Contextual Research

  • (Preface)
    This course presented the techniques necessary to conduct relevant and useful research of a novel domain in context. We gained knowledge in research processes and techniques to contribute to the design process in user-centered products and systems in which end-users and their goals are given primary importance. 
    The Methods of Contextual Research course covered several research techniques such as; ethnography, observational and interviewing techniques, analysis frameworks and models, and strategies for presenting research to clients and colleagues. 
    Our project work was completed in collaboration with remote classmates. The qualitative data that was gathered on entrepreneurial artists were from three different co-ops and several art festivals in Detroit, Michigan as well as Savannah and Atlanta, Georgia. We conducted interviews and three types of ethnographic techniques.  The qualitative data is then synthesized into opportunities. If we can find ways to support new behaviors, and facilitate greater interactions, we can create a user-centered experience.
  • Conclusion
     The co-op environment has the potential to develop interconnections for stakeholders, artists and the community. Art co-ops provide an active cycle of nurturing community and culture through shared knowledge, and support. Connection is based upon communication and common interests. Most co-ops foster networking but have room to enhance and grow their support system. The larger an artist's network is, the greater the opportunity for growth, collaboration and financial gain.
     A co-op's stakeholders and artists have an opportunity to develop ongoing efforts to create a leadership role in the development of their local arts sector by educating the community. There are opportunities to develop art and instructional-based classes for the consumer community along with providing more education and workshops to the artist community. The success of communities, cultures and businesses depend on the shared knowledge and support throughout its community. Opportunities exist at a cultural and business level to develop emotional connections and create great experiences for the local community through events.
    There are opportunities to develop a digital forum for artists to post upcoming events, past experiences and collaborate on ideas and pricing structures. This creates an open forum for artists to share their knowledge in an informal way. The success of the co-op depends on the success of it's artists.
    There is an opportunity to create a more desirable business culture for art co-op’s artists, stakeholders, and customers. This can be done by developing brand awareness with identity marks, signage, packaging and offering online purchases. The arts provide the creation of social and cultural capital for communities and the individual artists. Involvement in art co-ops that promote personal engagement through creative activities, events, sales and identity promotion can provide indispensable improvements and growth to communities. Even though there are differences in the business models, the culture will benefit from the opportunities that we uncovered. The artist co-ops can use these opportunities as best practices to strengthen the connection between the owner, artist and customer.