Design Research for Media - A GUIDE FOR PRACTITIONERS

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Design Research for Media - A GUIDE FOR PRACTITIONERS
for Media

                        By:   In Collaboration with:
Design Research for Media - A GUIDE FOR PRACTITIONERS
                                                                                     for Media
AUTHOR:                                           CREATIVE DIRECTOR:
Panthea Lee                                       Jennifer Thibault

EDITORS:                                          DESIGNER:
Kate Petty, Ethan Wilkes                          Mollie Ruskin

PRODUCTION MANAGER:                               ADVISORS:
Patrick Ainslie                                   Zack Brisson, Amanda Noonan
                                                                                     A GUIDE FOR PRACTITIONERS
© 2013 Reboot Design LLC.
The material in this work is subject to copyright. However the authors encourage
the dissemination of knowledge. We invite you to contact us should you seek to
reproduce this work in whole or in part. For all queries on rights and licenses,
we can be reached at
Reboot // 45 East 20th St, 5th Floor, New York, NY USA 10003
+1 212 388 1010 //

With special thanks to Mark Frohardt, Amanda Noonan, and Sam De Silva from
the Internews Center for Innovation and Learning, Oren Murphy from Internews
Asia, and Charmaine Anderson, Arif Khan, Muhammad Ghawas, and the entire
Internews Pakistan Country Office.
The case studies and examples throughout this book are drawn from a design
research investigation commissioned by Internews in Fall 2012. It took place in
the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP)
regions of Pakistan, with fieldwork executed by a dedicated field team. Reboot
is grateful to our researchers Amjad Ali, Qaiser Ali, Sumaira Asghar, Shakir Ullah
Dawar, Arif Khan, Farooq Ali Khan, Jasim Khan, Kamran Khan, and Rizwanullah
Khan—thank you for your hard work, your perseverance, and your commitment
to finding the real answers.
Finally, to all those in FATA and KP who welcomed our team and shared their
                                                                                     By:           In Collaboration with:
lives with us—thank you.
Design Research for Media - A GUIDE FOR PRACTITIONERS

  2   Foreword
  4   About This Guide
 10   Introducing Design Research
 16   PHASE 1: Define
 50   PHASE 2: Plan
 66   PHASE 3: Collect
 88   PHASE 4: Synthesize
110   PHASE 5: Design
122   Looking Ahead
124   About Reboot
125   About ICIL

Design Research for Media - A GUIDE FOR PRACTITIONERS


    In 1980, I was working on the Thai-       relationships with the communities       I was drawn to Internews because          We were most delighted to find in
    Cambodian border in a refugee camp        they are seeking to serve. This is       their work has long embodied a            Reboot an organization that shares
    of over 130,000 displaced individu-       a process that goes well beyond          similar ethos. Program design is          our values. Reboot brings significant
    als. This was my first experience in      simple question and answer surveys.      firmly rooted in the principles of        exper tise in formal, as well as
    the international humanitarian and        This is a process that demands an        strong communications and an              intuitive, human-centered design.
    development space. A number of            ethnographer’s ear and a journalist’s    intimate relationship with the end        This guide was developed to assist
    organizations were present providing      inquisitiveness to uncover the behav-    user. Our evolution into human-           those working within Internews to
    assistance, and all were effective in     ioral insights that drive a community.   centered design, therefore, is only       challenge our embedded assump-
    their own way. But one organization                                                natural. This approach allows us          tions and deepen our relationships
    impressed me in particular for the        I was also fortunate to work with        to further refine our engagement          with the communities we serve. This
    degree of proximity they maintained       Fred Cuny of Intertect, a master of      with local populations and com-           guide is also written for the broader
    with those they were working to           this approach, during the return of      munities to develop solutions fitted      community of practice that hopes to
    serve. The doctors and nurses of          Kurdish refugees to Northern Iraq in     to their daily needs and aspirations.     understand the continuously chang-
    Médecins Sans Frontières would            1991. Although called in to advise       This approach also allows us to move      ing information ecosystems that
    often just sit with their patients and    commanders of the multinational          beyond a program design process           increasingly define and constrain
    local staff, beyond the scope of their    forces responsible for the repatria-     that simply informs our initial           development practice.
    work and questions—beyond the             tion, Fred, as always, first went deep   engagement to one that ensures
    traditional relationship of aid worker    into the camps to develop plans          deep and lasting relationships            We hope you find the ideas and
    and aided.                                based on an ever-evolving under-         throughout the life of a project,         methods of this guide valuable in
                                              standing of the needs and capacity       keeping objectives based on shift         your work and welcome your views
    In the over three decades since that      of local leaders and individuals. Fred   -ing priorities relevant and on target.   and suggestions.
    first encounter, the organizations        was deeply committed to solutions
    and individuals I have seen success-      that included the “end user” in both                                               Mark Frohardt
    fully fulfilling their development mis-   conception and implementation.                                                     Executive Director
    sion are those who have built close                                                                                          Internews Center for
                                                                                                                                 Innovation & Learning

2   Design Research for Media Development                                                                                                                                3
Design Research for Media - A GUIDE FOR PRACTITIONERS
// about this guide

    About This
    This is a hands-on reference guide        This resource is our effort to share      Throughout this guide, several special features will
    for media development practitioners.      our process with our Internews            help you better understand and implement design research:
                                              colleagues and among the broader
    It is based on principles and practices   media development community, in
    of design research that have been         the hopes that it will inspire practice
    long used by the private sector, and      and discussion and have an impact
    grounded in the experience Reboot         far beyond our immediate goals.
    has gathered in designing and
    implementing international develop-       This is not a comprehensive guide
    ment projects around the world.           to program design. As a field, media
                                              development has a rich history of         FATA in Focus use real-life examples      Tools signal a resource to help
    This guide was born out of a col-         innovation, thoughtful leadership,        from an Internews project in the FATA     practitioners implement the design
    laboration between Reboot and             and tried-and-true processess—            region of Pakistan to illustrate          research process. Sample templates
    Internews, through its Center for         many pioneered by Internews.              design research principles in action.     and examples from the Internews
                                                                                        They show how the approach both           Pakistan Case Study, can be found at
    Innovation and Learning, and its          Indeed, many ideas in here will
                                                                                        requires adaptability to context and
    Pakistan Country Office. Together, we     likely be familiar to readers working     offers rich contextual insights.
    sought to understand the complexity       in this systems-oriented field. Thus,
    of the information ecosystem in the       our hope is that this guide will help
    Federally Administered Tribal Areas       practitioner s integrate design
    (FATA) region of Pakistan. Our ulti-      research principles and practices         A companion website for this guide can    We are eager for feedback and
                                                                                        be found at     to hear about your experiences in
    mate goal was to design contex-           naturally into their existing work,
                                                                                        This online platform will be frequently   applying these approaches. Please
    tually appropriate programs that          stretch their creativity, and find new    updated with resources to support         send thoughts to
    improved access to information            solutions.                                practitioners seeking to integrate        and
    by communities in this region.                                                      design research into their work.

4   Design Research for Media Development                                                                                                                                5
Design Research for Media - A GUIDE FOR PRACTITIONERS
// about this guide // Principles in Practice

    Harnessing Design Research in FATA

    This guide features a running case studie to illustrate
    how design research can apply to media development.
    All examples are drawn from an investigation conducted
    in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA)
    region of Pakistan in September 2012.

    About FATA
    Socially, economically, and politically,   Politically, FATA has traditionally     Yet opportunities for change are          But the region remains media dark,
    FATA is the least developed region         been ruled, not governed, by            on the horizon. The upcoming 2013         with variable access to mobile
    in Pakistan. Sixty-six percent of the      unelected tribal leaders. The region    general election will be the first time   networks and Internet and tight
    population lives below the poverty         is strongly conservative and cultur-    that political parties are able to form   restrictions on journalists. Although
    line; 1 its key industries are farm-       ally isolated, constraints that are     and operate in FATA, meaning the          there has been an increase in media
    ing, smuggling, and illegal drugs; 2       heightened by geographic and            first chance for FATA communities         access and channels in recent years,
    unemployment is estimated at 60            security factors. United States mili-   to have their interests represented       little is known about the informa-
    to 80 percent;3 and the literacy rate      tary operations using unmanned          on the national stage. To leverage        tion and media behaviors of FATA
    is 22 percent (and 1.5 percent for         aerial vehicles (drones) have tar-      this moment, independent and              communities.
    females).4                                 geted the region since 2004, in an      good quality information about the
                                               attempt to defeat Taliban and Al-       political process will be vital to its
                                               Qaeda militants. Drone strikes have     residents.
                                               killed up to an estimated 3,400

6   Design Research for Media Development                                                                                                                                7
Design Research for Media - A GUIDE FOR PRACTITIONERS
// about this guide // Principles in Practice
                            HARNESSING DESIGN
                            RESEARCH IN FATA

    Project Background                                                                 Project Approach
    Given the FATA’s communications           the elections? Furthermore, what did     It was determined that design                        Due to the security restrictions,
    landscape and its population’s low        they think about politics in Pakistan?   research—a research and analytical                   Reboot and Internews staff did
    literacy rates, Internews was inter-      And finally, how should informa-         process that combines ethnograph-                    not travel in FATA. Reboot and
    ested in the potential of interactive     tion be presented? What sources of       ic, journalistic, and systems think-                 Internews managed field research
    voice response (IVR) technology to        information were perceived as trust-     ing approaches—could help answer                     from Islamabad, and conducted
    get information about political pro-      worthy, and how did people evaluate      these complex questions, and help                    training and synthesis workshops
    cesses to FATA communities, particu-      the credibility of information?          Internews identify opportunities to                  in Islamabad and Peshawar.
    larly around the upcoming elections.                                               improve the information ecosystem
    But as teams began planning such          Internews realized a more nuanced        for FATA communities.
    an initiative, they realized they need-   understanding of the information                                                              The research findings will be
    ed answers to a few key questions to      and communications landscape in          A design research investigation                      released in early 2013.
    enable strong program design.             the region was necessary to ensure       was conducted over four weeks
                                              programs would be appropriate and        in September 2012. A team of 10
    To start, it was critical to understand   impactful on the national stage. To      researchers from FATA conducted
    what were the technology behaviors        leverage this moment, independent        the fieldwork, with training and man-
    of FATA communities, and whether          and good quality information about       agement from Reboot. The study
    IVR was even a realistic option. And      the political process will be vital to   covered 7 agencies in FATA and
    beyond the choice of communica-           its residents. And, in recent years,     Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and 125
    tions channel, what kind of informa-      there has been an increase in media      respondents were interviewed.
    tion did people want? What did FATA       access and channels within the FATA.
    communities already know about

                                                                                        1 Shuja Nawaz and Arnaud De Borchegrave, FATA - A Most Dangerous Place,
                                                                                          (Washington, D.C.: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2009).
                                                                                        2 Shahid J. Burki, “Economics and Extremism,”, n.d.
                                                                                        3 “FATA: Inside Pakistan’s Tribal Regions,” New America Foundation, n.d.
                                                                                        4 Government of Pakistan, United Nations Children’s Fund, and the World Food Programme, Federally
                                                                                          Administered Tribal Area (FATA) Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (Peshawar: Government of Pakistan, 2009)
                                                                                        5 “The Year of the Drone,” Counterterrorism Strategy Initiative, New America Foundation, 2012.

8   Design Research for Media Development                                                                                                                                                         9
Design Research for Media - A GUIDE FOR PRACTITIONERS

     Introducing                                                                      Key Principles

                                                                                      of Design Research

                                                                                      1. Understand humans and institutions.
                                                                                         The best solutions meet the needs of users, while respecting
                                                                                         their capacities and constraints, and they do so at the

                                                                                         community and institutional levels. Understanding both,
                                                                                         therefore, is key.

                                                                                      2. Discard assumptions.
                                                                                        “Design by ToR (Terms of Reference)” is tough. The best
                                                                                         solutions come from the real world, so learn to recognize
                                                                                         personal biases and assumptions, as well as those of others,
                                                                                         to see the way forward.

                                                                                      3. Remain flexible.
                                                                                         It is impossible to predict the solution (or even the best
                                                                                         path for finding the solution) at the start of a project.
     Good program design requires            That is why design research is a            Change is the norm, so be open-minded and adaptive.
     two things: empathy for people          valuable and important starting point
     and understanding of place.             for media development. Design
                                             research is more than an exercise        4. Consider diverse stakeholders.
     Design research is a valuable                                                       A program is only as good as the sum of its parts. Examine
                                             in knowledge gathering; it is a pro-        the needs and capacities of stakeholders along your program
     tool to achieve both.
                                             active, rigorous, and intellectual          delivery chain, such as regulators, media outlets, journalists,
                                             process tailored to create concrete         and audiences, to ensure the design accommodates each
     Design research is useful whether
                                             programmatic interventions.                 of them.
     you are designing an iPhone in Palo
     Alto or a media development program
                                             Blending practices from ethnography,     5. Be responsible.
     in Pakistan. But for projects like
                                             journalism, and systems thinking,           Anticipate and mitigate the unintended negative impacts
     the latter—whose designers often
                                             design research helps practitioners         a project may have on communities. From selecting
     come from vastly different back-
                                             understand the causes, relationships,       respondents to introducing the research, consider how
     grounds than their users, and where
                                             and human dimensions of complex             actions and words may impact local dynamics.
     the context is extremely complex—
                                             contexts—and then provides tools
     developing empathy and under-
                                             to incorporating this knowledge into
     standing requires greater effort and
                                             the design of innovative and realistic
     unique skillsets.

10   Design Research for Media Development                                                                                                                 11
Design Research for Media - A GUIDE FOR PRACTITIONERS

     Design research is a process of     The process of design is fluid and
     discovery, not of verification. It is
                                         creative, it is constantly refined
     particularly useful in the early stages
                                         and adjusted for different contexts—
     of a project, where opportunities are
                                         design research is similarly versatile.
     vast and the paths to seize them    To that end, while design research             Design Research is Not....
     are unclear. It is a process to discard
                                         is inherently valuable for program
     assumptions, and a means to         design, it can be integrated into              Design research is a powerful tool for understanding complex
     design interventions that are truly fit
                                         other approaches already used by               human systems and surfacing key factors that are critical for
     for context.                        media development professionals.               program design.
                                         Just as no two contexts are alike,
     Because, ultimately, while success- there is no one formula for good               It is not:
     ful programs require funding, tech- research and design.
     nology, and management, under-                                                          A substitute for quantitative research.
     standing of context is paramount.   Beyond the field of media develop-                  Design research is not intended to yield statistically significant
                                                                                             findings. Yet it complements quantitative research by surfacing
                                         ment, design research has been
                                                                                             key insights that are invisible to less nuanced methods. As nec-
                                         widely utilized to answer a range of                essary, qualitative insights can be probed further for represen-
                                         questions relating to governance                    tativeness through survey work.
                                         and international development pro-
                                         gramming. These include:                            A replacement for stakeholder engagement.
                                                                                             Design research emphasizes deep engagement with communi-
                   research               • How can we design a social                       ties and stakeholders with the aim of eliciting data to inform
                   into M&E.                  accountability system to                       program design. It is not intended to replace a program’s
                                                  maximize citizen engagement                stakeholder consultation and sensitization activities.
      This guide focuses on the                   in the design and delivery of basic
      applications of design research             services, and compel government            A solution for every program.
      in program design and develop-              response based on citizen input?
                                                                                             Design research is most useful when the challenge or context
      ment, but the process is equally                                                       is new, complex, or involves diverse stakeholders. Certain
      valuable for M&E efforts.                • How can we help diverse and often
                                                 inaccessible human trafficking              types of programs, such as infrastructure development or
                                                 victims find the means to escape            policy advocacy, may demand other approaches, with design
      The ability to assess and explain                                                      research playing a secondary, or even non-existent, role.
      project outcomes in terms of               their situations?
      context is essential to learning—
                                               • How can the international community
      particularly when projects fall short.
                                                 leverage new technologies to
                                                 support good governance,
                                                 social cohesion, and economic
                                                 development in a country
                                                 that has undergone a popular

12   Design Research for Media Development                                                                                                                        13
Design Research for Media - A GUIDE FOR PRACTITIONERS

     The Design Research Process
     There are five key phases in the design research process.
     The following chapters will explain each of these in detail,
     along with practical advice and case studies.

          PHASE 1                       PHASE 2                     PHASE 3                 PHASE 4                       PHASE 5

          Define                        Plan                        Collect                 Synthesize                    Design
          Articulate a program’s        Develop an intellectual     Work to understand      Make sense of the             Distill findings into program
          ultimate objective, and       framework for informa-      the people the          research, and draw            design recommendations
          define the questions that     tion that is needed to      program seeks to        patterns and insights         and guidelines for use by
          must be answered to help      meet the design             serve, and the actors   from the data. Ensure         the implementing team.
          achieve it. Set clear goals   challenge, and an           that will be serving    that findings are             It is also helpful to present
          to establish boundaries       operational plan for        them. Dive into the     useful and actionable         findings in a format
          for what falls outside        how to get that             context.                for program design.           accessible to wider
          immediate relevance or        information.                                                                      audiences to benefit the
          current capacity.                                                                                               larger community
                                                                                                                          of practice.

                                               Design research can and should               has its limitations when examining         inform programs spread across
                                               be used in conjunction with other            complex systems. To design a good          areas with geographic variance, or
                                               approaches, such as participatory            survey, you need to know what you          programs that will be expanding to a
                                               rural appraisal (PRA), social network        are looking for and how that information   significant scale.
                                               analysis, the Delphi Method, or              may manifest in the particular context.
                                               audience research surveys. In fact,          Qualitative research, on the other         Resources, human and financial,
                                               practitioners will find similarities, or     hand, excels at building rich portraits    as well as time will also be factors
                                               even shared tools, between some of           of a people or place, and at mapping       in selecting research approaches.
                                               these approaches.                            the relationships between people,          Thankfully, design research scales
                                                                                            places, cultures, and institutions.        well. It can be effective as a small-
                                               In combining research approaches, it         But insights surfaced by design            scale process as well as a much
                                               is a matter of sequencing and scale.         research may merit additional              deeper expansive investigation.
                                               Quantitative research, for example,          surveying, especially if they will

14   Design Research for Media Development                                                                                                                                     15
Phase 1 // DEFINE

                                                            Define the

     Phase 1:

     Define     All development projects
                start with a challenge. But too
                often, a project will define that
                challenge by presupposing a
                                                     These kinds of assumption-based
                                                     projects risk failure, no matter how
                                                     many times or where else they
                                                     have worked before, because they
                                                     do not consider how people in a
                solution. Design research helps
                                                     specific context actually behave or
                us start with the right questions.   the unique characteristics of the
                                                     environment. Even if a proposed
                 If, for example, a challenge people solution, such as the SMS information
                 face is poor information or media service, may suit a particular context,
                 access, practitioners might ask: it is impossible to know how to design
                “How can we support independent a service that is broadly accessible,
                 community radio?” or “How might has locally relevant content, and
                 we develop an SMS-based informa- which can be cost-effectively and
                 tion delivery service?”             sustainably maintained.

16                                                                                           17
Phase 1 // DEFINE // Research Framework

     Framing and defining a design chal-       Once a precise and concise design        The research framework is a living          In practice, priorities tend to shift
     lenge, therefore, is key for program      challenge has been determined, the       document that defines your research         from what was originally put on
     design, and for the design research       team should be able to determine         themes and questions, but its focus         paper. All practitioners know about
     that will inform it. Start from the       the information it will need to be       will evolve and narrow over time, first     the importance of flexibility and
     wrong perspective, or with a set of       able to tackle the challenge. This is    as feedback is gathered from stake-         striking a balance between planning
     assumptions, and you can spend            where design research comes in. A        holders, and then even more so over         and operations. The research frame-
     your whole project working on the         strong solution for any context starts   the course of field research.               work creates a way to adjust to shift-
     wrong thing.                              with a strong understanding of that                                                  ing donor and stakeholder priorities,
                                               context. Inspired by the design chal-    While not a record of insights or find-     while also keeping the on-the-ground
     Thus, a good design challenge             lenge, we are now ready to build our     ings, it is reflective of an increas-       realities in focus.
     should:                                   Research Framework.                      ingly sophisticated understanding of
                                                                                        the context, honing in closer to the
       Speak to a user need.
                                                                                        actual truth as the research unfolds.
                                                                                        Over time, more targeted and more
       Do not speak to an organizational
       need, a technological opportunity, or                                            detailed questions arise—this is a
       a donor directive.                                                               good sign.

       Be open-ended in terms of how
       that need might be addressed.
       It should not predefine a solution.

      Include the constraints that the
      design needs to satisfy.
      These may include meeting certain
      timelines, collaborating with certain                                                             Use the
      partners, or building upon existing                                                               framework
      programming.                                                                                                                                  Research
                                                                                                        to align

                                                                                         It can help stakeholders                                    The complete
                                                                                         develop shared understanding                                Research Framework
                                                                                         of the project goals, processes,                            from the Internews
                                                                                         and expected outcomes. During                               Pakistan Case Study
                                                                                         check-ins, use it to reflect the                            can be found at:
                                                                                         evolving understanding of the                     
                                                                                         operational context, and thus                               org/tools.
                                                                                         program priorities.

18   Design Research for Media Development                                                                                                                                   19
                                                                                                                   Phase   1 //
                                                                                                                         1 //   DEFINE////Research
                                                                                                                              DEFINE       ResearchFramework
                                                                                                                                          Principles in Practice

             Key Components
             of a Research Framework:

                   Project Objectives.
                   Specific goals, both concerning the questions to explore
                   and the projected deliverables based on research findings.
                                                                                  Defining the Challenge: A Collaborative Process
                   Key Opportunities and Challenges.
                   From institutional priorities, desk research, and expert

                   Guiding Themes and Questions.                                  Coming up with a robust and           for low-literacy users, like many
                   Also grounded in desk research and expert consultations,       realistic design challenge was        FATA populations, and the upcoming
                   these drive the field research.                                no easy task. Our project had         elections were certainly a factor in
                                                                                                                        planning timelines.
                   Target Respondents and Sampling Plan.                          eight people representing four
                   Outline of different user and stakeholder groups to consult,   teams from two organizations
                                                                                                                        Ultimately, however, the team
                   and how they will be recruited.                                spread across four cities (and        agreed to keep the prompt as broad
                                                                                  that is not including travel).        as possible: “Identify opportunities
                                                                                  This is what we did:                  to improve information access
                   Summary of the research methods to be used,
                   along with the rationale, role, and specific focus of each.                                          and relevancy for communities in
                                                                                  Based on Internews’ existing work     the FATA.” While technology and
                   Operational Plan.                                              and team members’ experience          new media were of interest, they
                   Field logistics, including locations, timelines, research      working in the region, everyone       were excluded from the challenge
                   schedule, team composition, and roles.                         agreed that FATA communities needed   definition to not prematurely bias
                                                                                  better information channels to get    findings. And while Internews had
                   Question Guides and Scripts.                                   information about the world, and to   timelines and programming that
                   Concrete plan for the research team to explore key             share information about themselves.
                   themes in respondent interviews.
                                                                                                                        could be strategically integrated with
                                                                                  But there were differing opinions     the project, it wanted to untether
                                                                                  as to how this should be done, and    the research of institutional priorities
                                                                                  what timelines it should be accom-    to truly benefit from the generative
                                                                                  plished within.                       nature of design research. The challenge,
                                                                                                                        therefore, was intentionally free of
                                                                                  Interactive voice response (IVR)      constraints to encourage research
                                                                                  technology showed promise as          that may contribute to the broader
                                                                                  a news and communications tool        development community.

20   Design Research for Media Development                                                                                                                          21
Phase 1 // DEFINE // Research Framework
                                                                                                                                             Principles in Practice

     STEP 1:
     Map the Issues
     To understand a challenge, examine it, systematically, from all angles.
     Write down your design challenge, then write down all the questions you
     might have to answer to be able to tackle the challenge.

     Then, group the questions to determine key themes that will drive the

     For information- and media-related research, practitioners
                                                                                        Determining Key Themes
     may want to consider:

         Trends over time.                        Contours of trust and influence.
         In addition to current attitudes and     To the extent that trust and          The work in Pakistan aimed to        We began by defining ‘information
         behaviors, examine longitudinal          influence are relative, dynamic       understand the behaviors             usage’ and realized we were interested
         patterns—how have cultural, political,   concepts, explore the drivers and                                          in the following question:
                                                  boundaries of trust. This should
                                                                                        of FATA communities relating
         and technological changes impacted
         user behavior over time? Such a          be done within communities, as        to information usage—a tall
                                                                                                                             How are FATA populations access-
         focus can help anticipate future         well as between communities and       order, to be sure.
                                                                                                                             ing, sharing, evaluating, and creating
         shifts, and allow program designs         a) institutions,
                                                                                        Through a mapping exercise,          information, and how might their
         that accommodate them.                    b) diverse information sources,
                                                                                        we determined the key themes         habits change over the next two
         Given the pace of technological                                                that the study would focus on.       years?
                                                   c) the media.
         change, practitioners must under-
         stand the forces driving change, not     To the extent that effective                                               Beyond current habits, we wanted
         only how that change is manifest         interventions always, at some                                              to understand the needs, capacities,
         today.                                   level, rely on trust, understanding                                        constraints, and sensitivities that
                                                  the nature of trust in a particular
         Multiplicity of media.                                                                                              influence the information-seeking
                                                  context is paramount.
         People’s usage of and relationship                                                                                  and media consumption behaviors
         to media is complex and diverse,                                                                                    of FATA communities.
         and research should examine
         diverse information sources                                                                                         Through a mapping exercise, we
         (formal and informal), as well                                                                                      determined three key themes that
         as the complex, ever-changing                                                                                       would drive the research, presented
         relationships people have to them.                                                                                  here as an excerpt from the Research
                                                                                                                             Framework of the Internews Paki-
                                                                                                                             stan Case Study.

22   Design Research for Media Development                                                                                                                            23
Phase 1 // DEFINE // Research Framework
                                 DEFINING KEY                                                                                                           Principles in Practice

     Theme 1:                                                                               Theme 2:
     Understanding Trust & Influence                                                        Impacts of Displacement

     How do FATA communities evaluate              not specifically oriented towards        What has been the impact of con-          how FATA populations access, evalu-
     the credibility and trustworthiness           disseminating information but that       flict and internal displacement on        ate, and trust different information
     of different information sources              may do so as a secondary activity        the information-seeking and media         sources and media channels. To the
     and media channels, and how do                or naturally as a result their role in   behaviors of FATA communities?            extent possible, the research will
     these factors impact the influence            communities (e.g. service providers                                                map how these attitudes and behav-
     and reach of different source and             such as schools or clinics where         Since 2007, FATA has experienced          iors change over people’s timeline of
     channels?                                     people gather, or entrepreneurs that     significant population migration as       displacement.
                                                   wield economic influence). There         a result of government operations
     Both formal (e.g. newspapers) and             will be a specific focus on emerging     against non-state armed actors and
     informal (e.g. community leaders)             sources of information.                  sectarian violence. The research
     sources of information will be                                                         seeks to understand how migration
     considered, as well as sources                                                         and displacement has impacted

     Key questions include:                                                                 Key questions include:

     •      What are the social norms around gathering, sharing,                            •   How do displaced FATA populations access information?
            and assessing different types of information?                                       How does this compare to communities that still reside within the FATA?

     •      What are the metrics FATA communities use to determine                          •   How does the experience of migration and displacement,
            whether a particular piece of news or information—or a source—                      both conflict-related and seasonal or work-related, impact how FATA
            is credible, trustworthy, or worth passing on to their networks?                    populations evaluate the credibility and importance of different
                                                                                                media sources?
     •      Specifically, what are the uses and perceptions of secular versus
            religious information sources?                                                  •   How does information pass to and from FATA residents and
                                                                                                connections outside?
     •      Based on the above metrics, along with reported and observed user
            experiences, can we map the relative influence and reach of different
            types of information sources among FATA communities, how information flows
            between them, and how these patterns have changed over time?

24       Design Research for Media Development                                                                                                                                   25
Phase 1 // DEFINE // Research Framework
                              DEFINING KEY

                                                                                         STEP 2:
                                                                                         Review Existing Research
     Theme 3:                                                                            Desktop research is a critical early          As part of the literature review,
     Usage of New Media & Technology                                                     input to the design research process.         include work in the specific geo-
                                                                                         Literature reviews, expert consulta-          graphic context as well as the sector
     As technology is vastly changing           Beyond analyzing indicators such         tions, and discussions with institutional     (and review both case studies and
     the communications landscape in            as technology penetration (e.g.          partners ground the potential future          evaluations).
     Pakistan, and will continue to do so,      radio, television, or mobile), size of   in the wisdom of what has been
     the research will have a particular        audiences for particular programs,       done before.                                  In consultations, seek out three
     focus on perceptions of and behaviors      dollars invested in specific channels,                                                 different types of experts:
     around new media and digital com-          or other market metrics, the study       Desk research sets the stage for                  1) Operational experts,
     munications tools.                         will examine the human factors that      design. With such an expansive
                                                impact technology behaviors and          body of innovation and achievement                2) subject matter experts, and
     Given the potential of information         choices.                                 in the field of development, any work             3) institutional experts.
     and communications technologies                                                     should build on what has been done.
     (ICTs) to enable easier and broader
     access to information, the study
     will seek to understand specific
     technologies that have high potential
     to reach FATA communities, as well
     as challenges around and limitations                                                         Operational experts have worked extensively in a
     of ICTs.                                                                                     geographic context. Their insight will be especially key
                                                                                                  in planning the logistics of a research trip and developing
                                                                                                  a risk management plan.
     Key questions include:
                                                                                                   Subject Matter experts have implemented or evaluated
     •   What are current behaviors around the use of technology to access, share,                 similar or complementary programs, and can share their
         create, and evaluate information? Can we extrapolate larger trends around                 opinions and understanding about how and why their
         technology usage beyond specific channels and media sources?                              research and program approaches succeeded (or fell short).

     •   How does literacy, in all its forms — textual, technological, and media — 
                                                                                                   Institutional experts from organizations, donors, or other
         impact usage of technology among FATA populations? What are ways
                                                                                                   stakeholders can help focus goals and deliverables. They can
         in which FATA communities currently circumvent their own capacity
                                                                                                   help understand what outputs are most useful and feasible,
         constraints around technology to get and share the information they need?
                                                                                                   and how best to present them.
     •   What are the threats to the use of technology, and how do FATA
         populations respond? Does the cultural appropriateness of technology
         vary with its intended purpose (e.g. mobile phones for communications
         versus mobile phones for listening to music or the news)?

26   Design Research for Media Development                                                                                                                                     27
Phase 1 // DEFINE // Research Framework
                                                                                                                                                     Principles in Practice

                                                Consulting Experts
           Before fieldwork, the team consulted with experts on key project
                 themes and to gain better understanding of the operational              Category        Role            Affiliation        Profile
     context. After fieldwork, experts helped interpret, analyze, and validate
                                                                                         Subject         Academic        University         DC-based Pakistan expert
             research findings. This is redacted sample of those consulted.              Matter          Researcher                         with on-the-ground perspective,
                                                                                                                                            with focus on political stability
                                                                                                                                            and Islamic politics. Advise on
                                                                                                                                            research framing questions,
Category        Role            Affiliation      Profile                                                                                    and institutional interests.

Operational     M&E             Donor            Well versed in operating M&E            Subject         Co-Founders     Local ICT4D        Islamabad-based technology
                Officer         Organization     programs in FATA, familiar              Matter                          Firm               and civic participation firm that
                                                 with Internews. Advise on                                                                  has deployed mobile-based
                                                 operational and risk planning                                                              information services across
                                                 and management.                                                                            Pakistan. Advise on technology
                                                                                                                                            behaviors and service design.
Operational     Chief of        International    Extensive on-the-ground experi-
                Party           Development      ence in FATA, and with media-           Subject         M&E             International      Worked with Internews on research
                                Contractor       related programming. Advise on          Matter          Program         Development        and M&E in several countries.
                                                 operations, logistics, and security.                    Advisor         Contractor         Advised on complementary and
                                                                                                                                            adjacent research initiatives to
Operational/    CEO             Local            Works on audience research with                                                            draw from and feed into.
Subject                         Research         Internews in Pakistan. Extensive
Matter                          Organization     experience media behavior in the        Institutional   Senior          Donor              Deep understanding of media
                                                 region. Advise on gaps in current                       Leadership      Organization       landscape in FATA, has managed
                                                 research.                                                                                  Internews programming. Advised
                                                                                                                                            on donor priorities and interests
Operational/    Various Staff   Local            Experts in freedom of information                                                          in the region and for the research.
Subject                         Civil Society    and expression issues in Pakistan,
Matter                          Organization     and the cultural and political fac-     Institutional   Various         Across             Advised on Internews’ needs and
                                                 tors that influence the conversation.                   Internews       Operational        goals around research, perceived
                                                 Advise on research questions, and                       Staff           and Country        opportunities and gaps in current
                                                 the role of technology in shaping                                       Teams              research, program development,
                                                 the information landscape.                                                                 and M&E processes to help refine
Subject         Journalist      Various news     Pakistani journalist with extensive
Matter                          outlets          experience covering FATA and
                                                                                         Given the aims of the research, local or locally based experts
                                                 international news. Advised on
                                                 research framing, questions,            were prioritized over international ones. Institutional and international
                                                 and managing sensitivities.             perspectives still very much informed the research to ensure it would
                                                                                         be useful to a range of stakeholders.

28    Design Research for Media Development                                                                                                                                     29
Phase 1 // DEFINE // Research Framework

     STEP 3:                                                                          Their values and needs will impact This list becomes your respondent
                                                                                      program outcomes, thus their per- group, and each group’s needs and
     Identify the Stakeholders                                                        spectives must be understood and challenges will need to be addressed.
                                                                                      accommodated, as appropriate, in While the map to it is not yet clear,
     Media development seeks to improve human livelihoods through information.
                                                                                      the program design.                       the places where these many view-
     So, it is logical that humans are at the heart of good program design. They
                                                                                                                                points and needs intersect is where
     both inform and inspire program designs, and their needs are the metrics by
                                                                                      List all the stakeholders who the the most sustainable interventions
     which programs should be evaluated.
                                                                                      program must consider. Starting will be found. And be realistic: There
     Yet there are many actors that impact the design, delivery,                      with the end-users, list all those who will be actors your program will not
     and ultimate effectiveness of a program.                                         influence their behavior, as relevant have access to or influence over.
                                                                                      to the program: What people and Still include them as variables to be
     These may include:                                                               institutions do they interact with? aware of, and to recognize the gaps
                                                                                      Which other stakeholders have the in your own data.
         End-Users                             Community Leaders                      greatest impact on their actions? Do
         Target individuals and communities    Individuals with both formal and
                                                                                      this for all the stakeholders identified. Do not get intimidated. This process
         (often called “beneficiaries”) the    informal distinctions as leaders
         activities and outputs of the         within their community and that
                                                                                                                                can be overwhelming. Any map of
         program are intended to benefit.      have particular influence.             Think through the perspective of the conflicting interests of dozens
                                                                                      each listed stakeholder: How do of people and institutions will look
         Service Providers                     Contextual Influencers                 they impact the experience of the unsystematic and unsustainable.
                                               Individuals or organizations that
         Individuals and organizations that                                           end-users? What are their priori- Getting through the mess is what
                                               have impact or control over the
         serve as functional touchpoints for                                          ties and goals? How do they view the research is for.
                                               environment or the individuals
         reaching end-users—not all may be                                            the other stakeholders on the list?
                                               in which a program is targeting
         formally recognized as information                                           How can they contribute to program
         sources or service providers. These   Policymakers                           objectives?
         may include radio stations, primary   Creators of the environments in
         schools, or agricultural extension    which a program exists through
         workers.                              legislation, rhetoric, or other
         Administrators                        forms of power.
         Functional managers that oversee      Institutional Partners                                Predict users’
         the actions of service providers.     Institutional donors, private sector                  needs, not                                Know who to
                                               partners, or other organizations                      solutions.                                include when.
                                               that define, resource, and influence
                                               program design.
                                                                                       Think broadly and fundamentally           Naturally, stakeholders include
                                                                                       about users’ needs. For example,          funders, partners, colleagues,
                                                                                       users may not need “a radio               and others who are contributing
                                                                                       station” or “better information”;         to or otherwise directing the
                                                                                       rather, they may need security,           work. Include their perspectives
                                                                                       stability, or connection with             when planning the research,
                                                                                       loved ones, all of which can be           but once fieldwork begins,
                                                                                       addressed in multiple ways.               your allegiance is to end-users.

30   Design Research for Media Development                                                                                                                             31
Phase 1 // DEFINE // Research Framework
                                                                                                                                   Principles in Practice

             A Note on Sample Size
             In the age of “Big Data”, it is hard to resist the idea
             that survey data, and lots of it, is better. It is true that
             quantitative data is a valuable tool for many aspects
             of program design: Large datasets can help identify
             sweeping trends across a community, or determine how
             human well-being has changed in a region over time.

                                                                            Defining Target Respondents
             The strength of such analysis comes in part, however, by
             reducing nuance.

             To complement data analysis, design research is
             intrinsically about understanding complexity through
             human nuance. This means aiming for a focused and              Pakistan has a vigorous and diverse media ecosystem, and
             manageable sample size. The goal is not statistical            below are the stakeholder groups that our research targeted,
             representation; there is no need to touch every potential      as well as the target percentage of the overall respondent
             type of stakeholder relevant to the program. Rather, the       population for each group, based on our mapping exercise.
             goal is enough representativeness to draw meaningful
             insights on patterns of behavior and context.
                                                                            Early on, we agreed that the focus      Further, researching information
             The most valuable insights often come from making              would, first and foremost, be on        di s tri b utor s ( 5 % ) a n d reg ul a -
             surprising thematic connections between seemingly              information consumers (60%): FATA       tors (5%) would help Internews
             disparate behaviors and cultural norms. These can only         communities who seek information        identify the oppor tunities and
             be generated by human evaluation of collected data.            through diverse outlets. Under-         challenges for information dis-
             Further, as the best analysts and program designers are        standing their behaviors and atti-      semination. Finally, media-related
             usually those that conducted the field research, their         tudes—and their underlying ratio-       organizations (5%) including NGOs,
             facility with the entire data set is important. As powerful    nale—and capacities would allow         watchdog groups, and others will
             as large data sets can be when run through NVivo or Atlas      Internews to develop content and        help guide the research process,
             TI, human creativity is also a powerful tool—and for it to     programs that will reach and be         both in data collection as well as
             work well, the capacities of human memory should be            understood by these populations.        analysis. On the following pages is
             considered when determining sample size.                       Understanding a broad range             a condensed version of the study’s
                                                                            of information producers (25%),         stakeholder analyses:
                                                                            both formal and informal, and the
                                                                            motivations, capacities, and self-
                                                                            conceptions of each actor would be
                                                                            critical to mapping information flows
                                                                            and networks of influence and trust
                                                                            among FATA communities.

32   Design Research for Media Development                                                                                                                       33
Phase 1 // DEFINE // Research Framework
                               DEFINING TARGET                                                                                                             Principles in Practice

              60%                                                                                 25%

      Information Consumers                                                                  Information Producers

      Examples of Entities                         Key Questions                             Examples of Entities                       Key Questions

     • FATA populations in and outside of         • How do they access, share, and          • Journalists: local and foreign           • What are their goals in participating
       FATA, a diverse sample in terms of           assign value to different types                                                      in the information landscape, and
                                                                                            • Bloggers
       gender,* age, economic background,           of information?                                                                      in producing information?
       education, location (both rural and                                                  • Traditional leadership
                                                  • What is the role of information/news                                               • How does each actor see its role,
       urban)                                                                               • Informal community leaders
                                                    in the context of life in FATA? (Does                                                and how does it compare to other
     • Particular attention will be paid to         it play role in creating change? How    • Civil society and/or special interest      actors in the ecosystem?
         a)   influencers, as their habits and      FATA populations perceive informa-        groups (e.g. youth organizations,        • What sort of training have they had
              choices have outsize impact on        tion/media? What types of informa-        NGOs, fundamentalist groups)               to produce information, and what are
              their larger communities              tion do they want to access?)
                                                                                            • Religious media outlets (e.g. mullah       the standards they hold themselves
         b)   youth, as their behaviors can       • What is their access to and usage of      radio) and leaders (e.g. imams)*           to?
              suggest trends in information         technology?
                                                                                            • Government officials                     • What is their sense of the security
              consumption and technology          • How do they evaluate the credibility      (e.g. Political Agents)*                   issues involved in their work?
              habits                                and trustworthiness of information                                                   How do they mitigate security risks?
                                                    sources?                                • Government and state-controlled
         c)   low-literacy populations, as ICTs                                               media outlets (Pakistani and foreign)* • What other information sources
              have the potential to uniquely      • For influencers: What is the                                                       do they draw upon and use?
              serve them                            relationship between these individu-    • University journalism departments
                                                                                                                                     • What do they see as the biggest
                                                    als and those they influence? How       • Press clubs                              constraints, for themselves and
                                                    do they gain and use their influence?
       * Note: It may be difficult to access                                                • Political parties and activists          their listeners/viewers?
                                                    How does information and com-
        female populations. Little is known         munication impact or facilitate their   • Businesses and/or entrepreneurs          • How do they evaluate their success
        about this demographic in the               influence?                                                                           as information producers?
        region, much less specific media
                                                  • For youth: What are the tools they                                                 • For businesses: How do they
        and technology behaviors.                                                             * = May not be possible
                                                    use to access and share information?                                                 approach marketing in FATA, and
                                                                                                                                         is it any different from how they
                                                  • For low-literacy populations:
                                                                                                                                         advertise in the rest of the country?
                                                    What are the ways in which they are
                                                    accessing information, despite their
                                                    lack of literacy?

34    Design Research for Media Development                                                                                                                                         35
Phase 1 // DEFINE // Research Framework
                              DEFINING TARGET                                                                                                         Principles in Practice

            5%                                        5%                                       5%

      Information                              Information                                Media-Related
      Distributors*                            Regulators/Controllers*                    Organizations*

      Examples of Entities                     Examples of Entities                       Examples of Entities

     • Media groups                           • Government agencies                      • NGOs and civil society groups
       (e.g. Jang, Dawn, Lakson)                (e.g. FATA Secretariat, Pakistan           (e.g. Rural Media Network Pakistan,
                                                Broadcasting Corporation, Pakistan         Pakistan Centre for Development
     • Local media outlets
                                                Electronic Media Regulatory Authority)     Communication)
     • International media outlets
                                              • Traditional leadership and tribal        • Journalist unions
     • Television broadcasters                  elders
     • Crowdsourced content sites
       (e.g. Hosh Media)
     • Aggregated content sites
       (e.g. Teabreak)

      Key Questions                            Key Questions                              Key Questions

     • How do they determine the              • What are their key goals and             • What do they think are the key          * For this study, it was determined
       content that they will include in        concerns regarding to the production       opportunities and challenges in          that perspectives of information
       their outlet? How do they prioritize     and dissemination of information?          securing greater information             distributors, media-related
       different pieces of content, and       • How do they determine what types
                                                                                           access and better quality of             organizations, and information
       choose what to feature?                  of information can or cannot be
                                                                                           information for FATA communities?        regulators/controllers would
     • Do they track responses to the           shared, and how they will be shared?     • What are their thoughts on our           largely be drawn from existing
       content they put out? If so, what                                                   research framing and plan, as well       research and expert consultations.
       tends to be more/less popular?                                                      as our findings/analyses?                Field research would largely target
       Do they have ideas as to why?                                                                                                information consumers
                                                                                                                                    and producers.

36    Design Research for Media Development                                                                                                                                    37
Phase 1 // DEFINE // Research Methods

     Many instruments are available to         Naturally, practitioners must choose
     help researchers for getting a holistic   instruments based on what is fea-
     view of a target community.               sible in the environment. Consider         The Value of Variety
                                               culture as well as security, timelines,
     Group interviews provide a broad          and other challenges.                      Any research program worth its salt will use several
     but basic understanding of key                                                       different instruments. Multiple methods can help
     research themes, and sur face             Over time, the methods used may            researchers triangulate data surfaced by different tools
     threads that require further probing.     change, either to focus on an              and address the inherent deficiencies within each tool,
                                               emerging theme or to overcome              helping overcome research bias.
     Individual, in-context depth              challenges (of bias, logistics, or
     interviews allow a deeper under-          other) that crop up in the field. Often,   Everyone carries biases, and different instruments surface
     standing of people’s frustrations,        a discovery in the course of research      different biases in both researchers and respondents. For
     vhopes, and day-to-day lives, especial-   makes one or more instruments              example, due to natural social dynamics, respondents
     ly when used over time.                   obsolete; for example, a service           in a group interview may be eager to appear more pious,
                                               trial of a government information          more hard-working, or otherwise impress each other with
     During a home stay, as the guest          line is impossible if the phone line       their answers; individual follow-up interviews may elicit
     of a respondent, researchers gain         has been shut down for the past six        more self-reflective answers. Similarly, during an in-depth
     greater empathy and insights into         months. Governments and devel-             interview, a respondent may be embarrassed to admit
     how people think and operate, as          opment organizations do not always         challenges they have experienced in using a service, for
     social barriers are broken down           have updated information on the            fear of appearing incompetent, but a service trial or an
     through sustained engagement.             service availability, especially for       observation of that same person using the service can
                                               rural areas, so plan accordingly and       raise these frustrations loudly and clearly.
     Service trials yield first-hand expe-     remain flexible.
     rience of how programs and services                                                  Using several instruments helps correlate findings, check
     work—and thus insights about the                                                     biases, and better understand the subtext of people’s
     relationship between institutions                                                    answers.
     and people—which is critical for
     effective program design.                                    Keep it
     The common thread to all of these
     instruments is immersion. Design
                                                  Always question whether a
     research tools open structured space         research tool is the right tool for
     where researchers can discuss,               the situation, and whether the
     observe, test, experience, and               mix keeps things engaging for
     understand the mechanics and                 the team. Research should be
     emotions of daily life in the way that       stimulating, and using a range
     respondents do.                              of tools help unlock creativity,
                                                  which is critical for program design.

38   Design Research for Media Development                                                                                                                      39
Phase 1 // DEFINE // Research Methods

      Research Tools

                                                GROUP                                                                                INDIVIDUAL
                                                INTERVIEWS                                                                           DEPTH INTERVIEWS
                                                Facilitated discussions with a                                                       Semi-structured conversations that
                                                group of respondents. Respondents                                                    probe into an individual’s attitudes
                                                may be grouped for any number of                                                     and thought processes. Best when
                                                reasons: Similar demographics or                                                     conducted in private and in a setting
                                                profiles, or diverse viewpoints.                                                     that respondent is comfortable with,
                                                                                                                                     such as their home or workplace.

      Used To:                                 Challenges:                               Used To:                                   Challenges:
     • Gain a broad understanding of           • Group environments will impact         • Gain a deep and nuanced under-            • Getting rich data is time consuming.
       a new issue area and uncover              respondents’ responses. The desire       standing of how a person thinks and         The team may have to visit a respon-
       key themes to probe further.              to appear in a certain light amongst     behaves.                                    dent several times to establish the
                                                 ones peers can influence answers.                                                    trust required for them to speak
     • Understand the dynamics within                                                   • Learn about the environments in
                                                                                                                                      openly and honestly.
       a community, quickly profile            • Certain individuals may dominate,        which respondents live, work, and play.
       several individuals, and identify         and if they have some kind of                                                      • People may not want to reveal their
                                                                                        • Develop relationships with potential
       respondents to follow up with at          formal or informal status within                                                     true feelings or may simply misreport
                                                                                          target users, with whom the team can
       greater depth.                            the community, their presence may                                                    details for any number of reasons.
                                                                                          return to help design, prototype, and
                                                 prevent others from speaking their                                                   Thus, it is important to validate
     • Establish shared research                                                          test solutions.
                                                 minds.                                                                               findings across several respondents.
       experiences and common
       reference points among the team.
                                                                                        • A private setting to minimize the
      Requires:                                                                           influence of other people.
     • A facilitator who is socially                             Be                     • A significant amount of time,                               Keep it
       perceptive, firm, able to synthesize                      inclusive.               at least one hour.                                          small.
       quickly, and has the ability to spark
       and sustain discussion.                                                          • A skilled interviewer that has deep
                                                  The value of group interviews di-       familiarity with the research                 For individual interviews,
                                                  minishes if there are more than 10      topics, and ideally an accompanying           there should be ideally one or
                                                  respondents. But when entering a        note-taker/photographer.                       two, and certainly no more than
                                                  new context, group interviews that                                                    three researchers, present.
                                                  are open to all signals interest in
                                                  all perspectives, and helps diffuse                                                  Any larger a group and it can
                                                  tension when specific individuals                                                    become intimidating for the
                                                  are chosen for interviews.                                                           respondent.

40    Design Research for Media Development                                                                                                                                   41
Phase 1 // DEFINE // Research Methods

                                                    OBSERVATION                                                                                 HOME STAYS
                                                    Observing the activities in a                                                               Extended (and usually overnight)
                                                    particular context, or the actions                                                          stays in the homes of your target
                                                    of an individual or group of                                                                users, where interview and
                                                    individuals, to gain insight into                                                           observation methods integrate
                                                    the subtle forces that shape a                                                              with natural social interaction.
                                                    place or a people.

      Used To:                                       Challenges:                                 Used To:                                       Challenges:
     • Gain personal, experiential under-           • Time constraints often do not allow for   • Deepen understanding of a target             • Homestays can raise expectations
       standing of a context, community,              long-term observation—only when the         user group by observing the finer              among respondents—after living for
       or individual helps build an intuition         researcher starts getting bored do they     details and nuances of their lives.            several days (or even a single night)
       about that context; this then enables          start noticing the minute contextual        People tend to discard with pretenses          with someone, the line between
       you to make better design decisions            insights that are most revealing.           and act more naturally the longer a            researcher and respondent can blur.
       for that context.                              Yet project timelines rarely afford the     guest spends with them.                        It is critical to address expectations
                                                      space for a team member to ‘grow                                                           upfront, before the interaction begins.
     • Identify otherwise unarticulated needs                                                   • Achieve a more holistic understanding
                                                      bored’. Thus, researchers must be
       and actions that may be subconscious                                                       of community dynamics. By living in a • There may be personal risks to the
                                                      constant, vigilant observers that are
       to respondents themselves; what                                                            community for several days, 24 hours    researcher: Depending on the con-
                                                      attuned to, and documenting, the ebbs
       people think they do is often different                                                    a day, greater exposure to diverse      texts, there may be health concerns
                                                      and flows of the environment.
       from what they actually do.                                                                rituals and opportunities for engage-   (e.g. hygiene, food preparation) and
                                                                                                  ment will present themselves.           security challenges, so heed the
                                                                                                                                          advice of the local team.
     • Patience. Observation takes a long
       time. It is impossible to visit a hospital                                               • A high degree of sensitivity to how
       for an hour and understand all that                            Try                         your presence may impact your hosts.
       happens in that environment, and why.                          shadowing.                  The presence of a guest can be a
                                                                                                  financial and even emotional burden,
     • Confidence. Observation requires
                                                       Shadowing is much like Observa-            in low-income communities. Thus,
       researchers to trust their own instincts,
                                                       tion—it requires immersion and the         be sensitive to your hosts’ cues, and
       and to believe their own insights have
                                                       focused study of people. Unlike            compensate for any inconvenience
       value. Such confidence grows with
                                                       Observation, Shadowing asks users          you pose (e.g. bringing food as a gift)
                                                       to be active participants in the           or understanding when to abandon
                                                       research process by “thinking out          (e.g. if it seems that it is straining the
                                                       loud”; that is, by articulating their      family’s resources and energy).
                                                       thoughts as they conduct actions.
                                                       While an imperfect window into the
                                                       human mind, it yields oft hard-to-
                                                       get insights into factors that direct
                                                       or influence behavior.

42    Design Research for Media Development                                                                                                                                                43
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