Category Archives: Ethnography

Talk at MindTree: “Understanding Your Users”

Was invited for a talk at MindTree, at their fancy “Global Village” campus in Bangalore, to talk about “Understanding Your Users“.

Heavily loaded topic, of course. I decided to focus on 1 possible way of understanding users — using photo documentation techniques to uncover unmet & unarticulated needs. Walked through some examples of photo documentation based user research, using a recent informal study we conducted on the topic, ‘Car Storage Behaviour & Needs’. And, at the end, I also shared some “best practices” from my personal experience of having used this technique over the years.

The audience consisted of people from varied disciplines – Engineering, User Experience/Usability, Product Management and Business Analysts…so, decided to keep the content relevant for audiences that are completely new to user research, as well as those who have basic awareness and minimal practical experience in field techniques.

The complete presentation can be downloaded here.

Interestingly, the crowd was very enthusiastic and inquisitive. Unlike similar sessions I’ve conducted before, the audience here warmed up very quickly and were full of questions in the very first few minutes. Was quite impressed with the level of enthusiasm and “aliveness” in the group. It made the whole effort very fulfilling!

And, here’s what it looked like…

Param\'s talk at MindTree


Research preview: Business related usage of mobiles by Bottom of the Pyramid users

At last, here’s a research preview (.PPS file | 2MB) of something we’ve been working on lately. In the spirit of ‘open source’, we are keen on sharing some of the work we do (with commissioned research, we don’t have that luxury of course). The idea is to create a dialogue, share ideas, thoughts among fellow practitioners in the research space, and with non-researchers from any discipline/background.

Here’s a brief introduction…

In addition to commissioned research projects, we, at Onward, also conduct on-going research across a variety of topics that may impact Technology, Mobile and Retail industries in emerging markets like India.

This presentation is a preview of a study that we are currently engaged in. The study is aimed at identifying the usage of mobile phones among the ‘Bottom of the Pyramid’ (BoP) users, especially those who use mobile phones as a way to sustain/grow their livelihood. We intend to document the users’ key behaviour patterns, trends and needs with respect to communication devices.

We would love to hear your thoughts/feedback/questions/comments. Your inputs will be really useful as we continue to dive deeper into this topic.

Design Summit in Bangalore: Day 1 update

This year the CII-NID Design Summit‘s in Bangalore. Just got back from Day 1.

Met with several interesting people (some for the first time)…Kevin Schmidt & Uday Dandavate from SonicRim, Tom Burchard from Continuum, Sudhir Sharma from Elephant (who announced their 6-week old partnership with RKS, which is an interesting development for the design industry in India to keep an eye on).

Other notes:

  • Ravi Sawhney spoke about his trademark ‘Psycho-Aesthetics‘ approach to product design. And what’s even more interesting, Psycho-Aesthetics is being taught at Harvard Business School. Very cool.
  • RKS Guitars…an interesting coming together of design & music.
  • For the umpteenth conference in the recent past, a ‘panel discussion’ ends up being a session where half a dozen ‘panelists’ are sitting up there on the stage and one of them go upto the podium and deliver a 15-20 minute presentation, most often a blatant pitch about their design firm…and worse, a presentation that has zero correlation with the one who presented earlier. So, where’s the “panel discussion” then? (Only Dilip Chabria seemed to be peeved about this phenomena…my sympathies with him…he actually didn’t have a PPT ‘coz he actually thought it was going to be a “panel discsussion”)! 😉

Looking forward to the break-out sessions and few interesting discussions tomorrow, like Fitch’s presentation…(Fitch has started up in Bombay and one of their first projects for the Aditya Birla Group is already Live in the stores) and the panel discussion about “Thriving in the competitive marketplace with design” with the big names, Kishore Biyani and Bruce Nussbaum. More updates by Friday….

Not just an Ad

A (chronic) asthmatic senior citizen puts up a full-page Ad by a pharmaceutical company for “World Asthma Day” on her bedroom wall.


Here’s what it reads…

“One Indian company has been
committed to a cause for 30 long years.

Through untiring research.

With the world’s widest range
of inhaled medicines and devices.

And making these available to all
across 78 countries.

The cause is asthma management.
The company, Cipla.

World Asthma Day, May 3.”

Job Opening: Business Development Head/Manager at Onward Research

Job Opening: Business Development Head/Manager at Onward Research:
The role of a Business Development Head/Manager is to drive the customer acquisition process by identifying and creating opportunities with potential clients. This role will also require working closely with the management team in defining, refining and meeting the overall company/business goals & targets.

He/She will need to be highly proficient in engaging with CXOs, Product Managers, Marketing Managers, Operational Heads, etc. of top organizations; understanding their business needs/challenges and translating these into research projects that would add value to their business.

We are looking for highly talented, skilled and passionate individuals who would drive the growth of this company. More than the qualifications, we’re looking for the passion and excitement to grow a startup company, that is breaking new ground in user research in India.

About Onward:
Onward Research + Consulting is a user research consulting organisation based in Bangalore, India. Our vision is to empower and enable organisations in developing highly usable, effective and innovative products/services for their end-users.

We use observational research techniques to identify unmet and unarticulated needs of users, leading to deep insights for our customer’s business. In the few months since we started up, we have been working on exciting projects for technology, mobile, retail and healthcare organisations that deliver products/services in India.

Please email your resume to jobs(at), specifying ‘Business Development Head/Manager’ in the ‘Subject’ of the email.

Kitchen labelling


Users’ unmet needs and how they find workarounds…




This user’s ‘backing up’ 1000 phone numbers from his mobile to his computer!