“What people say, what people do, and what they say they do are entirely different things,” is one of the reasons we do usability testing, but this quote is from Margaret Mead, an anthropologist who did ethnography in Samoa. Usability practitioners observe people interacting with products and services in the lab to improve usability, while traditional ethnographers observe people as they go about their lives to understand aspects of their culture. Commercial ethnography uses the tools of traditional ethnography, but focuses on consumers and how they purchase, live with, and use a product or service. This is a complementary approach to lab-based usability studies, and usability practitioners should expand their tool set to include the techniques of commercial ethnography. Luckily, ethnography is similar to usability in that the basics are easy to learn. Although it takes years of training and experience to develop expertise in both usability testing and commercial ethnography, you can obtain valuable and useful information as a novice. You can make mistakes in setting up and running a usability evaluation, but you will still probably collect useful information. The same is true with ethnography -- you may make some mistakes, but unless you really screw up, you’ll learn something useful. In this presentation I’ll present a brief history and then go over the basics of commercial ethnography, arguing that it is an essential adjunct to traditional usability testing. I’ll present two exercises (one for you to do at home), and provide a variety of reference material, including an online course and other web resources, slide presentations, videos, case studies, and an annotated bibliography of relevant books. No experience in ethnography is expected or required. The goal is to give you the confidence to get out of the lab to observe people who are using your product or service. You’ll learn the basics of commercial ethnography and can follow up yourself by going through some of the online resources and articles that will be provided. We’ll also discuss some of the important concepts and issues (e.g., will your presence influence what you’re observing?).