Ethnography is a type of research that allows for understanding of how products are used in daily life, or in a natural setting. It may also help get at the underlying reasons why the product is used in the way it is. While many research modes have limitations in determining the product and user interaction, ethnographic research allows for a closer look into this relationship.
Benefits of ethnographic research
1. Data collection usually takes place in a natural atmosphere. This allows for the research to take into consideration environmental cues. Typically this is conducted in the participant’s home, although shop-alongs or in-office research can also be possible venues.
2. The observational aspect of ethnography is also very valuable. The whole idea behind ethnographic research is observation. You want to observe the participants in their “natural habitat.” When ethnography is conducted, we observe without interfering, but will ask questions to help further explain what we have or have not observed.
3. The most appreciated advantage is the scientific look into the individual environmental and societal cues around the user thus bringing a broader understanding of the entire usage context. Being able to observe not only environmental but social influences is important.