Adaptive and Flexible Methods

Qualitative research methods are widely varied. Combining them effectively to make the most of field data comes from years of experience. Our research approach is strategic, first and foremost, so that our data analysis results in actionable insights. The methods listed below are the means we use to seed those insights.


We can’t help ourselves, we see the world through an anthropological lens. This permeates our work from planning to deliverables. We go beyond simple observations and visual documentation to offer the insights and solutions that only careful analysis can provide.

Ethnographic Interviews

Engaging participants in dialog based on a pre-determined set of discussion topics (often conducted in context of home or workplace).

Participant Observation

Participating in the daily routines and experiences of research participants, with an emphasis on both empathy for participants and maintaining an anthropological perspective.


Observing participants as they go through series of common events, processes or tasks, prompting them to think aloud along the way.

Visual Ethnography

Recording interactions and communications with research participants for subsequent review, analysis, and representation.

Photo/Video Journaling

Participants take a series of photos or video clips in response to a set of specifically designed research questions.


Working with participants to draw or visually represent their mental model of a place, space, or experience.

Focus Groups

Facilitating a guided discussion between participants focused on a topic, product or problem.

Analogous Observations

Using ethnographic research methods to understand the values, behaviors and priorities of people whose experiences run parallel to the target research population. Research participants are selected based on their expertise in an area that might lend insight into the challenge at hand (i.e., talking to a farmer for insights about resource management, a concierge to understand personally tailored services, etc.).


Evaluating the design of a user interface, product or service for its ease of use, exploratory learning or problem solving. May include range of methods, including focus groups, user testing, and condensed contextual inquiries (which integrate users as partners with the research team by engaging them in a dialogue as they perform in-context activities with interface/product/service).