International ethnographic research

Last month I was lucky to go to the Ladies That UX at AKQA, this month the event was held at Google. The speakers tugged at my heartstrings as I listened to them talk about ethnographic research for Google maps in developing markets.

Google maps, and my heavy dependency on it, should really be illegal.

The best talks from these meetup events are often in the format of case studies – real life examples of work. In their talks of what they learned in international research in Brazil and India, the Google researchers did a great job giving very practical examples on the importance of research in context.

For example, they learned that in India the street names are rarely used by locals, and so directions are made relevant through landmarks instead.

In Brazil they realised that it’s dangerous to have your phone out as you’re traveling, so Googlers were made aware of how people will be viewing maps in that context. 

Google also has a 2G speed wifi network to help their developers test their work mimicking the slow connections of users in developing countries.

Working in this way is how the product was made so useful and relevant, and something I aspire to practice this whenever it’s possible.

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