Let's say I'm designing a service experience for a restaurant app.

For a typical restaurant, you have an owner, a manager, an executive chef, line cooks, waiters, and a bar manager.

Only the waiters will use the application.

I am trying to find literature on the practice of developing a behavioral model for each person in this system (owner all the way to bar manager). The model includes application-related stuff (e.g. how they will use the app) but also includes a lot of other non-app behaviors like who influences the purchase decision, what the owner's perception of the app is even if she doesn't ever use it, what their business priorities are irrespective of the app, etc.

The question: What is the term used to describe this practice of interviewing and analyzing people involved in and around an app for the purposes of building a detailed behavioral model?

What I've tried

  • User/UX research is usually oriented at understanding user behavior with respect to an app, whereas I'm focused on really understanding the user's business needs without regard to the app.

  • This is different from psychographic segmentation, which I've used for high-level segmentation of users. Here we are looking at specific roles (e.g. an owner will always be concerned over the profitability of the restaurant)

  • It seems to be different from UX/marketing personas because I'm focused on understanding the behavior and incentives of concrete roles rather than abstract examples (e.g. "Pam is a soccer mom...") used for personas.

  • It seems close to a voice of customer analysis, but voice of customer is traditionally focused on understanding the customer's needs and wants rather than building a behavioral model of how they operate within the business.

I'm asking for the term because that will at least point me down the right path to finding tools to help build this behavioral model.



1 Answer 1


You are probably looking at a combination of technics/methodologies to get to a behavorial model:

1. Ethnographic field study (Based on interviewing and observation in situ) two aspects to consider here:

A-Descriptions of the scene: Describe the physical aspects of the work environment, including the layout of workstations, desk space and clutter, collaboration and conversation areas.

B-key events and incidents: What happened, and who did what? What is your impression of these incidents, and what are team members’ thoughts in regard to and interpretations of these events? How do they feel about them?

2. Contextual enquiry ( based on interviewing and observation in situ but more structured and task focused.

Both options are part of Contextual Design methodology but an Ethnographic field study is more comprehensive than a Contextual Enquiry. So I would suggest using a full field study first before fine-tuninng using a contextual enquiry.

For more details about different approaches and when to use them :

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3. Ethnomethodology (Focused on the "procedural" aspect in day to day interactions and is more oriented towards Computer-supported cooperative work)

Hope that helps

  • Great answer for me because it provides not only a specific term, but also alternatives I can research. Thanks much!
    – tohster
    Commented Mar 3, 2015 at 18:40
  • 1
    Happy to help! I have also updated by answer to include Ethnomethodology ,a less known approach but is very much relevant for what you are trying to achieve.
    – Okavango
    Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 8:56

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