Hi again readers,
While probing the topic of Research Into Design, an area largely foreign for me, I began to explore the topic of ethnography.
“Ethnography is a philosophical approach to human knowledge that says it’s best to understand people based on their own categories of thought, behavior, and actions. It is often used when intimate knowledge about people is needed to define a new way of thinking about a design problem and its potential solutions.” -Dori Tunstall, Ph.D
Ethnography is a large division of anthropology, the study of people. Ethnography is important to design, in particular, because the people make up the basis for practicing design. Graphic design’s primary purpose is to utilize different medias and mediums to attract an audience. What is the audience made of? People. How better to design for people than to get a better understanding of them? Unfortunately, many design mishaps and failures are due to a lack of understanding of the target audience, which is one reason it is important for designers to adopt ethnographic research practices.
Ethnography spans far beyond collecting surveys and basic google searches, but really delves into people. “Ethnography can help you discover new opportunities or better define for a specific group of people.” (Tunstall) Because no two individuals are completely identical and there are so many ways that people differ, it is next to impossible to develop a singular design practice that perfectly reaches all. However, ethnography sure narrows the quest.
Thanks for reading! I hope you found this interesting, and will conduct some independent investigations into ethnography on your own.
“A Designer’s Research Manual: Succeed in Design by Knowing Your Clients and What They Really Need” by Jennifer and Kenneth Visocky O’Grady