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Structuring the Collaboration of Multiple Novice Design Ethnographers: Towards a New User Research Approach

Abstract : This paper proposes a new design research method to support businesses engaging in the innovation of products and services intended for use in public spaces. Increasing numbers of companies are turning to detailed user/consumer research often based on ideas from the design ethnography community. In an increasingly complex and fast moving business world, there is a need for faster user research that also provides a wider focus on the situation under investigation. A potential solution is using a larger number of fieldworkers on one study. As it would be difficult and costly to utilise many experienced design ethnographers, this may also involve the use of novices. This paper describes the development of a method for adapting existing practices to the emerging context outlined above (i.e. large numbers of fieldworkers, not all of whom necessarily have experience in ethnography). We discuss 3 field studies that show how the method can be applied and how it has been fine-tuned based on the outcomes. This method involves multiple groups of fieldworkers situated at a range of public spaces and each assigned with a specific theme of interest. The wealth of material that this fieldwork activity produces is then digested and insights are generated from it to help inform an understanding of existing behaviour within public space. This paper shows that fieldwork can be reduced to a set of simple tasks that can be successfully distributed over a group of novices facilitated by an experienced design ethnographer. This work will be extended further so that it can be applied as part of a toolkit for use in businesses where there is no established culture of utilising this type of user research.
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Paul Gault, Catriona Macaulay, Graham Johnson, Judith Masthoff. Structuring the Collaboration of Multiple Novice Design Ethnographers: Towards a New User Research Approach. 13th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (INTERACT), Sep 2011, Lisbon, Portugal. pp.118-135, ⟨10.1007/978-3-642-23768-3_10⟩. ⟨hal-01596907⟩

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