At a civic scale it is common to characterize an entire population based on demographics. Income bracket is useful and often tied to meaningful economic patterns. For a housing innovation team working with the city of Boston, understanding how to design for an entire population simply based on knowing their income was not enough. Tasked with crafting tactical, strategic, and policy solutions targeted to retain middle income residents within city limits, the team recognized a knowledge gap in which quantitative understanding could not fill.
This presentation will recount our experiences conducting ethnographic research with Boston residents. We will discuss each phase in the research process from cross-functional alignment to how the results were socialized by the innovation team and we will share these insights to discuss the practice of civic research programs, an emerging space for the user experience domain.