Sources are less used as an aid during the actual process of design and creation. The majority of the interviewees indicated that the bulk of the work relies on the experience of the designers, on the wide experience, which their company has acquired through the years from previous orders, and on simple, everyday situations or concepts, which you encounter on the street. Almost everyone indicated to trust his / her gut feeling. Nevertheless, that gut feeling is supported by rules and theories more or less scientifically founded.
At one of the visited companies, we even found a real brainstorm room filled with illustrated magazines and specialist books. “Here the creatives can assimilate in the matter of a design order and their choices are based on graphic material.” Much depend on the sort of company. B2B offices will work in a different way than an office that is especially aimed at consumers.
Concerning the justification of a design towards a client, it appears that most companies confirm their choices to persuade the contractor that certain choices did not came out of the blue. In case there are no (house style) guidelines the interviewees indicate that much of the choices are rather subjective. “It is difficult to be absolute that a certain colour belongs to something, it also depends on the specific situation and the service or the product which the client offers.” One talks beforehand with the client to look at what message he wants to send and which colours and forms would be appropriate to deliver this message.
Choices are also made in regard of content, meaning and feeling; something is not chosen just like that because it is in vogue at that moment. The majority of the interviewees indicate to strive for timeless design and aesthetics appear to be very important also.
On the other hand there were individuals who answered that their clients seldom or never ask for an explanation and they are convinced they don’t have to give one. According to them a design must speak for itself, be intuitive and there is a problem if an explanation is needed.
Khnum: useful or worthless
Since the semantic database is not yet operational it was difficult to indicate what the application could mean to a designer. A short description and some screenshots had to do the work. In spite of this handicap a majority thought the database was a very pretty idea and an useful instrument. The contents of the data in Khnum: data of meaning on imaging language and the consult of the examples and quotations, certainly would contribute to the needs of the company. E.g. to present a design towards a client afterwards and to support it rationally. Or simply to browse and to gain inspiration. One looks out for Khnum as a good research tool to examine what exists already and to check a design. As an efficient tool because time can be saved on thinking: “you can consult associations without finding them first yourself.”
On the other hand there is a group of designers that are completely sceptically. They absolutely do not grasp the added value of Khnum. They are concerned for their creative freedom. They think that if everybody will use Khnum designs will look the same everywhere. Some fear that it will become a database of (out-of-date) stereotypes. Anyhow they find a scientifically founded database not necessary: “As long as something looks cool it is fine. You can question the scientificallity of the offered information also.” And the most paranoiac observation: “You give the client a type of checklist in hands so that afterwards they will be able to point what there is not well to your design.”
The greater part of the interviewees nevertheless showed to be rather careful when it comes to money. They certainly want to use the database in case it would be available for free. “Free basic use, extra features on payment” and “contributions” are globally the two most preferred payment methods. On the other hand there were also people who realized how much time and work is involved in developing this database and for this reason they agreed that it might cost something. A hard but small core of antagonists would never want to use the database even if it is offered for free.
The designers questioned showed that they gladly would like to contribute content to Khnum themselves. And that possibility would raise the enthusiasm of the users certainly. Also they see the use of the database increase if the data were incorporated with existing tools such as Google or stockphoto sites.
When commercializing a new tool such as Khnum a lot of research is needed. For instance similar English-speaking study, which has now started and will run till november. Moreover a usability study of the interface of the database enforces itself.
The results of the interviews and the online survey indicate that for the Netherlands and Belgium a certain enthusiasm and curiosity exist for the project. We will now see if the attitude of the stylists in the low countries towards an innovating tool as Khnum can be compared with the opinion of their international colleagues.