Cultural Probes
Design Thinking


Understanding the cultural context of future users


Create qualitative approach to understand the user, inspire the design functionally and aesthetically, evoke creative reaction of (potential) users, support the creation of design material [Gaver]


Experimental research method

Example of use

Early stages of user-centered design processes


  1. 1.Define data to inquire via the probe

  2. 2.Design probe elements, consider corporate identity, visuals, sounds, tangible elements, and texts

  3. 3.Create a cultural probe package for distribution

  4. 4.Distribute the probe to users

  5. 5.Analyze the data gathered in probes: qualitative, ask for clarification if needed, compare, extract particular occurrences including emotions, ideas, and inspirations

  6. 6.Document the analysis and comparison without interpretation


  1. Gaver, W. et al., 2004. “Cultural Probes and the Value of Uncertainty”, Interactions – Funology Copyright Association for Computing Machinery, London.

  2. Gaver, W., Dunne, T. et al. 1999. “Cultural Probes.” Interactions January + February: page 21 - 29.

  3. Gaver W., Beaver J., Benford B. 2003. “Ambiguity as a Resource for Design”; International Conference on Human Interaction – CHI; USA.

Cultural Probes Polgar.