Design Research and Ethnography: Services

By: Copernicus Consulting  09-12-2011
Keywords: Social Research

Copernicus Consulting provides a variety of social research methods including ethnography, in-depth interviewing, usability testing, and surveys. We have over 15 years’ experience using, observing, and analyzing social behaviour, with particular expertise in understanding how technology affects social interaction.

Our services are best used in these phases of your business:

  • Product design
  • Web site design
  • Innovation programs
  • Organizational change
  • Mergers
  • Go-to-market strategies

We employ the following methods for these tools.


Field-based research including home, office, and mobile (e.g., in the car; “shop alongs”) locations. We observe, photograph and video people in their natural environments to discern what kinds of designs or messages might resonate with them.

In-depth interviewing

We provide one-on-one or dyad interviewing, often along with ethnographic methods. We plough through the volumes of qualitative data to provide specific actionable insights for designs or messages.


Many of our clients enjoy working through data analysis with us. We welcome this opportunity to involve our clients and have many tools to structure productive group sessions.


We also train our clients to be more autonomous, better equipped, and more knowledgeable than before we met them. Training has included: ethnographic field training, interviewing skills, observation skills, data analysis skills, creativity tools, and structured forms of brainstorming.

Focus groups

We have experience moderating focus groups of up to 10 people.

Usability testing

We can guide clients through their first usability test, right from designing the interview guide to moderating the session. Our experience in user experience design is particularly useful here.


We have many years experience developing survey instruments and project managing launching them online. Descriptive and inferential statistical analysis is included in survey work. This is particularly fruitful when coupled with previous qualitative exploration.

Web analytics

We provide specific measurement plans and Key Performance Indicator development for clients who wish to use their Web site as another site of social data collection. We have experience with project managing analytics implementations and have many contacts with technical expertise.

Keywords: Social Research

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The journalist interviewed one young woman who complained about irregular sizing:“I can be anywhere from a 0 at Ann Taylor to a 6 at American Eagle,” she said. The bane of many women’s existence appeared in today’s New York Times: irregular clothing sizes. It obviously makes it difficult to shop.”The woman used a body scanner.


quantitative research

Roger Martin has a great post on Harvard Business Review that summarizes how ethnographic research differs from quantitative surveys.Martin writes:Qualitative, and especially observational or ethnographic, research enables us to delve much more deeply into the relationship between our firm and its product/service and the customer. Because we aren’t obsessed about adding all the responses together.



Mobile phones are affecting family management:Smartphones bind families closer: some participants told us that their texting increased when they upgraded to a smartphone. In our work with Ryerson University, we are uncovering some interesting findings about domestic mobile phone use. A discrete text to one’s spouse is easily tolerated in the workplace.



Roger gave a brief overview of his book and then engaged in a dialogue with the host, Michael Dila, and members of the audience.Roger explained that some organizations are better able to. Yesterday, I attended Roger Martin’s presentation of his new book, The Design of Business, hosted at the Ontario College of Art and Design.