Reading Reflection 6

Paay, J. (2008). From ethnography to interface design.

I didn’t know much about ethnography before reading this article, but I thought it gave a great background on it and the relation to HCI. Obviously, I didn’t know that a gap existed between ethnography and interface design either, but the paper seemed to propose such a simplistic solution that I wonder if it is actually effective. Turning towards ethnography for a contextual understanding of technology seems like a smart move for a designer, since it enriches a user’s experience and provides answers to a design. It makes me wonder why such a gap still exists between the two, although I can understand how the translation could prove difficult. I guess it shows that moving from Research to Planning isn’t always easy.

I also thought this article gave an informative instruction on their design process.

Eysenbach, G., & Köhler, C. (2002). How do consumers search for and appraise health information on the world wide web? Qualitative study using focus groups, usability tests, and in-depth interviews.

This article reminded me about the one on information scent, partially because of the task searching and the medical information topic. What I most liked about this reading was the quotes from the focus groups and interviews about credibility. The participants mentioned several key items to consider when designing. It also shows that users will likely not continue on a site if it lacks perceived credibility.

Millen, D. (2000). Rapid ethnography: Time deepening strategies for HCI field research.

This paper posed many standing problems with ethnographic methods for HCI. While it may be a powerful way of obtaining research on your audience, I can understand how time does not always allow for such an extensive analysis. Rapid ethnography seems to provide an alternative to time-sensitive projects by “narrowing the focus of the field research”, using “multiple interactive observation techniques”, and using “collaborative and computerized iterative data analyze methods”. However, it does seem that many sources are recommended for it to succeed, such as field guides, corporate informants, various software, etc.

Cooper. (2007). About face 3.

Cooper’s Chapter 4 covers ways to conduct qualitative research, including ethnographic interviews. He suggests speaking with stakeholders and subject matter experts to identify candidates for interviews before actually conducting them. This way, the designer basically sets up a persona hypothesis and has a basic idea of the different behavior patters that will appear when researching. Cooper also touches briefly on other types of research such as focus groups, usability testing, card sorting, and task analysis – many of which we spoke of in class last week.


One thought on “Reading Reflection 6

  1. I think a couple of things can explain the gap between ethnography and HCI:

    – ethnography is a very foreign concept in computer science. It’s really “hard core” humanities research
    – ethnography sounds easy, but it is actually very difficult and time consuming. Gaining access to a site, knowing how and what to observe, and then figuring out how to interpret all the data, are not straightforward at all, especially for minds that have been trained to think in quantitative terms.

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