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Methods – Day in the Life

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What it is:

A study in which the designer follows the subject through a typical day, observing and recording events to build up a realistic picture of what actually happens. This may need to be repeated over several days in order to gather a balanced perspective. Mapping a ‘Day in the Life’ can illustrate graphically how time is assigned to various activities.

Input:

Expertise:

Time:

Staffing:

Costs:

Low | Medium | High

Low | Medium | High

Low | Medium | High

Low | Medium | High

Output:

User insights and in-depth understanding

Best suited to:

 

DISCOVER

Early stages of the design process and in validating design concepts

Informing the design process by observation of real activities and behaviours

Verifying that a chosen design solution is both robust enough to meet the understood requirements, and any unanticipated changes that it may introduce in use

Characteristics:

DESIGNING FOR | WITH | BY PEOPLE

Type of interaction:

LEARN | LOOK | ASK | TRY | IMAGINE

Goes well with:

Interviews, Observation & Shadowing, User Kits

What designers say


‘…It takes commitment, focus and endurance but it is an effective tool that gives real insights from real people over the course of the day…’   Filip Krnja

Examples

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Redesigning the Ambulance

Designer Gianpaolo Fusari joined ambulance crews and paramedics on 12-hour shifts. This enabled him to observe both expected and unexpected events and procedures, and to understand the challenges and activities undertaken.

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Connected Car: sustainable and inclusive mobility

Fifteen people between the ages of 24 and 82 were interviewed and observed going about their routines over the course of a day. The results gave insights into their mobility requirements and attitudes to electric cars.

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