For this week’s exploration, I was put face to face with users in learning what user research was. I had learned that it was research concerned with people, places, practices and interactions between people and things. I was also introduced to learning what a practice was, and how we would need accurate details to move designs forward.
The Learning Process
We first were told to have our first experience observing people and practices. During my this adventure, I was astounded by how many things actually happen all around us. Even more astounding was the detail and neutrality it took to effectively jot them down. I saw things from kids following an adult around campus, students walking up and down the lounge, and even elderly people sound asleep in a chair; there were definitely certain practices I had witnessed.
After taking these observations, we then turned them into actual field notes. We learned that there were commonalities we had seen, common possible practices as well. We learned how to turn “girl eating Pringles with chopsticks” to “I saw a girl with sportswear eating Pringles using chopsticks”. We learned to come up with a design challenge for a particular practice, such as finding which orientations for seats would be best to accommodate for being able to navigate through them well and being able to get a seat.
Our Own User Research
For my observations on the topic of commuting, I decided it would be easiest to take notes of the act while doing it, since I am a commuter myself. I tried to jot as many things I had noticed down with as many neutral and precise details as I could. One particular pain point that directed some of my notes were that the closeness of the seats made my knees ache. This made me discover other people that seemed to have issues with space as well. The jottings I had helped me see the practices people partook in while being on the bus or Light Rail, and possible design challenges like different compositions for a bus to allow more space.
For me, I found it difficult to not imply the motives that everyone had while taking notes for their actions. “Trying to look for seats” was an implication made from “they walked up and down the lounge, pausing at times to look around the seats.” As someone trying to describe a practice, I was keen in trying to not make many implications. Coming up with design challenges has also made me learn that if we can describe a practice well, we might be able to support it. In the future, it would be a good idea to have a notebook handy to take notes on things we observe, possible practices, and research possibilities that can happen to make those practices easier. That sleepy elderly man could have used a cotton bed delivery system for sure.