User Research Process Blog

What, How, and Why?

In this past weeks assignment as well as in studio, I was not only able to learn about user research; I was also able to conduct my own research in the field. During studio my group and I went to the HUB at the University of Washington to observe practices for 5 minutes. We were then able to choose which practices we saw as having potential for improvement. My team explained that working with campus resources and HFS would allow the design of microwaves at the HUB to be better researched. In the assignment I observed people and practices related to commuting. I watched a bus stop for approximately 30 minutes. From here I was able to analyze practices that have improvements to be made with more research.

My group was able to compare observations and share ideas for which practices held improvement.
Presenting our ideas to the class was a valuable way to receive feed back and expand.
Many of us were surprised by some of the observations or of the process in general.

So What?

I enjoyed this project as it was the first time in class that we were able to go beyond the class room setting. Also, the deliverable itself was an excellent way to give us experience in the field. I would like to find out more about how research can be kept unbiased and accurate as it was slightly difficult to make observations without assumptions ( calling them a student, assuming they are texting even though we cannot see their phone screen).

Now What?

As this was my first time having to observe people without making assumptions, I feel as though this technique could be very valuable in the design industry. While many times during the class presentations, groups wanted to skip the research part and wanted to go straight to design. I personally have learned from this assignment on how one needs to step back and see the bigger picture in order to begin the design process. Companies wanting to see how well their products work or what kind of product are in necessity at the moment will benefit greatly from conducting user research. Using the example my group presented, if the UW wanted to see how efficient the microwaves in dining halls are, user research would be a prime method in that study.

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