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Ethnographic Studies

Ethnographic study is an attempt to gain a comprehensive understanding, from many perspectives, about how an end user experiences a web site, in his own environment. Traditional usability testing, while providing a laboratory environment that makes data collection and recording easy, also removes user and Web site from context of workplace. Sometimes, it's best to see exactly how things are done in real world.

How We Do Ethnographic Studies?

We begin by arranging for a field visit with users. Choosing a variety of users of your Web site, from different workplaces, industries, and backgrounds. Spend a few hours at the field site with user, collect as much data as possible and analyze it later. While conducting an ethnographic study, we divide the exercise into 3 important steps. They are:


We instruct investigators to establish objectives of the study and their information requirements. It is very important for the Investigators to gain confidence and co-operation of the participants before carrying out the observations.

Running the study

The Investigators run a pilot observation session, to get a feel of what they can expect and also test out observation sheets. This gives them an idea of how long the observation session might take. Investigators note down any incomprehensible events that occur during the study, that they can clarify later with the participants. After the observation study is done with, they write their first impressions, before the analysis begins.


The investigators analyze, summarize and prepare the final report, keeping in mind the objectives set out at the beginning of the study.

Benefits Of Ethnographic Studies

Provides the clients with accurate information on what the end users do in context of the websites. Direct observation will help the investigators to pay attention to specific areas of interest to websites, while indirect observation may draw your attention to things, which you otherwise might have left unnoticed or unrecorded. Notes and studies need to be analyzed by the moderator, which can be time consuming and prevents the task being split up for analysis by a number of people.

When to use Ethnographic Study?

Do you have the information about the characteristics and working conditions of your target users that you need to design effective solutions?
Or, do you want to find out how your web site is used in actual working environments to help drive a future release?
Our expert field researchers provide you with the concise analysis you need, whether you are writing requirements and functional specifications or identifying improvements for future releases.

We conduct on-site interviews, observations, and surveys, getting you the data you need to make informed design decisions, no matter where you are in your development cycle.

Best used in the early stages of development, when you need to know more about the issues surrounding the use of a Web site rather than actual metrics. In the really early stages, when you just have an idea that you might need to satisfy a particular need, field observations help gather user requirements and issues for incorporation into preliminary designs.

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Last modified on 22 September 2004

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