Invention and user-centric design
Will people want your invention? These methods predict success, and point the way to improvement.
Of course people will beat a path to your door if you invent a better mousetrap. A little inspiration, and you’re halfway there.
“Inspiration is wonderful when it happens,” composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein once said, “but the writer must develop an approach for the rest of the time. The wait is simply too long.”
The same holds true for researchers in hotbeds of innovation like Silicon Valley, upstate New York and the French Alps. Inspiration happens a lot – but it’s not always spot-on, nor does it always happen when you need it most. Ethnography is the researcher’s approach for “the rest of time.” That’s why Xerox uses ethnographers in our research labs. Their job is to understand how people do their work and live their lives, then translate these insights into new and innovative products.
This interview series explains the concept of “user-centric design.” Meet four Xerox ethnographers who study our everyday lives and tease out inspiration for a new generation of products and services.
She gives users a voice in designing the products they use.
Jennifer Englert is a senior cognitive engineer at PARC, a Xerox company, in Webster, New York. Jennifer tells us that surveys and focus groups take you only so far.
In this interview, Jennifer describes how ethnographers engage their subjects in activities, such as by constructing “prototypes” of a product from paper. As their models progress, researchers end up asking the types of questions that wouldn’t have occurred to them before. Her anecdotes describe how these kinds of exercises uncover the needs and requirements that people have, but wouldn’t surface in a conventional interview.