Politecnico di Milano (ITALY)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Pages: 4671-4674
ISBN: 978-84-612-7578-6
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 3rd International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 9-11 March, 2009
Location: Valencia, Spain
This work presents a worldwide research on real use of products: specifically user experience with dishwashers. The final goal is to obtain qualitative information and build a set of guidelines and requirements in order to design new concepts of products with a significant improvement. For this purpose an observation method based on rapid ethnography protocol has been developed and applied in five countries by a network of international researchers.

Nowadays User Centered Design (UCD) is the preferred approach in design new and analyze existing products. Detailed and smart analysis of user behavior based on observation is a very powerful and rich source to find latent users’ needs. Different cultures are another very interesting variability factor to be considered.
The research is not intended to gain statistical knowledge on user behavior but to obtain innovative inputs to be considered in the design of new ergonomic solutions. For this reason we decided to keep the sample small but to go in deep with each subject.

The study has been conducted through participant observation, what gave the researcher the possibility to perform also contextual interviews. During the process the researchers paid attention to actions that are usually ignored by the users.
Researchers, in 5 different countries – Australia, Brazil, China, Finland and Korea – were asked to observe 3 users from different categories (housewives, students,…) using their dishwashers.
Each researcher followed these steps:
a. did a dishwasher map of the existents dishwashers typologies in their own country.
b. chose users for the Ethnography Observation with following criteria:
• 3 users having the same nationality living in different residences,
• cover a wide range of characteristics in terms of age, gender, family situation and dishwasher’s type
c. contacted each user and invited him/her to participate to the research explaining goals and modalities
d. agreed with the users the best time to visit them in their homes asking some preliminary questions (“First step interview – by phone”) and explaining to the user the needs to make a video of him/her during following actions:
• loading the dishwasher
• turning on the dishwasher
• emptying the dishwasher
The order of these actions is not defined since it’s needed to be the more natural possible.
e. After filming the user, the researcher did an interview to complete the Ethnography Observation (“Second step interview – face to face”).

Results and conclusions
After all observations we started analysing:
• the differences and the common habits between the users from each country in order to figure out the behaviours, the needs and the desires of customers from each culture;
• the differences and the common habits between all the users observed to find out inputs for the development of a dishwasher appropriate in different cultures and contexts.
Through all these data we could highlight common issues and interesting hotspots. Different innovative ideas were also collected from the users. Both, general and innovative, aspects will inform the next step: Concept induction through a participatory workshop.
Beside the knowledge on the specific issue: users’ interaction with dishwasher the most important result of this research is the development and experimentation of an observation protocol and a researcher network that can be applied to gain ecological information on other kind of consumer products.
ergonomics, ethnography, user centred design, dishwasher.