METHODS: contextual inquiry, item invenory, card sorting, screener survey, field observation, video and photography, insights coding, illustration
TOOLS: field discussion guide, audio and video recording equipment, Illustrator and InDesign,
This project was completed for a course in user research and design methods taught through the Institute of Design by user researchers at Gravity Tank. For my project, I used a combination of ethnographic design methods to gain insight into the lives of extreme commuters--those who commute 90+ minutes to or from work. From prelimary online research and informal interviews with friends and family, I learned that people with long commutes often do lots of work in their cars. I decided to focus my research on the things people keep and use in their cars and how people interact with these things while driving.
Using online ads and a screener survey I designed, I recruited four extreme commuters to participate in my study.
Contextual inquiry was used to learn about everyday commuting routines, workarounds, and the needs and desires of users. Item inventories and card sorting activities were used to understand the ecology of artifacts used in the car and how people think about groups of items. Each session was documented with video and photography. I led each session while my classmates helped with documentation. (I helped document for their projects, as well).
Each session was transcribed using Excel and coded according to emergent themes.
Through this analysis, I found that participants were trying to use cars like desks and that interactions and activities tended to fall into one of three categories, namely working, holding, and storing. I used these categories and the desk metaphor as a framework for presenting my insights. Along with the presentation, I created various materials for brainstorming. These materials included an insights framework, maps depicting common commuting activities, and a set of story cards illustrating key examples of workarounds and other problems I discovered during my research.