Research / Ethnographic Research
What is Ethnographic Research?
Ethnographic research is observing someone in their natural environment to understand motivations, attitudes and behaviors.
- Typical method includes observation along with a semi-structured interview to obtain information about the context of use, where users are asked a set of standard questions and then observed as they interact in their own environments
- It differs from standard interviews by allowing the interviewee to share artifacts of the environment, demonstrate processes with tools on hand.
- Through the process of demonstration, this method allows participants to be “in the moment” and recall things in a more meaningful way.
Why do we do Ethnographic Research?
- To design effective experiences we need to know specifically who we’re building for and what they do.
- We do site visits, observations and interviews to see real people, in real settings, doing real work, because understanding the audience is essential to designing appropriate tools for the workplace.
- To capture the behaviors as well as the motivations behind the behaviors.
Explore smart home early adoption, understand how people are using voice assistants and other new technologies, look for unmet needs.
Explore college libraries, focus on technology, copiers, scanners, internal systems and interacting with physical books.
Explored schools and student homes in three countries to understand how technology was being implemented into the schools. Found the 1-1 model to be desired as long as there was an IT budget and training for the teaching staff. Parents needed reassurance that their child would not be held responsible for an expensive device.