Ethnography and qualitative data analysishave played a pivotal role in shaping designers knowledge about people.Designers often view qualitative data as a valuable source for gaining a deepand multidimensional understanding of users, which is not usually feasiblethrough conventional methods of quantitative data collection and analysis. Thatis why design ethnography became a core component of most contemporary designprocesses and frameworks such as user-centred design, human-centred design, andempathic design.
However, it seems that recent developments in computing anddigital technologies may challenge this dominant perception. It seem, we needto an integrated review about the existing relationships between big data anddesign, the way that big data has changed and will change user research, andconsequently future of design processes and design itself. The range of thereviewed references was not limited to design and data science, but alsoincludes insights and propositions from sociology and cultural studies towardsopportunities and threats of using big data for understanding people, societyand cultural trends.
Many businesses already started using bigdata technologies for gathering multidimensional data about their customers andusing that not only for understanding their customers and emerging markettrends, but also for predicting their future behaviour. Design might lag behindother relevant disciplines such as marketing and consumer insight in realizingthis significant shift in user data collection and analysis, as existing designframeworks do not designers give a clear idea about the way they can integratequantitative multidimensional data in their works. In fact, this importanttransformation in data collection and analysis is not going to change thedesign processes only, but it also can change the relationship betweendesigners and other people.
The rate digital literacy and awareness all aroundthe world is increasing rapidly. As a result, people clearly understand theimportance of their personal data, and they are actively collect and shareethnographic data about their daily lives using digital devices. This meansthat, people are engaged in an ongoing process of collective data collectionand analysis, and perhaps they are able to identify a wide range of problemsand unfulfilled needs. Thus, designers cannot act as standalone problem findersand problem solvers, they are actually becoming facilitators of that processwith less authority in comparison with their predecessors. Of course,transition to the age of big data has its own threats, especially when it comesto widespread concerns about privacy and security, and this should be takeninto account, if designers would like to conceptualize future design processes. In summary, it was concluded thattransformation in data science would not only provide designers with new toolsfor understanding people, but also can make radical changes in design processesand design profession as a whole, especially in terms of relationships betweendesigners and their audiences in both positive and negative ways.
It seems thatthe importance of this transformation has not sufficiently been recognized bythe design society and as a result, more things have to be done in this regard.