Real People Doing Real Work
For eight months, we followed the progress of a group of twelve people in a Fortune 500 company here in the Pacific Northwest who used Office 2007 to perform their daily work. These people graciously agreed to install Office 2007 Beta 1 on their main work computers and to let us track their feedback and thoughts over a long period of time using the software. The participants in the study were not software engineers or in any way associated with high-tech; they were just normal people who use Office to help get their jobs done.
Yes, the sample size for this specific study was small. And yes, the study only included people in one company in the Pacific Northwest. It is true that for these reasons the results of this study aren't statistically significant.
But the purpose of this study wasn't to provide quantitative results. Rather, the goal was to employ ethnographic research strategies to allow us to understand qualitatively how the new Office 2007 user interface fit into daily work lives of typical Office customers.
Marketers and developers are usually anxious to do quantitative research but you don't know what you don't know. Before you can do quantitative, you must do qualitative.
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