Ethnography in User Research

One of my favorite methods of User Research is Ethnography. It could also be the result of my love for traveling and photography.

Historically, ethnography has been used as a research tool in Anthropology and also made an appearance in the other fields like Documentary film making, Market Research etc. In HCI, Ethnography is often aimed at doing, but is unable to be carried out effectively, owing to the large amount of planning that one needs to go through, especially when the time is short and there is quick research to be done.

In the context of Designing for Social Impact, Ethnography holds a special place. The following diagram would explain the areas on which one needs to concentrate in the context of the social innovations. Framing the situation from the Design perspective, becomes crucial. And ethnography is a great tool to enable the design researcher to come up with answers to these points as one gets to analyze the situation closely by staying within the context.

Designing for Social Innovations

Any problem space can be said to be a design space. And within that design space lies a design problem. One has to however justify, why the problem at stake is a design problem and not say some other problem. Can governance problem be classified as a design problem? Can the lack of facilities in a rural school be classified as a design problem? Any problem that is identified, will give rise to a Design Opportunity. Once that has been understood, it is an imperative on the part of the designer to apply proper Design Thinking in order to come up with Design Solutions. So, in the case of our examples, would ensuring a better governance system, be a well ‘Designed Solution’ or a ‘Design Solution’ . Finally . . . → Read More: Ethnography in User Research