Day#276: TED talk on Ethnography

Day#276: TED talk on Ethnography

Hey Uxers I have recently been neglecting my informative content on Youtube, as I said in an earlier post I set out some reading goals for myself for 2019 and have been working on achieving those most recently. You can check out my post on my UX reading list for 2019 here

In relation to the title of this post though I recently watched an interesting Ted Talk by Ellen Isaacs, Ellen did a talk on Ethnography and I found it so interesting how she referred to computer interfaces. I am so fascinated by how computer interfaces have evolved over time, when I was younger I worked in admin and we had to work on such a basic system that really killed me slowly, now internal systems are generally a lot more advanced. Ellen speaks about how simply moving files would mean you would have to type in some copy and understand what to type in etc, where is now a visual cue like dragging a skeuomorphic visual of a folder has become common practice. Furthermore Ellen then mentions Lucy Suchman and Austin Henderson who conducted the first ethnographic research on a copier at the offices. They recorded Users trying to use the machine, you can check out the recording of the participants trying to figure out the copier here. The interesting part is the two men who were in the video testing the product were very well known software developers of the era and received many awards in their industry etc and even they could not figure it out.

Now I’m sure copiers and printers have probably come a long way, but I must say from my personal experience I never know how to use these office copiers. I either send the wrong document or I will probably be that person who one day shreds their document by mistake not having any clue what I am doing haha. Anyway if you want to know more about ethnographic research you can check out my introduction to ethnography in this post here.

The research was so crucial but what was is so amazing and admirable is that there was no set best practice or templates on this at that time, Lucy Suchman and Austin Henderson simply decided to give the product a test drive by some employees. I do like that they decided to watch and not intervene as much because that would have changed the results. In theory though a lot of Ethnography and best practice User Research methods come from Scientific and psychological studies so I suppose those best practices would have been followed for an activity like this. Check out the video below and see how Ellen also talks about the interesting car parking project that she ran with colleagues. Here she presents rather humorous images of parking signs, funny enough from watching Vlogs etc I have got the impression that parking signs in certain parts of America are confusing and Ellen brings up vital solutions of how not only indicating the negative but also indicating what Users CAN do is so important.

Happy researching until next time Uxers

Bye for now

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