Field Studies are great learning opportunities to capture personal details about people and their environments. This activity provides challenges though, like when you find yourself in an uncomfortable position due to an offhand comment or if you notice something about their environment that is a danger. Over the course of my career, I’ve had the opportunity to conduct field studies where sensitive information was the focus and odd, or unexpected, situations came up. Based on my experiences, I’ve put together lessons learned that can help practitioners prepare for performing fields studies, and also provide warning signs for when things start to go awry.
These lessons will be given as parables to interviews I’ve conducted with people around dinner tables around the country. These stories range from the humorous to the slightly disturbing. And each has a unique message to tell that will help designers, new and old, prepare for field studies of their own.