Observation is an effective method for gaining insight into people and environments in their natural state. There are many different kinds of observation techniques ranging from natural to controlled to analogous environments, to name a few. In our work, we often begin with the A-E-I-O-U template observing Actions, Environment, Interactions, Objects, and Users.
When selecting a space for your observation, try to think of where you would witness a moment, person, exchange, etc that applies to your research. It is also helpful to include analogous spaces, where you may be able to experience fresh ideas and insights that could crossover to your work.
Observation is about seeing, but requires a way for you to record exactly what is happening as it takes place. We always bring along our template, extra paper, pencil, and camera.
Take your time while observing. It can take hours to days to weeks at times to collect enough data to form any real conclusions. Experiment with the space at different times throughout the course of the day, and different days of the week. You want to be sure that you are taking into account how these sorts of variables effect the feedback.
Note what you are observing, and try not to find what you are looking for.
It’s never a bad thing to have an abundance of notes on what you are observing. It can help you draw connections you would otherwise not have.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCESA-E-I-O-U Template