Design Tools and an Introduction into Ethnography

Before Heading to the zoo tomorrow I’ve been looking at some Service Design tools here. Although I’m not studying service design, the tools that they list are transferable into other design mediums and will hopefully help me out when trying to record and present my information on our ethnographic study of the zoo patrons.

I’m going to list the tools that appeal to me and write a little comment beside them that tells me what they are and how to use them. This blog is mostly a tool for me to come back to and find a tool I wanna use but I hope you might find it useful too (if you’re not understanding what the tool is from my description, then click on the link name and it will direct you to some examples of the tool in use).


 Offering Map

describes in a synthetic way (ie. a graph, an illustration, etc.) what the design offers to it’s users/the people you are designing it for. A good tool for justifying the creation of design, going beyond aesthetic purposes.


 Service Image

a unique picture (an edited photograph, a drawing/illustration, etc.) that gives an immediate idea of the main features of the design (somebody interacting with it, pictured in it’s environment, etc.). This tool would be really useful if you were trying to show how and why your design is used. One of the example images that they used summed up the ideas of this tool for me:



simulation of a future promotional advertisement of the design, ie. a billboard or an advert in a magazine. This would be a good way of presenting your idea in a professional way.


 Tomorrow Headlines

similar to the idea of the poster. Fictional articles allowing designers to project themselves and their designs into the future, where the design has been let out into the world, to understand what impact the design has had on society/the people it was designed for. Good tool to use in figuring out all the key aspects to a design and fine-tuning the final design.


 System Map

a visual description of the design and how it interacts with all the players it is designed for. A good tool if your design is for more than one type of client or if there is a process to it’s design (ie. it has a few applications or it goes through a few stages before all the benefits are had). Because I use flickr, I found this example of this tool in action quite useful in understanding how to use this tool:



A visual composition of pictures and materials that propose an atmosphere by giving a perception of it. I’ve used moodboards before and I understand how the work but their description was useful in summing it up for me. Here is an example of one of my moodboard that was quickly mocked up during a workshop on branding; this moodboard is the brand of Chloe Henderson:



This idea is most likely familiar to most people, due to it’s obvious roots in film making. A narrative/storytelling representation of the design process or the final design in action.


 Customer Journey Map

a visual graph that describes the journey of a user of the design by representing the different touchpoints (the various applications of the design, or the stages that the design goes through as a product) that characterize his/her interaction with the design.


 Context Panorama

visualization of an initial design idea. Each basic idea is identified by a simple image which is presented together with keywords as a type of starting off mood board. I found this example (titled “Hippie Camp”) the used summed up the ideas of the tool:


 Mind Map

we all know what a mind map is!!! Here is an example of one of mine (for The Tipping Point):


There are loads more tools at Service Design Tools – I only listed the ones I think I will use/the ones I understood.

I hope you found these design tools as useful as I did :)



An Introduction into Ethnography

Dictionary definition of Ethnography:


/ɛθˈnɒgrəfi/ Show Spelled[eth-nog-ruh-fee]


a branch of anthropology dealing with the scientific description of individual cultures.
My basic understanding of ethnography is that it is a study if human nature looking into detailed descriptions of everyday life and practices, and the theories of individual and cultural similarities and separations in response to the observations of our everyday lives.
But why, as a designer, as an artist, do I need to know about ethnography?

The most useful source of information, for me, in discovering what ethnography is all about is The Ethnography Primer <— click there and read/download the pdf file. It breaks down the main ideas and explains how you could be an ethnographer in simple terms.

This is the introduction. Reading this is when I understood my role as an artist/designer in the study of ethnography.

“Ethnography is a tool for better design.

Great design always connects with people.

Designers inspire, provoke, validate, entertain and provide utility for people. To truly connect, designers need to have compassion and empathy for their audiences. Designers need to understand the relationship between what they produce and the meaning their product has for others.

Enter ethnography.

Ethnography informs design by revealing a deep understanding of people and how they make sense of their world.

Ethnography is a research method based on observing people in their natural environment rather than in a formal research setting. When ethnography is applied to design, it helps designers create more compelling solutions.”

If I can gain a better understanding of humanity, ie. the people I am creating art for and designing my designs for (of course I am doing all this for myself, I tend to work for my own gratification but I do, in the end, have an ego and like it when it is stroked and I like doing things for other people so it is good to understand aspects of humanity). If anything it will give me a better understanding of not only the world but myself.

I also found the “Steps into ethnographic research” on pages 22-29 really useful in providing some key steps into what I was looking for and what I needed to get out of my observations at the zoo/other settings where I could use ethnography skills.


Chloe out.


Following on from this post is Edinburgh Zoo – An ethnographic study (part 1)

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