University of California Davis
This paper examines how ethnographic praxis as a means for driving social change via industry, went from a peripheral, experimental field, to a normalized part of innovation and product development – only to be coopted from within by a new language of power. Since the 1980s anthropologists have used their work to “make the world a better place,” by leveraging their tools of thick description and rich contextual knowledge to drive diversity and change within corporations and through their productions. As ethnography-as-method became separated from the field of Anthropology, it was opened to new collaborations with adjacent fields (from design, to HCI, to psychology, media studies, and so on). This “opening up” had a twofold effect, on the one hand it enabled greater “impact” (or influence) within institutions, but simultaneously subjected the field to cooptation. Recently, the practice of ethnography came to embrace the terminology of User Experience (UX) – though...
PechaKucha—This presentation explores the notion of flatness – the elision of multi-dimensionality in the lives we live, which increasingly take place online and interface through small screens. What does it mean to do research with people and understand their experiences and then to translate those experiences into flat design?
Keywords: Product Design, Experience Design
Bridget Monahan is a senior designer and researcher with MAYA Design, a design innovation and technology consultancy based in Pittsburgh, PA.
2016 Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference Proceedings, p. 535, ISSN 1559-8918,
by CHRIS HAMMOND and JESYKA PALMER, IBM Design Research
As consultants we practiced the basics of design thinking and user centered design for years with a range of organizations. However, upon joining IBM and learning to apply the IBM Design Thinking mindset, we both realized this way of working differed from our past experiences. This difference is largely expressed by the addition of “the Keys” or IBM’s way to scale design within a large, geographically disparate organization.
As researchers and strategists, the most resonate Key is Sponsor Users. A real challenge for enterprise and healthcare programs is access to users and their environment—rarely can you approach a hospital and ask if you can walk into an operating room with cameras and notepads in hand. In the healthcare space, we overcame the challenge by creating partnerships with clinicians and hospitals. These relationships brought clinicians onto our teams and closed the expertise gap. Clinicians shared with us a day in their lives and showed us their struggles...
by APALA LAHIRI CHAVAN, Human Factors International
Sibongile sighed and put her pen and journal down. Today was May 20, 2050. Was she just a nostalgic second cycler—facing another lifetime in the age of 150-year-olds? It was her 70th birthday and her brood of children, grandchildren, partner and ex-partners were all going to be hologramed in from across the world. Her partner worked on Google’s Project Infinity, a project so very confidential that she hadn’t heard from him in a year. Would he make contact today? She had made sure when upgrading her hologram delivery service that it took into account the possibility that Dingane could be orbiting in space while holograming!
She looked wistfully at her pen and paper journal. Completely obsolete now. She had, thanks to her foresight way back in 2016, hoarded a bunch of special pens and paper. But she had to be very, very careful about not showing them to anyone, not even her family. If anyone saw her using these, she would be termed an ‘archaic’ by the USO (USER segmentation...
by MICHAEL THOMAS, Ford Motor Company
User Experience (UX) Research and Design is a dynamic and diverse domain where designers, social scientists, and hybrids of all sorts are putting theory to work. It has successfully advanced a more holistic framing for human-centered design intervention, ideally keeping our attention on the user as the key unit of analysis at every stage. But we’re also discovering that herein lie potential opportunities for further refinement.
UX has familiar practical limitations, and we debate these continually—the best way to measure, how to communicate, appropriate sampling, sample size, methods, protocols, metrics, and so on. Its fundamental limitations, by contrast, are inherent theoretical assumptions and biases. It is critical to innovate at this level of UX’s underlying principles; to move beyond the generally unspoken assumptions that the user is necessarily an individual and that the user’s perceptions about discrete temporally and spatially bounded experiences are authoritative.
As a case...
In this never before shared case study, we explain how our UX research team increased its scope of work from surface-level UI issues to a full portfolio of user-centered research. We use organizational ethnography and organizational change literature to develop a three phase model of research team growth. We then discuss the implications of our model for strengthening ethnographic praxis in cultures dominated by usability engineering. We conclude with a reflection on building internal bridges to facilitate change. Keywords: organizational change, UI, UX, research, ethnography, usability, lean....
by KATHY BAXTER, Salesforce; CATHERINE COURAGE, DocuSign; & KELLY CAINE, Clemson University
Ten years is an eternity in the tech world. But the speed of change makes the classic “decade of reflection” even more valuable for assessing which changes really count and why. We had a chance to reflect systematically on the last decade of user experience research for the second edition of our book “Understanding Your Users,” which was first published in 2005. Since then, user research has become more widespread and more sophisticated. It has also responded to challenges of faster development cycles while simultaneously contributing more, not just to product development, but to the bigger picture of strategic innovation.
So among the noise of trendy terms and fashionable phrases we found five key trends that really do matter:
1. Usability to User Experience
One of the biggest changes is the shift from a focus on “usability” to “user experience.” “Usability” is an attribute of a system or user interface (UI). It...
by CHRISTINE T. WOLF, IBM Research
From conference rooms to conference calls, from our homey desk at the office to a hotel room across the world, people are working “on the go” in various ways. Mobile devices make many of these forms of mobile work possible. From the early days of the personal laptop, to the revolutionary Blackberrys and PDAs, to today’s smart phones, tablets, and wearables, our work tools are rapidly changing, and enterprises must quickly adapt new solutions to keep up with our constant mobile demands. At IBM, the importance of mobile enterprise solutions is on everyone’s mind. As we tackle the demands of the enterprise on the go, we are using ethnographic insights to further and deepen our understandings of what “mobile work” means today.
Consider Sally*, a tech consultant. She uses her phone to join a conference call with her team while driving to a client site in the morning. At the client site, she presents slides from her laptop and uses her phone to demo solutions. In the afternoon, she is back...
by CARRIE YURY, BeyondCurious
Critical thinkers that we are, researchers are skeptical of buzzwords, one-size-fits all methodologies, and facile business trends. We scowl as ‘ethnography’ is invoked just because someone actually talked with a customer. We say things like, “If you want to be Agile, try yoga.” Even so, we remain deeply committed to the core value of these approaches when they’re done right.
At BeyondCurious, we practice Agile Research. Why did we adapt our research practice to Agile? We did it because we had to. BeyondCurious is an innovation agency that specializes in mobile experiences for enterprise clients. Mobile moves incredibly fast. In order to be an effective, viable, and integral part of BeyondCurious’ mobile design and development process, research has to be done in sync with the rest of the team. And the rest of the team, from strategy and design to development, works in two week, agile sprints.
It wasn’t easy, but we’ve adapted our research methods—from ethnography to UX research—to...
EPIC Profiles Series
by KATHARINA ROCHJADI, Swinburne University of Technology
At 7 am sharp on a Monday morning, Skype broke the silence with an incoming call. On the line was an affable, well-spoken woman with a British accent. It was Elizabeth Churchill, a familiar name in the EPIC community and a founding member of its steering committee. It was a great pleasure to speak with such a prominent figure in ethnographic praxis. Elizabeth is Executive Vice President of ACM SIGCHI and Director of User Experience at Google. Until very recently (in fact, at the time of this interview) she was Director of Human-Computer Interaction at eBay Research, and prior to that founder of the Internet Experiences Group at Yahoo! Research.
Elizabeth routinely starts her morning by checking her emails. “I check to see what’s happening in the world, and also to connect with collaborators and colleagues in the research world as well as at my workplace. I like to check in and see if there is anything I need to catch up on as soon as I get up...
ERIN O’LOUGHLIN, GINA LUCIA TAHA and MICHELE VISCIOLA
Application of a user-centered approach rooted in ethnographic methodologies facilitates a major European bank’s transition to a business strategy based on understanding people’s needs, behaviors, values and motivations. Three UX case studies conducted over three years illustrate our educator, moderator, partner framework for collaborating with large enterprises in flux....
JULIE MARIE NORVAISAS and JONATHAN “YONI” KARPFENLinkedIn
LinkedIn's User Experience Design (UED) Research team is relatively small. The data we gather is even more drastically outnumbered. LinkedIn’s design and product development process is steeped in behavioral data, real-time metrics, and predictive models. Working alongside teams generating and focused on big numbers, our group of qualitative researchers helps decision makers understand how our products fit into members’ lives, envision future experiences, and take a peek behind the numbers. We'll share how our team discovers and uses “little data” to inform and inspire, in the context of a company driven by “big data.”...
KNOWL BAEK, KYLE DUKE, ROY LUO, MONICA LEE and ANIJO MATHEW
This paper illustrates how the concept of “Human API” can help cancer post-treatment cancer patients with challenges they face once they are released from the hospital. The results and implications of this semester long graduate project will help illuminate how the Human API through its various data collection methods could potentially play a larger role in extended cancer care. The research will also attempt to determine if hyper-connected networks of individual patients could become effective sources of information for health institutions to engage and connect with patients after treatment or surgery....
TODD S. HARPLE, GINA LUCIA TAHA, NANCY VUCKOVIC and ANNA WOJNAROWSKA
This case study on mobility in health care demonstrates how ethnography and design research helped Intel meet the business challenge of redressing market share. Ethnography enabled the team to assess the interplay between mobile devices and other hospital technologies, understand how they fit within or subverted existing practices, and document positive and negative features of the technology. Our deliverables not only answered the direct business question, but also expanded the scope of possible solutions....
ARVIND VENKATARAMANI and CHRISTOPHER AVERY
Ethnographic and other related practices in industry focus - for a variety of historical reasons - primarily on studying the experiences of individuals/institutions as consumers/users. We suggest that this framing limits our work to descriptive forms of knowledge, and renders invisible larger social and institutional changes that nevertheless have an impact on the domains we study, and whose invisibility curtails the forms of innovation we can support. While a variety of practitioners are indeed broadening the range and scope of their work, we contend that for this expansion to succeed sustainably in our community it must also incorporate a discourse on values, and engage with other forms of knowing outside the frame of consumers and users, by encompassing context and engaging in a values discourse....