2020 Mentor

Carmelina Piedra

Director of UX at Panduit

Professional Development:

Practice Ethnographic Research in Real-Life Environments

User Experience is all about solving problems. In order to do so, user research can be used as a tool to make sure we are solving the right problems (uncovering gaps through research) and doing it right (validating what we are designing works best for our users). Join Carmelina in working through solving real problems by observing users in real-life environments.

Observing users is one of the best ways to truly understand how people see and live in the world. Culturally, we are so different. If we look at the ways people eat, for example, you might observe that for example, in China, people share food and have a platter of food that everyone takes portions out of with chopsticks. In Italy, they also eat “family style”. They pass the plates around and portion out their food but eat with forks. A lot can be understood by observing.

User research can be done in many ways. Contextual inquiry gives different outcomes in some cases. Users aren’t always aware of the problems they have around them. If you ask them a question, they may not have the answers you need. So, it’s important to observe them. Using this methodology in digital or other environments, it yields the same results. It’s a very powerful tool that allows us to solve the right problems as designers.

Observing users can open up a lot of gaps in everyone’s journey: whether physical or digital. These gaps give us new innovative opportunities for products and services that other people have yet to uncover.

Intermediate Level:
  • Mentees must know how research plays into the overall design process
  • Mentees should have a basic understanding of ethnographic research
  • Mentees should have some experience in Powerpoint
Session Topics:
  • Ethnographic Research 101: The Basics, Value and Its Origin
  • Research Preparation
  • In-Field Research — Meet as a group at a location (ie: Millennium Park, Water Tower Place, Eataly) to practice ethnography learnings
  • Research Synthesis — Work together to define the problem areas and uncover opportunities
  • Presentation & QA
  • Ethnography 101
  • Real-life ethnographic practice
  • Portfolio piece

Carmelina is the Head of UX at Panduit. She has a Master’s Degree from the Institute of Design, IIT and specialize in Innovation and Human-Centered Communication Design. Her passion for user experience design started close to 20 years ago when developers built sites that didn’t function well and wondered why. Her background includes leading and executing innovative teams and products from user research to execution in Agile and Waterfall methodologies. She has been mentoring, coaching and educating those wanting to learn #moreaboutux.

Linkedin: Carmelina Piedra

Talk to Carmelina about:

Her big family and traveling