in Design

Need Finding

Participant Observation

“Deep hanging out.”

Sit with people while they perform a task. Observe difficulties, experience, and intuitive behaviors.

  1. What do people do now? (baseline)
  2. What values and goals do people have?
  3. How are particular activities embedded within the larger activity/context? (ecology)
  4. What are similarities and differences between people?


Learn by hanging around experts.


Pay attention to how people ‘hack’ their environment. These are good clues about usability bugs, and ideas for improvement. Users are not dumb. Design technology to be familiar, simple, intuitive, self-documenting, etc..


Pay more attention to what users do, less to what they say.


Be careful how you construct surveys and questions.

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