Exploring the Process of User Research

For this week’s sprint activity, we heavily focused on the process of User Research. For our observations within our User Research, we put an heavy emphasis on the 3 P’s (Understanding what practices are done by people in places.) The most important reason why user researches are done is because ..

“if we understand their practices, we can help support their practices.”

Through this week’s sprint activity, understand the importance behind user research and how user research can help us ideate new products that may help the practices observed from the user research. I was able to familiarize myself with it by part taking in user research activities.

Step One: Observing the 3P’s.

For the sprint activity to familiarize ourselves with user research, my and my activity group went to a library close by our studio to conduct a user research and observing what people actually do at libraries. Data was collected on the most common practices we saw people engage in at the library and some unique ones that we normal don’t notice while at a library.

Step Two: Breaking down our observations.

Recording down the common practices we saw at the libraries.

After we got back to the studio, we shared each of our observations then, discussed the common practices that were engaged by the people at the library and talked about some of the unusual practices at the library that we did not expect.

Step Three: Presenting our discovery

Our group presented the common practices we found that were being engaged at the library with the rest of our peers in the studio. We also discussed of a design challenge that can be incorporated into the most interesting practice we observed at the library.

Step Four: Conducting our own User research.

The bus stop where I conducted my user research

We, ourselves had an opportunity to conduct our own user research. The location I chose was a bus stop nearby the University of Washington, I was interested in what practices college students engage in while waiting for their busses. We were given 30 minutes to observe the common and the unique practices that are engaged in at a bus stop.

Here’s a link to my User Research Notes: https://drive.google.com/a/uw.edu/file/d/0B_Gktua6rlQmcmNFRERGNFRuaVE/view?usp=sharing

Reflection:

I had little bit of prior experience of user research as I took an anthropology class and we had the opportunity of taking on a field studies which was very similar to user researching. Something interesting that I was able to take away from this particular research was that I never able to grasp how consumed we are by our electronics until I was observing the people at the bus stop constantly on their phones until the time their buses came. I think a problem that rose during my user research was: I was very hesitant to write down everything I saw because I wasn’t quite sure whether the practices were significant enough to be noted or not. For future user research purposes, I think I will note everything I see and during my analysis of my research determine whether the practices that I have observed are significant enough to be mentioned.

Wildcard: What are some interesting take-aways from your experience with user researching?

I think the unique thing about user research is that during the time where we observe others, we become an outsider of our own society and learn the common practices that we engage in as humans, that we normally don’t think about while we are participating in those practices. For example, majority of the time when I was observing people at the bus stop, there was a large amount of people on their phones. We’re all consumed by our phones however, I was never able to realize how much we’re addicted by our phones until I was sitting down as a observer observing all these people who were constantly on their phones during their time at the bus stop.

Reflexibility:

I think as an avid bus rider, coming into this user research I had enough prior knowledge so there weren’t a lot practices that weren’t unusual or that surprised me during my time of user research. With that being in mind, there was a lot of influence of assumptions I made about the people I was observing. For example, observing is very one-dimensional because you only see what the person’s doing and not quite know their motive for their actions, you don’t have the full story of why their doing what their doing. For my user research, I saw a lot of people standing behind the bus stop rather than in front of the bus stop where the benches are. I assumed this was similar to people sitting in the back of the classes because people don’t really want to have the feeling of others in the back watching them. However, people could’ve been standing in the back of the bus stop because the day when I did my research it was hot outside, and you were able to get shade because there was a building right next to the bus stop. An issue with reflexibility may be that in your own personal opinion something that you are observing may not seem significant and too basic however, it may be a problematic thing that you are unaware of. So this may be detrimental to your research and it is always better to write down everything you observe.

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