"10 Techniques for Observation"
In Jane Fulton Suri's book "Thoughtless Acts? Observations on Intuitive Design" she offers approaches to developing a practice of observation that can contribute to your design process. Jane is IDEO's chief creative director. I thought that some of these approaches were very inspiring, and so I share them with you:
1) Seek inspiration from everyday interactions. Look for ad hoc ways we behave in real life. Examples: warming hands on a mug of coffee, using a dish towel to protect the keyboard.
2) Disrupt the normal flow. Develop a discipline of witnessing ordinary things by going out in the world. Examples: using the mouth to hold things, hooking an umbrella on an arm.
3) Document behavior and focus on action. Use a camera and notebook to observe a variety of related situations in natural settings.
4) Seek out extreme situations. Pursue experiences beyond what you know or live in every day in order to see anew.
5) Invite curiosity. Ask "naive" questions that reach beyond automatic assumptions. Examples: How "thoughtless" is this behavior? What motivates this?
6) Reveal what is intuitive. Be conscious of subconscious, spontaneous reactions. Examples: pulling a door to open it instead of pushing it, walking in step with others.
7) Uncover the emotional experience. Connect to feelings to determine responses we intend to elicit through design or communication. Examples: the ways people stand in lines or create personal space on park benches.
8) Tune into cultural patterns. Find meaning and themes in various situations. Examples: the ways people conform in an elevator, convey messages or dispose of litter.
9) Tap resources. Inform the experience with input from clients, experts and the experienced.
10) Seek flexible and enduring solutions. Not everything requires a makeover. Sometimes simple is best.
-Jane Fulton Suri