Cultural probes (or design probes) is a technique used to inspire ideas in a design process. It serves as a means of gathering inspirational data about people’s lives, values, and thoughts.
- Use materials such as postcards, journals, cameras, text, and imagery to gather personal insights from participants.
- Provocations are designed to inspire people to thoughtfully consider personal context and circumstance and respond in unique, creative ways.
- Materials should be varied and imaginative to elicit responses that are relevant to the design inquiry.
- Probes are flexible, open-ended, and intentionally subjective, collecting inspirational data to stimulate design imagination.
- Design probes support empathic understanding through information gathering over a prolonged period, where the researcher cannot be present.
- Probe kits are combined with other research methods such as observations, site visits, and interviews.
- Probes should be thoughtful in aesthetic craft, message, and delivery and be created to inspire delight and respect, response, and return.