Ethnographic approaches to Information Design

If it is our serious purpose to understand the thoughts of a people the whole analysis of experience must be based upon their concepts, not ours.
Franz Boas ( Recent anthropology. 1943. In: Science 98:311-314, 334-337)

As an information design consultant, I was always curious how contemporary design methods could be improved or enhanced. With my research of synthetic worlds and my getting-in-touch process with ethnographic methods, I realised that there is a good chance to bring new approaches to information design.

This idea is not new to the research community (in this case to the information architects and HCI-experts). But to my surprise, some essential aspects of ethnography (see e.g. Agar and Spradley) were completely ignored: the researchers own cultural background and the importance of language.


  • To develop design methods that actualy value language as one of their main success factors.
  • To use such design methods for own information architecture & design projects where it is crucial to meet budget and time restrictions.


  • Ethnographic design : the next step will be to formulate a (theoretic) design approach. Let's call it 'ethnographic design' of information systems.
  • Case study : I will follow with a case study that will prove or not the practicability of this ethnographic approach.

Ethnographic Design Domains:

  • Information system architecture
  • Design process
  • Ethnographic data collection & analysis

External links:

  • will be added soon...

Research topics: