The Ethnography of Design

I’ve been looking at ethnographical studies to determine how researchers and experts collaborate. Of course, this proposes that ethnographic analysis can inform design. This leads me to reflect further on the impact of the research results on the way that online environements in which researchers and experts collaborate are designed.

Ethnography is a research method in which the researcher observes people in their natural environment so as to gain insight into the ways in which people inhabit their spaces, use their products and interact with the various physical, social, economical and ecological systems around them. It is a heavily qualitative research method, involving much participant-observation — observing and recording the actions and decision-making processes of individuals and groups in a given environment.

There are several different ways in which ethnographic methods can be used in the design world:

  • an ethnographer collects data and reports to a designer
  • an ethnographer and designer work together and study a certain population
  • an ethnographer, designer and end-user collaborate as a team

and so on…


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