« Fancy redesigning urban parking? Nissan wants you to | Main | Driving an electric vehicle (EV) - what's it like? »


Ben Kraal


Now for your three bullet points. The first two are encapsulated by the idea of "ethnography" (which I place in quotes coz I'm an academic and I'm wary of stepping on the toes of other disciplines. Practitioners like Steve Portigal (google him) aren't bothered by that at all. :D ) The distinction between ethnography and things that are driven by marketing is fuzzy but ultimately comes down, for me, to the time in the product lifecycle when they take place.

Ethnographic sort of stuff happens *really* early in the lifecycle, maybe (hopefully) even before a designer puts pen to paper. That sort of research takes place *in order to design* because it's research about *people*. (With my sociologist hat on I am compelled to note that people and things are inseparable and, in many instances should be considered symmetrically, at least to start.)

Market research stuff (tends to) take(s) place after something's been designed and made into an artefact. It's research about *things*. The artefact has become so hi-fidelity that everyone's invested in it, as an idea, that there's all sorts of resistance to changing it.

It's the final bullet where the magic is. Translating from ethnography, observation or research into design is really, really hard and there are no formal methods to do it. In IT sort of things people have been struggling with it for years. Not the least because research is *specific* which you are trying to translate into *generalised* insights which then go through a design process in order to arrive at something *specific*.

The comments to this entry are closed.