Evangeline Ng
Product Designer


What is Ethnographic Research?

Ethnographic research

Ethnographic Research in UX are qualitative research where a researcher usually has face-to-face sessions with the participants on the research topic. It usually consist of user behavior observations, interviews, and focus groups.

Ethnographic Research

Why do we deploy Ethnographic Research?

Ethnographic Research allows us to find out who our users will be (or are), and their background, environment and where they will use the products at. In a broader sense, it will provide us key details that may prove or disprove our hypothesis.

For example, when I was designing an online word bank, I have assumed that my users would be casual learners until someone on LInkedin reached out to me expressing interest in the product to study for his exams. This then proves that my target users are not casual learners, but serious learners.

Ethnographic Diverse

Ensure that your design/research team and participants are diverse.

This is because when we’re designing for a diverse user base, we should have participants and teammates who can represent our users. Debating ideas and perspective would also spark inspiration for solutions.

Ethnographic Reason

Develop Empathy and Rapport with Participants

Getting research participants are hard. I’ve been there. I’ve spammed my friends and groupchats to help complete a survey, added a survey link to my bio and the best I got was probably 30. (You might get more as an extrovert). However, they might not even be our user target audience.

One method that works for me was going down to the place where your target audience hangs out and approach them politely asking for 5-15 minutes of their time and thank them afterwards with a candy bar.

Showing genuine interest in the people you’re talking to instead of telling yourself that you’re being creepy can help overpower the nervousness. Afterall you’re really just there to learn more about them!

Ethnographic 5 Why

Ask Why 5 Times

Asking why 5 times may seem a little awkward but if your participant has already agreed to help you in the study, you should be able to push the awkwardness aside, and learn the root cause from them. Think of it this way. If you hadn’t gotten the real root cause, your research results will not be of as high quality and this results in a waste of both the participant and your time.

Ethnographic Affinity Diagramming

Affinity Diagram

Affinity diagramming refers to organizing related facts into distinct clusters.

Affinity diagramming is also known as affinity mappingcollaborative sortingsnowballing, or Card Sorting.

The purpose of Affinity Diagramming is to extract the team’s analysis and interpretation from the research and then, categorising individual ideas/analysis/intepretations into groups.

This way, we ensure that everyone is literally on the same page.

Source: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/affinity-diagram/

thank you

Thank you for reading!

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