Preparing for ethnographic interviews in Java

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Preparing for ethnographic interviews
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Ethnography is a term borrowed from anthropology, meaning the systematic and immersive study of human cultures. In anthropology, ethnographic researchers
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Part I: Understanding Goal-Directed Design
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spend years living immersed in the cultures they study and record. Ethnographic interviews take the spirit of this type of research and apply it on a micro level. Rather than trying to understand behaviors and social rituals of an entire culture, the goal is to understand the behaviors and rituals of people interacting with individual products.
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Because the designers must capture an entire range of user behaviors regarding a product, it is critical that the designers identify an appropriately diverse sample of users and user types when planning a series of interviews. Based on information gleaned from stakeholders, SMEs, and literature reviews, designers need to create a hypothesis that serves as a starting point in determining what sorts of users and potential users to interview. The persona hypothesis We label this starting point the persona hypothesis, because it is the first step towards identifying and synthesizing personas, the user archetypes we will discuss in detail in the next chapter. The persona hypothesis should be based on likely behavior patterns and the factors that differentiate these patterns, not purely on demographics. It is often the case with consumer products that demographics are used as screening criteria to select interview subjects, but even in this case, they should be serving as a proxy for a hypothesized behavior pattern. The nature of a product s domain makes a significant difference in how a persona hypothesis is constructed. Business users are often quite different from consumer users in their behavior patterns and motivations, and different techniques are used to build the persona hypothesis in each case. The persona hypothesis is a first cut at defining the different kinds of users (and sometimes customers) for a product. The hypothesis serves as the basis for initial interview planning; as interviews proceed, new interviews may be required if the data indicates the existence of user types not originally identified. The persona hypothesis attempts to address, at a high level, these three questions:
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What different sorts of people might use this product How might their needs and behaviors vary What ranges of behavior and types of environments need to be explored
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4: Understanding Users: Qualitative Research
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Roles in business and consumer domains For business products, roles common sets of tasks and information needs related to distinct classes of users provide an important initial organizing principle. For example, for an office phone system, we might find these rough roles:
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People who make and receive calls from their desks People who travel a lot and need to access the phone system remotely Receptionists who answer the phone for many people People who technically administer the phone system
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In business and technical contexts, roles often map roughly to job descriptions, so it is relatively easy to get a reasonable first cut of user types to interview by understanding the kind of jobs held by users (or potential users) of the system. Unlike business users, consumers don t have concrete job descriptions, and their use of products may cross multiple contexts. Therefore, it often isn t meaningful to use roles as an organizing principle for the persona hypothesis for a consumer product. Rather, it is often the case that you will see the most significant patterns emerge from users attitudes and aptitudes, as manifest in their behaviors. Behavioral and demographic variables In addition to roles, a persona hypothesis should be based on variables that help differentiate between different kinds of users based on their needs and behaviors. This is often the most useful way to distinguish between different types of users (and forms the basis for the persona-creation process described in the next chapter). Despite the fact that these variables can be difficult to fully anticipate without research, they often become the basis of the persona hypothesis for consumer products. For example, for an online store, there are several ranges of behavior concerning shopping that we might identify:
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Frequency of shopping (from frequent to infrequent) Desire to shop (from loves to shop to hates to shop) Motivation to shop (from bargain hunting to searching for just the right item)
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Although consumer user types can often be roughly defined by the combination of behavioral variables they map to, behavioral variables are also important for identifying types of business and technical users. People within a single business-role definition may have different needs and motivations. Behavioral variables can capture this, although often not until user data has been gathered.
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