On Tuesday I attended the PhD defense thesis of Froukje Sleeswijk Visser on “Bringing the everyday life of people into design”. I succeed to follow the presentation with my poor dutch, and I really enjoyed the defense (this in english 😉 ).
Froukje’s thesis was the first phd on contextmapping , a very popular method in my school (credits to Froukje) for conducting contextual research and empathize with the user when you design a product/service. Contextmapping is a participatory technique that involves the stakeholders and the users during design and communicates the rich knowledge gained to the design team. However this communication is not just a signal from A->B…it involves a lot of noises, trivial things that users do daily, and that are passed on to the design team for inspiration and creativity.
Designers (and not only) like to hear stories, empathize with the people and then design for/with them…I apply this techique for my thesis as well, and I can say that it really works as you get to know the people and shape stories in your head. It’s a very nice technique, however you have to master it and aknowledge also the time it consumes for conducting it, for the bits of information/inspiration you get. Hence, I would definetely recommend it to get rich information, but maybe not for your graduation project if you haven’t mastered it 😛
p.s you can download or order a hard copy of Froukje’s thesis at her website