Deep dive ethnography

Deep dive ethnography is a way of using structured interactions to gain empathic insights about the people you’re designing for, often while sharing their experiences in their own setting. This kind of research connects all levels of an organisation with the people it designs for, providing real-world context for existing knowledge, and grounding ideas, designs, insights and beliefs in evidence drawn straight from people’s lives.

Ethnographic design research: We involve participants in specially designed activities to gain an insider’s view of their experiences with a service or product, often at multiple points. This enables us to build a relationship in which they open up, and help us explore deeply enough to uncover their most fundamental behavioural and motivational drivers. It also helps them understand the topic well enough to identify and focus upon the aspects of their life or behaviour that matter the most. These activities can take many forms, from individual interviews and collaborative workshops to contextual inquiry and auto-ethnography.

Visual design research: We use film and photography to share people’s stories in ways that enable client teams to empathise and gain a deep understanding of their customers’ experiences. Visual design research can take place at any point in the design process to investigate people’s experiences, or their response to design interventions, from ideas and concepts to prototypes and products, services or systems. It also enables us to understand the consequences or potential of futures we might design. Visual design research can include the use of wearable cameras and smartphone apps with which participants can record their experiences from a first-person perspective without disrupting their everyday activities.

Some examples of projects we’ve worked on:

Re-imagining customer journeys with Vodafone

Understanding music streaming for kids

Personas to inform and inspire service innovation

Supporting early-dementia carers

Agile client immersion week

You can also read more about ‘deep dive ethnography’ in our publication Viewfinders