I found this story on Slashdot. The dude has a good approach. It’s a messy world with more questions than answers.
“I specialise in taking teams of designers, psychologists, usability experts, sociologists and ethnographers into the field. It’s called “corporate anthropology”, but personally I’m more comfortable with “design research“, because I’m not an anthropologist by training. We’re interested in design and in how what we design affects people’s lives. The tough part of the job is using the data we collect to inform and inspire how my colleagues think, and in turning this research into new ideas.”
What great insights for Nokia and designers!
The more our products live along side us/merge with us the more important this field research and understanding of real use becomes.
This is not focus grouping – which are usually unrealistic lab set ups where people are not in the same occasion/setting for their regular behaviors. Experiencing how people use technology in their regular environments is very different than your typical focus group survey or focus group lab. (man, we could write whole publications on the value (or lack thereof) of focus groups)
Why I really like this story and Nokia’s approach… that’s what I do. That’s what this blog (and the research, thinking, and posts you don’t see) are all about. Commercial anthropology. Observing the world, recording behavior and figuring out better questions to ask and putting insights to work in media, software development, and corporate strategy.