Design Probes
Cultural probes are a staple of the user-centered design toolkit. The technique is explorative, design oriented and based on self-documentation from users. Probes are great for sparking insights and building empathy and it’s nice to see them spreading into the service design realm.

Design researcher Tuuli Mattelmäki has written what has to be the ultimate resource on the technique. Her 2006 dissertation on Design Probes from the University of Art and Design in Helsinki offers nearly 200 pages of richly illustrated examples, history and theory. It presents a step-by-step overview of the method and its history.

As a followup to the primary contents the book concludes with seven academic papers on the subject. The author explores facets of the probe technique though focused case studies including variations such as mobile design probes.

The book itself is nicely designed with color illustrations throughout (the research papers are in black and white). The title is also available as a free PDF download from the Taik university book store.

Design Probes Filed under: research, probes, culture, empathy, inspiration, context.
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One Comment
Jeff Howard on September 2, 2010 1:13am
Here's a link to the book on the Taik Bookshop website. The paperback is 30 euros and well worth it in my opinion, but the free PDF download is available from that page as well.
Design Probes By Tuuli Mattelmäki
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  1. Instructions: Apply!
  2. Changes in the field of design
  3. Probes seeking human life
  4. Step by step of applying probes
  5. Conclusions — after the probing
  6. Presentation of articles
  7. References