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We can bring this 2-day course to you and run it for a fixed all-inclusive fee. All you have to do is provide the delegates and the meeting room.

Overview: Design ethnography: Take control of customer visits and interviews

Field studies are invaluable when you need to understand first-hand how users work or behave, the kinds of tasks users carry out and the variety of environments in which users operate. Real-world observation provides insights that user self reports or surveys can't provide often because users can't explain what they are doing or because their behaviour is so practised that users can't articulate how they work.

But carrying out a field study has a number of difficulties. How do you select the right users? When should you observe and when should you ask questions? How do you collect observational data and how do you analyse it to improve your design?

"Excellent. Best user research training I've ever attended."
– Anne-Marie Grafton, Home Office.

Printable pdf course description for this seminar

Suggested business case to convince your boss (MS Word format).

About your trainer

David Travis

This seminar is led by Dr. David Travis, the author of Think Like a UX Researcher. David has more than 20 years experience in the field of user centred design and has delivered over 100 seminars in user experience for a range of private and public sector organisations.

David Travis This seminar is led by Dr. David Travis (@userfocus), the author of Think Like a UX Researcher. David has delivered over 100 seminars in user experience for a range of private and public sector organisations.

This seminar is aimed at

This course is for you if you are part of a design team that wants to develop a new service, software application or product or that wants to identify new features for an existing application. This is a hands-on course and is most effective for delegates who have day-to-day responsibility for product design.

You will learn how to

  • Understand the fundamentals of field research.
  • Understand the difference between opinion-based and behavior-based research methods.
  • Describe the kinds of data you should collect during a field visit.
  • Describe the user groups for your service.
  • Identify the specific user type you will visit first.
  • Build a research plan to take back to your workplace and execute.
  • Recognise good and poor questions to ask in user interviews.
  • Practice field study interviewing.
  • Analyse and interpret qualitative data.

Seminar content

Introduction: Why carry out ethnographic research?

  • Why you need to discover (not just validate) user needs.
  • The first (and second) rule of finding out what people want.
  • Differences between ethnographic research and usability testing.
  • The 6 phases of field research.

What is 'design ethnography'?

  • The roots of ethnography.
  • The similarities and differences between traditional ethnography and design ethnography.

Set the research focus

  • Understanding the vision.
  • Identifying sources of existing research and judging its quality.
  • Syndicate activity: Create a sketch persona to identify assumptions.

Decide who to visit

  • How many people do you need?
  • Briefing the recruitment agency.

Schedule the visits

  • What to tell participants before you arrive.
  • Plan how you will get the team involved.

Carry out the field visits

  • Obtaining informed consent.
  • The Zen of user interviewing.
  • Syndicate activity: Create a topic map to steer the interview.
  • The role of investigator and note taker.
  • What is an observation?
  • Syndicate activity: Practice eliciting a story.

Analyse the data

  • Introduction to affinity sorting.
  • Syndicate activity: Create a user story map.

Generate design ideas

  • Creating a storyboard.
  • Questions to ask about an MVP.

Summary and Wrap-Up

  • Brief review of the key topics.
  • Final opportunity for questions.
  • Suggestions for homework.

What delegates say about this seminar

  • "An excellent course, thoroughly enjoyable. The data analysing method was particularly interesting." – Philip Merrifield, ITW Finishing.
  • "I was afraid that since I'm not really familiar with the concept, I might not understand too many things. But I realised that I can even do user personas, even though I thought I am not able to do that." – Laura Carabus, Avira Operations GmbH.
  • "I think it's a great course. Really well tailored to working in Government. Trainer evidently very experienced and knowledgeable. Would recommend to all junior researchers."
  • "Having a proper process for planning and implementing a field study (rather than an ad hoc turn-up-and-ask-questions approach) means I can present a more professional image."
  • "I learnt the importance of observation and good questioning — and accurately recording what is said and done."
  • "I now feel confident preparing for a site visit and asking the right kinds of questions."

What do I get when I book this course?

  • 2 day training course with a usability expert.
  • Practical checklists, worksheets and extensive notes to take home.
  • A proper, air-conditioned learning environment.
  • Lunch and refreshments throughout both days.

More details on what you get.


This course lasts two days.

How do I book?

We schedule this course based on demand. If you want to attend a public course, click on the button below. Once we get 8 like-minded individuals we'll schedule a course and let you know.

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What should I do next?

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