Ethnographic Research

There is no better way to understand the behavior, attitudes, and motivations of your target users than to talk to them directly. Quantitative research is a great way to understand “what” is happening, but interviews can help with understanding “why” and “how.”

Serving suggestion

  • Minimum 5 participants
  • 30-60 min per participant
  • Remote or in-person

Pairs well with

  • Observations
  • Card Sort
  • Diary Study/Cultural Probe


Understand business goals, drivers, & competition

Understand user behaviors, attitudes & needs

View recipes

Look Out

How to do it:

  • Decide on research goals and questions.
  • Prepare a discussion guide based on research goals.
  • Recruit, schedule, and incentivize participants.
  • Conduct one-on-one interviews.
  • Video/audio record and take notes for future analysis.
  • Summarize findings.

Additional resources

An Ethnography Primer – The Added Value Group

In collaboration with AIGA, the professional association for design, Cheskin Added Value produced a simple and straight-forward primer introducing the crucial role that ethnography plays in product design and innovation.

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Making the Most of Ethnographic Research – UX Magazine

When employed to its full potential, field research done in unique user environments can uncover opportunities to innovate customer experience.

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How to Unlock the Power of User Research – Steve Portigal 

By now we all know that storytelling is one of the most powerful tools in the service design toolbox. But can we also use storytelling to actually improve our own practice? Steve Portigal thinks so and he explains why in this episode.

Watch the Video

User Research. Empathy Is the Best UX Policy – UX Planet

UX Planet dives deeper into the definition, methods, techniques and benefits in the process of creating a digital product with user research.

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27 Tips and Tricks for Conducting Successful User Research in the Field – Nielsen Norman Group

Leave your office, already, and go where the users are. There are some common pitfalls, but they can be avoided if you learn from our experience.

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