Where did the time go? A short post about Rapid Ethnography

Well, it happened. I let over six months go by with nary a blog post! Ack! And the thing is, I have been so busy, with lots of exciting UX stuff going on. So, I should have been writing about it all along. So, if you are still out there, and occasionally read my blog, thanks for that! I am going to write more. I took a great class last Fall-Methods in Human Computer Interaction. It was pretty intensive-I helped design a parking lot system-which is totally outside of my experience. That was incredibly useful. I think it helps to sometimes look at complex problems outside of your normal focus.

The class, because it focused on methods, introduced new methods each week. Some of them are so closely related, it makes one confused. But, my old favorites were there, although sometimes renamed. Bootstrap UX–who knew, a lot of folks call that Rapid Ethnography. There are some great articles out there: “Rapid Ethnography: Time Deepening Strategies for HCI Field Research,” includes a nice case study that illustrates the main components of the method. I like this article because it confirms the importance of ethnographic research in the design process. The case study mentioned did replace open-ended interviews with a “condensed ethnographic interview,” which specifically covered specific project bottlenecks and benefits. The acceleration of this method gets at the heart of how I have stream-lined my approach. It states, “Time spent looking at the broad landscape is time that is not focused in the area of critical importance to a product design team,” and “While there may be nuggets of gold in the data, they are just too hard to mine.”  I love the concept of applying an ethnographic approach to usability problems.

I have to go mine some usability screen casts done last week now, but I’ll be back tomorrow!


About effervescentlibrarian

UX Librarian at Rice University, Houston, Texas.
This entry was posted in ethnology, ux. Bookmark the permalink.

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