Better Hiking in Burnet

By Amy Borgstrom, Chelsea McCormick, Rafael Manrique, Meghan Bruegge, and Abby Gold

Getting to Know the Problem

Our initial research consisted of observing Susan, a middle aged woman, making her journey through Burnet Woods to find the gazebo. We wanted to see if it would be easy for any person to navigate the woods.

We hypothesized that there wouldn’t be maps or signs directing us to the gazebo. Therefore, making it more difficult to get there and making it an even longer hike because of trying different routes.

Looking for signage to find a better route

User Research

Cognitive Ergonomics were the main human factors we focused on in our study. We had Susan speak her thoughts aloud as she was having them to understand her mental process of finding the gazebo and understand her frustrations about navigating the woods.

We observed Susan, hiking with her, all while hearing her process and thoughts aloud. At the end, we recorded her thoughts on the whole experience.

As for personas, we identified Susan as a typical Burnet Woods-goer and assumed that that person would need more direction in the woods as a whole. They would need signs at all entrances notifying them that it was an entrance to Burnet Woods. They would need maps throughout the woods in order for people to get to their desired destination easier. Without both of those improvements, people would be frustrated at the difficulty of getting in and around the park.

Primary users would be any typical Burnet Woods goer, or any person wanting to find specific places within Burnet Woods. The secondary user would be be the creators of the Burnet Woods’ signs or maps.

Standards for success

Our standards for success are:

legibility, safety, and clarity for all directional material, as well as a welcoming and friendly feel for the nature center.

Potential concept solutions

Our first solution is to create a welcoming, family-friendly nature center. This center will possess stations for children, as well as adults, to learn about their natural surroundings. The current nature center lacks the welcoming feel and information that we think a park’s nature center should have. After observing our subject and doing research, we think that restructuring would be smart.

nature center 3D mockups
Possible interior layouts

Our second solution is twofold. We want to produce a larger park entrance sign and a larger stand for the Burnet Woods map to be placed on. The large sign has the purpose of attracting more people and encouraging them to enter the park. The very limited current signage is not doing a lot of outward, or external marketing, and could most certainly be improved. The map stand is a good idea, due to the fact that the current map is simply taped onto the glass wall of the nature center, and it was not easy to locate nor read, because of the small print.The map stand provides easy navigation and acts as a checkpoint for groups to meet or people to remember where they entered the park.

User testing method

As for the nature center, we think that a focus group would serve best. We do not think the entire structure must be rebuilt, just the inside and purpose. If a group of people, all ages included, were to be placed in the nature center with clearly defined tasks, we think it would be beneficial to observe them and compare the results with the current structural system.

As for the Burnet Woods entrance sign and larger map build, we think a prototype or equally effective mockup would work. Placing the larger sign at the front of the park’s entrance is sure to attract more passersby than the current ‘solution.’

Takeaways

We all learned that a park needs certain amenities to achieve success. Enjoyable nature hikes and signage, especially, are things we normally take for granted, but we did not realize the work that must be initially implemented.

We initially believed the hike to the gazebo would be difficult. Though this hypothesis was indeed correct, we found that the map was too small, though could be found, and the ‘map posts’ were there, just hidden beneath trees and plantlife. We also discovered the problems and frustrations with the nature center during our hike. These complaints came from our subject, and we found that since she has a true interest in nature and wildlife, she cared a lot about making the park an enjoyable experience for everyone.

If we were to change anything, it would be the amount of observable subjects. We think it would have been beneficial to see the paths taken by a child, as well as an older person. Due to the fact that we used only one subject, we were not able to completely remedy every obstacle.

We would grade our group with an eight (if ten is most successful). We think our process was very well thought out and ultimately led to successful ideas.


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