Cultural probe – Πολιτισμική διερεύνηση

Cultural probes (or design probes) is an ideation technique used to inspire ideas during the early stages of a design process. It is similar to diary studies.


It serves as a means of gathering inspirational data about people’s lives, values and thoughts especially those that take place intermittently or over a long period.


Information gathered from cultural probes is particularly useful early in the design process.

Cultural probes are appropriate when you need to gather information from users with minimal influence on their actions, or when the process or event you’re exploring takes place intermittently or over a long period.
For example, you could use cultural probes to explore how users make use of their cameras over a long trip, capture photos, preview them, transfer to their computers or archive / post them online.


Selected participants are briefed, given a kit of materials, and briefed about the requirement to record or note specific events, feelings or interactions over a specified period.
Typically, a follow-up interview is conducted at some point after the briefing session. This helps ensure that participants are actively engaged, and are collecting the required information.
At the end of the specified period, the materials are collected and analysed.
A de-briefing session is also typically conducted, in order to supplement, validate and otherwise explore the information gathered by the participants.
Information gathered is then analysed, and documented in some fashion.


Analysis and Documentation should always follow. The use of affinity diagramming to analyse the data gathered is of major importance. The data is also likely to be useful in creating personas, and this provides a good communication medium. Making participants’ notes and photos available to project team members also provides a good way to communicate findings.


Martin, B., & Hanington, B. M. (2012). Universal methods of design: 100 ways to research complex problems, develop innovative ideas, and design effective solutions (Digital ed). Beverly, MA: Rockport Publishers.