User Research is a process which seeks to understand how Users might engage with your service in the real world before the service actually exists.
Ethnography is about observing user behaviour in context, it relies on observations rather than asking users what they do.
To fully understand the User Experience it is essential to observe the:
- Context – what is going on around the person you’re observing.
- Cultural Practices – ideas, customs and communal behaviours.
- Relationships – observe the relations between people (or people and objects).
- Emotions – how people are feeling and why – does it change over the period of a day.
Filming interactions is a really helpful process, but must be done ethically. Aquire the consent of staff and users. These might be day long, shared experiences which are filmed, which mean you have a full, deep understanding of the users’ lives and their motivations and culture.
Whilst this is expensive, and time consuming it yields benefits because it informs your perspective on the more targeted research to follow. I guess its a way of making sure that you understand the landscape in which your service is situated so that it complements and enhances that landscape.
There is real value in keeping an ethnographic perspective, particularly in the early stages of service design. This is another example of the wisdom of meeting people where they are.
Wise words Ella, thank you.