A Guided tour is a field method by nature. In this method, the researcher gets immersed into the participant’s environment. Here, the user or participant gives the researcher a guided tour of their home, workplace, or daily activities. This will enable the researcher to understand not just the physical details of the participant’s environment, but also their daily routines, habits, values and other qualitative aspects that are part of the daily interactions of the participant.
The participant is someone you are designing for. A guided tour also reveals cultural and gender dynamics that are at play in the user’s environment. The researcher must be sensitive to the aspects that are not explicitly stated by the participant and can probe at points when the participants mention something interesting during the course of the guided tour.
Guided tours are best-conducted one-on-one to pay close attention to every implicit and explicit detail suggested by the customer. The researcher can take pictures, notes, and record audio as well as videos to document the guided tour. Certain visual cues such as where items are kept, how things are organized, why things are organized in that manner, etc. can help reveal many meaningful insights for the researcher.
Advantages of Guided Tour
01 In-depth understanding
As the researcher receives a guided tour firsthand from the user, through a one-on-one interaction, at a pace comfortable for the user and in a space that is familiar to the user, the researcher is exposed to a clear and detailed picture of the user and their environment.
Guided tour is human/user-centered i.e. designed to address the need of the users.
03 User & Researcher relationship
As the user and researcher interact one-on-one, in an environment that is comfortable for the user, the user can reveal a lot more personal details as they would otherwise and with utmost authenticity.
04 Expert opinion
The user is considered an expert in their domain and the researcher gets to directly observe and probe the user on it.
Disadvantages of Guided Tour
By nature, guided tours can be time-consuming.
02 User authenticity
Some users may lead the guided tour in a way to position themselves as experts when their viewpoint of their environment could be extremely different from what they are trying to project. This may be especially true in case of sensitive issues such as culture and gender.
03 Diverse Viewpoints
Different users may present their environment differently; therefore, the guided tour could lead to diverse findings.
Think Design recommendation
Guided tour as a substitute to visit survey helps when the researcher/s have a limited idea of the context and their ideas could color the research outcome. Say, for example, researchers from a particular culture and environment are on a visit survey in a completely different culture and environment; in this case, researchers may document their observations from their point of view without an insight into the local context. When these researchers employ Guided tour method, they would recruit a local guide who would explain the context from the guide’s understanding of the local context. In such a case, the observations would be from the point of view of the users than the researchers.