Why we love Blogs

We began experimenting with blogs as a research method about 18 months ago.  Previously we had explored a number of social media types in our projects including Facebook and Twitter but were interested in using a more formal platform where we could both interact directly with people and deliver information in an authoritative manner.  Our most recent project at University of Bristol has been our most successful experiment with blogs to date and is an excellent case study illustrating the benefits of using social media as a research/consultation tool.

The blog at Bristol ran for just over one month and in that time it received nearly 1000 visits.  Out of these visits 248 people left comments or responded to questionnaires.  The blog was supported by a couple of site visits where a design research interviewed and discussed the project with students and staff.  When we combined the results from both parts of the project we found that we had reached nearly 1500 students.

The benefits of this type of approach are significant.

1. Time & Money – Our site time is cut drastically saving both time and money for our clients.

2. Distance – Social media allows us to interact with the people we are designing for no matter where they are or where we are.

3. Quantity – We are able to reach far greater numbers of people than we would be able to in a similar time frame on site.

4. Information – We have found that people generally respond more openly to social media than they may with a questionnaire or interview meaning that we can gain deeper insights into the needs, wants and desires of the people we are designing for.

We can now confidently advise our clients that a blog, if strategised correctly, is an excellent tool for research and consultation.  In 2008 we were asked to speak at a conference Edinburgh College of Art had organised.  Our presentation centred on the development of our methodology. ECA are now publishing a book and asked us to contribute, we were delighted to be able to update our contribution to include our work with Social Media and more specifically the success at Bristol.  The book will be launched in Spring 2011.  Keep an eye out on the blog for further details and let us know if you are interested in reading our paper for the ECA book.

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