Technology Tour

A Technology Tour is an ethnographic study wherein a user gives a researcher a guided tour of the access devices – iPads, smartphones, PCs, game consoles, etc. – in their home, office, school or other location of web or app use. This provides real-world context for the use of a product in the early stages of development and allows teams to take likely screen sizes and usage conditions into account from the beginning.

Description

Schedule Time & Gather Materials

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Schedule Time:

  • Per Tour: 30 Minutes or More
  • Number of Tours: ~ 5
  • Analysis Time per Participant: ~ 2 Hours
Gather Materials

Gather Materials:

Required
Sketchbook and/or Notebook

Optional
Camera

Carry Out This Method

Step One

Determine where you will be conducting tours based on the intended use of your product – in homes, offices, schools, etc.

Step Two

Recruit participants from within your target demographic, but try to control for irrelevant variables by recruiting a variety of people. Participation must be voluntary and prospective test users must be informed regarding the intrusive nature of the Technology Tour.

Step Three

Write a set of technology-based questions to start each tour. They should be open-ended jumping-off points for discussion, like how your users access the Web most often, when, and for what purpose.

Step Four

When a tour starts, explain the purpose of your visit to your participant. For home tours, assure your participant that they do NOT need to share any area or room that they do not wish to.

Step Five

Ask your set of questions to kick-start the tour.

Step Six

Whenever your tour reaches a “landmark,” ask further questions for more detail, including:

  • When was the device you are showing me last used? What for?
  • Do you ever require help from another person to use this device?
  • What features do you use most frequently?
  • What are common frustrations you have to deal with when using this?

Step Seven

Do sketches of how rooms and work areas are set up. Note the distance between stationary devices and obstacles on the way to them. Take photos if you are allowed.

Step Eight

Take detailed notes of the user’s comments. Engage in active listening to make sure you understand.

Step Nine

At the end of the tour, summarize your findings to the test user to verify them.

Step Ten

At the end of a series of Technology Tours, you should have a good idea of the following:

  • Most common access devices
  • Likely distractions
  • Light levels during use
  • Common pain points when using similar products to yours
  • Interactions and technology they find particularly delightful
  • What makes their day easier or more difficult

Step Eleven

Present your findings to your team. The information will be very broad, so you may need to present it in chunks over a series of meetings. Include any common behavioral correlations in your presentations.

 

Try These Tips

  • Your test user’s opinion on other appliances and tools can give further insight into common user frustrations as well as the context of use.
  • Do not take any photos of a test user’s home without permission.
  • At the end of a tour, if others in the same home or workplace would like to conduct their own tour with you, this can be helpful.

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