What’s in Their Mind?

Get Inspired by Users


Bill Gaver, a professor of design and Interaction Research Studio leader at Goldsmiths, University of London, along with Tony Dunne, Head of the Design Interactions program at the Royal College of Art, London, and Elena Pacenti, Director of the Department of Service Design at Domus Academy, Milan, Italy, worked on a project for European Union-funded research to increase the presence of elderly in their local communities. The technique they used to get to know their audiences, is very interesting. The technique that called Cultural Probes is packages consist of postcards, maps, camera, photo album and media diary.

Cultural probes is a way to gather inspirations in a design process. Cultural Probes used in early stage of design. To gain understanding and empathy. Gathering data about what people think and feel. It helps designers understand the culture, values and thought of the community unfamiliar with the designers. Cultural probes can be a small packages of things, tools, or artifacts such as postcards, camera, maps or notebook with interesting, or you can say provocative tasks. With the gadgets, the selected community interact and create what’s going to be designers inspirations on their related work.

The outcome of this approach will be valued as inspiration, not information because it’s more about users impressions of what they believe and desire, than what they need. The outcome wouldn’t set the directions for the designers work.

Gaver, Dunne and Pacenti believe their research method was successful to make them more familiar with their subjects. The research method has provided them with various outcome that inspire them in their design and has given them details of the local culture. The design would be more user-centered. With this method, the design will be focused specifically for the exact people, exact culture and exact community and environment.

Very interesting method indeed. Looking forward to be able to use it on my next projects.

This is an example of project using cultural probes.



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