Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Research preparation


In order to gain an understanding of our user in their environment, we conducted Contextual Inquiries to gather customer data. This method of research, based on the Beyer and Holtzblatt methodologies, gives us an explicit view of the work being done in order to understand it on the user's level, and to also gather the "low-level" details of the work that have become habitual and invisible. The idea of context implies going to the costumers' workplace or environment to observe them in action, and developing a partnership in order to talk to them about their work experience, and to engage them in detailed explanations. Through interpretation, we can develop a shared understanding about the importance of the tasks being done. Our initial focus is to study the Separations between people and their significant others, and how they incorporate technology into tools for communication, and fashion to get a sense of their Culture, or Subculture.

To start our research we brainstormed some possible locations that we would be able to find our target user. Locations where the user would be separated from their significant others was where we could gather concrete information.
  • The airport.
  • People at work.
  • Parents at home when children are at home.
  • People running errands.
  • People on vacation.
We then created a list of questions that would help guide our contextual inquiries in the direction that allowed us to discover the areas that pertained to aspects of our focus:
  • When couples were separated, how they coped.
  • Specific instances when couples were separated and wanted to be with the other.
  • Routines that they performed and then how they where affected when the other wasn’t there.
  • What where personal traits/quarks about the other that they remembered.
  • How they felt about fashion, trends and their own.
  • What type of technology they used and what they always have on them.
  • How they communicate when together compared to when separated.


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