To conduct some user research, I went to UW’s Odegaard Undergraduate Library to observe specifically the area with the big screened Mac computers. The purpose of the session was to find a design problem from a practice done by a person or people. During the 30 minute observation, I recorded field notes of the things that I’ve seen and heard around me, while also drawing some sketches. It was imperative that I did not get distracted or focus on just one single practice for too long so as to not miss something else that could be observed. After the session, a specific design challenge was chosen from one practice that I observed.
A problem that arose while I was at the library was that, there was a practice, in which I would call the “group laughter practice,” that I focused on for a while because it was a practice that slightly irked me. This practice was of a loud group of people laughing at something on their screen. Because of this personal pet peeve of being bothered by a loud group at a library, I tended to keep them in mind while continue to observe other things. In the future, I will work on not focusing too much on one practice and not to let emotions get in the way of observation.
The Uneventful Session
My question that I am posing is: did anything happen during the observation session that surprised me? The answer to that is unfortunately no. Starting the user research sprint, I was hoping that I would be able to observe something that was unexpected or surprising, but all of the things I have observed has already been seen in the previous times that I have gone to the Odegaard library. However, my observations were useful and I was able to find some design problems that could be derived from them.
My prior expectations influenced my own research, even though I tried to keep a very open mind and not let the expectations get in the way of the research. The expectations of people working on seemingly productive things to people just watching YouTube videos, people chatting, and even people getting sick in which I assume is due to the season were all observed. Because I did not see anything that I did not already expect, I wonder if I missed something that could have potentially directed me to another design problem. This could influence future observations in the way that I would only look for practices that I already expect to see and so thus, I would not be able to actually see other practices that I would consider unexpected.