I started my work on the 3rd assignment by reading through the lecture notes, the ethnography primer and IDEO Bootcamp Bootleg. When reading I was making notes, and writing down the thoughts pertinent to the homework, about how to prepare for and conduct interviews by encouraging stories, as well as gather data for my research: observe success stories, do ethnographic observations, experience what my user experiences, and trying to discover meaning behind all of that.

I wrote down the technique of observation concentrating on what a person is doing, how and made a guess why. I used it later on in my observations at stores that sell holidays decorations, because it is the-sub theme I work on for this homework. I also laid out the names of the stores that I might be interested in visiting and made a tiny mind map to help me sort out my thoughts about the topic. Then I wrote down into the design notebook the questions I might ask different types of users: a shop assistant, professional decorator and amateur decorator, focusing on can you walk me through...?, how do you feel about...? and why? questions.



The first person I interviewed was Carol, a professional decorator for 15 years. She told me in great details how she made decorations for winter wedding, halloween and Christmas using natural and vintage themes. She likes to use organic elements in her designs, because it's unique, you cannot always find it in stores, and there are so many themes out there in nature, it is inexpensive and sustainable. Below are my notes from the interview:
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The second person I interviewed was a shop assistant at the Christmas store at downtown Macy's store. It was her first day at the Christmas store and she couldn't tell much about decorations from the prospective of a person working at that store, though she told me an interesting story of her life. She is jewish and her husband was a christian, and the first thing they bought after getting married was a Christmas tree. She always wanted to celebrate Christmas, but they didn't celebrate it in her family. She mentioned that she still keeps several items from her first Christmas tree (which she bought about 40 years ago), and I guess it is something that reminds her of her husband who passed away a year ago. She also mentioned several issues with holiday decorations like fragility, and small size for some of them that you should be aware of if you have little kids.
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The third person I interviewed was a shopping assistant from Michaels store. From her I learned that the store gets decorations 6-8 weeks before the holiday, as people always decorate their homes prior holidays and most parties happen happen before holidays. Most of the items they have are pretty much the same as were last years, and each year there is a smaller collection of new items. She told me that she already decorated her apartments, because she will be busy at work at the end of the year. Two of the three people I interviewed mentioned that they don't do a lot of decorations because they live in small apartments. She likes about decorating for Christmas that she uses this time as a getaway from every day routine. I was recording our conversation, so I don't have any notes.

Here are several pictures I made during my research at Macy's Christmas store and Michaels:


And this are the observations I did of the people shopping for Christmas decorations, paying attention at who is shopping for holidays decorations, how they are doing it, and guessing why they are doing so:

The last part of this assignment was to engage in activities related to holidays decorations. I decided to decorate windows in my apartments with mini-lights, which I personally like and also had at my disposal. It took me some time to attach lights to the walls around windows using tape, but the result turned out very well. The only thing I didn't like is the green cord that goes from the lights to the circuit below the window, and the fact that tomorrow morning I can find all the construction on the floor, because tape is not the most reliable thing to use for this.

I found several opportunities from the interviews, observations of people shopping for holidays decorations and by engaging in decorations myself. Hera are the two opportunities that I like most:

  • An old lady needs a way to keep her memories of holidays she spent with her husband, because these are one of the dearest memories of all.

  • A lady needs a way to store her holidays decorations, because the holiday decorations take up too much space in her closet.


I enjoyed reading your blog, it seems like you did some fairly extensive research!
Here's something that I think might help when you begin the creativity/brainstorming process: if you make personas for each of the people you interviewed, it might be easier to come up with ideas for them. By that I mean that you should boil them down to their essential descriptors and imagine them as a category of people rather than just one person.
For example - for the woman who was Jewish and bought a Christmas tree with her husband. You could give the persona a name (maybe something like Carol, Susan, etc..) and say:
Carol - a woman with multiple religious backgrounds. She recently lost her husband. She wants holiday decorations that help her to reminisce about her late husband. She worries about the safety of decorations around children.

You could give those descriptions to the people in your brainstorming session to help them ideate in the right direction.

Additionally, you might want to be more specific about who the person is in your problem description. Instead of "A lady.." maybe it's "An interior designer with 15 years experience..."

Nice job and good luck brainstorming!

Starting off, I must learn your technique for photographing your note book! Your notebook laid so flat, it made the photos look very nice even though there was some space around the notebook.

Now for the critical bits:

I would've liked to see some bullet points or key points of interest taken from each interview; I think this would have helped the reader digest the information more quickly.

However, your overall note taking choice to use the What, How, Why format was very smart and looks like it kept your information very well organized. As the reader, it would've been nice to have better access to this information, whether than meant you typed up your notes or summarized them below the photo.

I think you've got a great start with your research and I think you've got a great opportunity to come up with some interesting designs!


Like Josh said, I too am obsessed with the way that the photographs of your notebook turned out. I very much enjoy the fact that the surface that the notebook is placed on isn't cropped out of the image.
You did a great job explaining the process and summarizing your good that I wanted to go back and see what kind of questions you were asking and the ways that you were facilitating the conversations. The only negative thing about your notebook is that I couldn't really read the text from the image; the cursive isn't the issue, but the fact that some of the images are a little fuzzy or the text is too small. This made it difficult to go back and try to read more of your documentation.

Now for your findings. I am actually much more intrigued in the story the elderly woman told about her first Christmas and believe there is a lot more to go from. I never really thought about the process of introducing new traditions or holidays that might not fit your cultural or religious beliefs. I personally have very little experience with the opposite of the elderly woman; I don't believe I've ever really participated in Hanukkah. I think the depth of my participation is about as deep as watching the Hanukkah episode of Rugrats

sorry to ring that old bell, but i liked the sketchbook snapshot. not scanned, but not a hand shadow in sight.

i like your summaries and stories for each of your interviewees. i wish i could read the interviews in a clearer and typed fashion. as for your exploration i like the photos but i wish i saw a different visual design in where you develop your store exploration more, or at least for us viewers to show more of your physical exploration. but it is a good choice of a store for your interviewees.

Your addressed problem is very specific, which is good for your problem development and creating your character you want to help.

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This page contains a single entry by Masha published on November 10, 2013 4:36 PM.

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