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 participants.

Quick details: Guided Tour

Structure: Structured, Semi-structured, Unstructured

Preparation: Topics, Guide recruitment, Recording tools, Participant recruitment

Deliverables: Recordings, Field notes

More about Guided Tour

Guided tours are best conducted one-on-one to pay close attention to every implicit and explicit detail suggested by the guide. 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 are things organized, why are things organized in that manner, etc. can help reveal many meaningful insights for the researcher.

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 mentions something interesting during the course of the guided tour.

 

Advantages of Guided Tour

1. 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.

2. Human-centered

Guided tour is human/user centered i.e. designed to address the need of the users.

3. 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.

4. 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

1. Time consuming

By nature, guided tours can be time consuming.

2. 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 the case of sensitive issues such as culture and gender.

3. Diverse Viewpoints

Different users may present their environment differently; therefore, the guided tour could lead to diverse findings.

Think Design's recommendation

Guided tour as a substitute to visit survey helps when the researcher/s have limited idea about 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 local context. In such a case, the observations would be from the point of view of the users than the researchers.

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