Monday, 23 June 2008

5 Key Aspects of Observational Research

I discussed in my previous post how understanding the ways in which your customers engage with your products and services is a great way to draw out improvements and opportunities for innovation. Watching them engage with your offerings in their natural environment is the key, and Dave Pollard has identified 5 things to look for when carrying out observational research; otherwise known as 'ethnography' or even 'customer anthropology'.

  1. Workarounds - things people do that the existing product, process, tool or facility was never designed to accommodate, but which helps them to get the job done that they need to do.
  2. User torture - Evidence of obvious customer discomfort, either physical or psychological
  3. Obstacles and barriers - Signs that people can't do their job because of a physical or procedural barrier.
  4. Repurposed objects - Tools designed for one thing have been appropriated to do something else.
  5. Wear patterns - Evidence of stress or overuse in the product

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