My first exploratory, user-research was done by using diaries as sensitizing material for the participants. The diaries had the title “mijn huis, mijn energie en ik” (my house, my energie and I) and were aiming more to get some inspiration about the participants and engage them into a dialogue, and less on getting concrete info. For this reason, the diaries were designed in a playful way, in which they would invite participants to fill them up and have some fun. Participants had everyday a different exercise and were asked to draw their neighborhood, listen to the energy of their house, associate domestic appliances with animal stickets etc.
The results were quite positive, as I got to know my participants, had chitchats on energy consumption and more issues, and created a relationship with them, which I hope will help me to engage them in a longer process. Of course, drawing and putting stickers is not for everyone; some people were more afraid than others to do so, some preferred just to write than draw and some just didn’t put any effort. There is still a follow up session to be done, where people will elaborate more on their booklets and share ideas in a group… What I didn’t expect is how much time and energy the diaries would require. It’s not only about making the diaries, but it’s also about collecting them :S , co-ordinating people, sending emails etc. etc.
But as a conclusion, I can say that the diaries helped me a lot as a first approach to the participants 😉