In a recent convo on Twitter, Janna DeVylder, Dave Malouf, Steve Baty and I were discoursing about the difficulties of traversing the Research > Design chasm. Some really great thoughts ensued. So, I thought I'd keep the convo going here.
It's a topic I'm keely interested in. Having helped present From Design to Research at Agile '09, and having worked on this for many years, I still realize I have lots to learn.
I do feel we need to ensure our project stakeholders understand how our research leads to and informs our designed artifacts. We have an ethical requirement to trace what elements our artifacts consist of to appropriate levels of research.
Now, I don't necessarily think this means we have to say, "The reason we have a 6px radius on the top left and top right of the login box but a 0px radius on the bottom is that 6 of 9 users we observed in the field indicated that those radiuses would work better for them."
On the other hand, we can't do a bunch of research, then wander into our whiteboard-walled conference rooms and sketch designs full-born from our heads, like Athena from Zeus. Our research must infomr our design in concrete ways.
How concrete, and to what documented extent, is variable. Ye twe cannot fail to practice rigor in our approach to our designs. To do otherwise borders on the unethical.