Rethinking Field Studies for Design : An Argument for Using Longer Field Studies within Design
Abstract: This case study aims at showing how longer field studies can influence the design process. The design case is a redesign of the GUI of software for cell phone network simulation. The study explores the potential of a long field study, presenting it in a way that makes it possible for the reader to follow every step of the process and thus evaluate the merits of this long fieldstudy, and of longer field studies, in general. Data for the study was collected and an initial analysis performed during a four weeks field study. Participant observation was the primary method, but other methods were also used. After the field study was completed, further analysis led to the formation of a design rationale, sorted according to three identified usage groups and one general category. This study argues that a long field study, with design measurements, informs the design significantly. Week one was needed for creating the necessary rapport with the users/informants, while new information decreased during week four. This confirms the argument of earlier studies that the time span of field studies for focused design cases may be shorter than for more wide-aiming social research. However, one main finding is that the most significant data for the design rationale was unevenly collected, mainly in weeks two and three. Thus, the study argues that design cases may benefit from longer fieldstudies than is the standard within the design community of today.
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