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FALL 2016

Contextual Research

The course IDUS 215, Contextual Research teaches students how to implement Ethnography in our daily lives as a part of our design thinking.

The project to be worked on in this 10 week long course was a Magazine based on the topic “Millennials in relation with time”

We created groups within the class and did an intensive ethnographical research to gather content for the magazine.

What is Ethnography?

Ethnography is the study of humans. It focuses on groups of people and describes there behavior, personalities, thought processes, likes/dislikes, etc. Contextual Research is the Ethnographic research conducted to know the customer/target group for design processes.

Digital Ethnography A form of research in which ethnographers observe and analyze photographs taken by and of their target group



Team Selection

After speed interviewing over 20 people, We built a team with the 7 of us. Our team had diversity in terms of majors/minors, ethnicity, personalities, skills and expertise. We named ourselves Team$$$


Jon Megan Alex Aby

Creative Strategy: MD PISA

MD PISA is the strategy we used throughout our process of the Magazine 

Mess: Looking at all the issues, emotion

Data: Converting emotions into facts

Problem: Establishing the problem statement

Ideate: Generate compelling solutions

Solutions: Identifying possible solutions

Acceptance: Gain acceptance and approval for solutions

Process: D.E.S.I.G.N Model





D.E.S.I.G.N. is a non-linear design process that we executed to reach our goal of creating a successful magazine 

Discover Immerse, Observe, Document

Examine Convert Observations into Facts

Solidify Identify the Opportunity

Imagine Generate compelling solutions

Go… Implement

Nourish Seek acceptance, User validation

D - Discover  Observations  Coding  Interviews  Cultural probes  Secondary research


E - Examine  Affinity Map  Yellow Labels  Blue Labels  Pink Labels S -Solidify  Green Post labels  Article Ideas  Advertisements I - Imagine  Parking Lot Concepts  Magazine Concepts  Branding  Layout Ideas G - Go  Application of concepts in the magazine  Final layout designs N - Nourish  Gathering Feedback  Implementing Feedback





After spending a fortnight observing millennials at coffee shops, parks, school etc., we coded our findings to find cultures and common behavior


Interviews Types of Questions

Types of Interviews

Close Ended • •

Provide for a decision

Heart Based •

Individual Interviews

While conducting interviews, we came across different types of interviewees that fall under the following categories:

Group Interviews:

Normal: The people who

Expert Interviews

Walking Disasters: People who refused to talk to us.

Logic/Brain based Deal more with fact than feeling

- Allows consumer to talk about

how they feel

-Provide for a solution

Types of interviewees

We interviewed millennials individually and when they were in a group with their friends. We also discussed millennials with nonmillennial people such as their parents, teachers, salespeople, etc.

were neither too enthusiastic nor in denial to help us out. They provided us with quick, useful information.

Self Starters: People who were so excited to talk that they gave us a lot of information, including offtopic knowledge.

Sample Interview 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

11. 12.


14. 15. 16. 17.

What is time? at what point in your life did you become aware of time? How long would you say is 1 minute Does the mathematical equations that break time down into units effect our perception of time Define 'old' could you spend a day without checking the time? why or why not what feelings do you relate with time in general? what does mindfulness (aka being present) mean to you?


What do you do for fun/in your spare time. What are your thoughts on time when your having fun as opposed to time when you are doing things you are not interested in.


Does checking phone make time crawl or fly by. What does adrenaline and excitement relate to your feeling of time


Does time change depending on a persons opinion of career? If you are satisfied with your job does it fly by or crawl by? And vice-versa What color would you say is time? How much time do you spend thinking vs doing? What is your first childhood memory? How does your past affect how you interpret the present


Time is money. Time is fast, you don’t realize When I could read time. Study the clock. Time was nothing before I knew how to read the clock Its very less if you’re doing something you like and long if you don’t like Yes. In sports for ex things happens in seconds, minutes Old – I associate it with experience, more refined, memories, can be something which you need to renew

2. 3. 4. 5.

GOD NO. if I have nothing to do all day (which doesn’t happen), then maybe I could do, but. Have to eat when its time. If its just 1 and I am hungry, I would think maybe I should just eat in an hour or so. Time – It’s a long wait, being patience. I get restless “when is that time going to come” or let it pass, the anxiety. I think its very important for us (millennials) we are in this time where we are privileged but we also need to be responsible. Its crucial so we can take good decisions. I meet my friends, I watch TVs and Shows, or I sleep, Time becomes irrelevant when you’re having fun (like when with friends) but when im doing something I don’t like it becomes a burden “okay Fine, let me just work for 3-4 hours straight and maybe I can take a half and hour” that half an hour goes by in no time but the 3-4 hours of working seems really long. Even if its physically draining you you woulnd’t know if you’re having fun Social media – flys by, or waiting for somebody’s text – its super slow Excited – you’ll count down. Like going out or travelling that yo’re looking forward to, its anticipation along with excitement. With adrenaline, your nerves are involed, you are nervous but looking forward to it. Imagine you’re in line for sky diving, you’re nervous but excited. You are very very aware of time, it doesn’t crawl or fly by. Time is always a factor. Maybe not while working out. Jobs:

6. 7. 8.



1. 2.


Where do you see yourself in 10 years? If you could time travel once in your life, when would that be and why?

15. 16. 17. 1.

18. 19.

1st – w hatev er man, its 6:30 I need to go home, w hatever 2nd job – I did stuff I liked – I stayed in office till later and time w asn’t a constrain

Black Thinking – 95:5, 65:35, if I have an hour to finish then its 20:80 When my mother used to run behind me to do my hw. When I was in 2nd - 3rd grade Yes a good amount





Family/old friend Compared to the past, I perceiv e today as I hav e to be more cautious and aw ay.

Future = success. Hopefully in a good job, hopefully in LA, whatever I am doing I want to be successfully 1920s. very classic, very subtle, NO NO NO 40s, considering because its interesting with what was going aroud with the world – the wars in most of the countries. I’d probably die but still

Cultural Probes


Secondary Research


E AFFINITY NOTE (yellow Post-It):

Affinity Map After gathering all our data through various research methods, we used Affinity mapping to analyze it.

BLUE LABEL (Post-It): These labels together collect a coherent set of notes representing a theme or work distinction. The labels are written in the first person, as if the user is talking to you. PINK LABEL (Post-It): The next level of label, these collect together a set of blue labels with a common theme. Pink labels abstract the data another level and characterize the Blue labels under them. The language of Pink labels is also in the voice of the users. GREEN LABEL (Post-It): The highest level of a affinity label, these summarize the Pink labels under them. Green labels also can be written in the voice of the customer but may be more general in nature. Green label denotes a big piece of the user story. Most affinities have five to eight green labels.

E Yellow Labels Yellow post-its consist of noting Data Points These data pints use the voice of the Customer, or the target group. - For our project the Millennials. Out team made around 600-700 based on our primary and secondary research Example: I want to visit Europe

E Blue Labels Blue post-its represent groups of yellow posits that convey have similar data points These also use the voice of the customer, or the target group. Out team grouped a maximum of 8 yellow post Example: We like to travel

E Pink Labels Pink Post-its convey the key data from groups of blue post-its Out team grouped a maximum of 6 blue post-its Example: We would rather travel that settle in one place

S Millennials want family

Green Labels As last step of the affinity mapping, we made green labels summing up all our research in a total of 11-12 labels By this time, we realized there is a significant “duality� in the beliefs of Millennials. Every green post it had a counter label to it.

Millennials like vintage, unique and customized products

Millennials would rather have pets than family

Millennials are the majority users of mass produced products

Article Ideas


Since there was a prominent duality in out affinity map, we decided to use it as the base of out magazine and came up with the following article Ideas: 

Politics, Anarchy

Environment, Anti Environment

Sustainable Fashion, High-tech Fashion

Social, Antisocial

Individualism, Collectivism

Vices, Virtues

Time is running out, we have a lot of time

Career for the sake of it, Career for the love of it

We need money, we don’t care about money

We want family, we don’t want family

Humanity, Insensitivity



Since we chose millennials as our reader for the magazine, we decided to create advertisements that would appeal to the Gen-Y. We tried to make them loud, graphic and straight to the point.

Parking Lot: Concepts


We created 30 concepts each and 50 concepts as a group before making decisions on our final product. Although, put them aside until the final article ideas. These concepts included innovative, radicle and/or problem solving ideas that could serve to the Millennials

Concepts for the Magazine

We also came up with a bunch of innovative ideas for our final product. Some of those were: 

Making 4 different publications: Magazine, Newsletter, Website, Coffee Table Book

Making a 3D magazine

Making the Magazine customizable

However, the concept we stuck with was making a Flip magazine, that opens from both sides and shows the duality in Millennials our research was emphasizing on.




To start with the magazine layouts, we first came up with a color scheme, font combinations and decided on the magazine’s tone and personality.

We chose to make the magazine a square, giving it a character and more logical given it’s a flip.

I Layout skeleton Before starting with the layouts, I created an architectural grid for the layouts. We chose the base size to be 10”x10” with margins of ¼” and a bleed of ½”. We divided the layout in an 8x8 grid with a gutter of ¼”. Software used: Adobe InDesign for the final Layout Adobe Illustrator for all vector shapes and objects in the layout Adobe Photoshop for ads And Adobe Lightroom for photo editing.

Initial Sample Layouts


G Implementation We named our magazine Ambiguity and decided to focus on the Quarter-life-crises of millennials through the duality.

G Final Layouts We created 30 spread for both the sides of the magazine and created a mix-and-match storyline through the article organization We used our self-clicked photographs and self-created art for almost all the visuals in the magazine.


Critiques Not only did we edit each others’ articles, we critiqued the magazine layouts within the group over 4 times.



Rearranging the D.E.S.I.G.N

To sum up, we used the D.E.S.I.G.N. model in various arrangements and not as a linear process. We were discovering throughout the 10 week long process and often switching between the I and S. In addition, the Implementation and Nourishing mostly went alongside.



Reflection I personally found this project, and the course as a whole, to be very inspiring. While working on the creative process, I didn’t realize that I had started using ethnography in daily life and the topic of Millennials in Relationship with time was always in the back of my mid. Even though 10 weeks were a definite time constrain for the project, I enjoyed the intensity of the process. In class 1 we were introduces to the phrase “Embracing Ambiguity”, which I did not understand or relate to back in the day. But after having finished the project and being satisfied with it, I feel like it was fun embracing my ambiguity and playing around with it.

Ambiguity Process Book  

The journey from initial research to the final magazine

Ambiguity Process Book  

The journey from initial research to the final magazine