Bus Stop User Research

I conducted user research by observing a bus stop in front of Loew Hall at the University of Washington. I observed the bus stop by taking field notes. While I was taking my field notes, I first identified all the objects I saw. After that, I took notes on how people were interacting with the objects by identifying the practices being used. Whenever I saw a practice being used, I tried my best to come up with an accurate name to best describe it. For example, a common thing people do at bus stops is waiting. So a waiting practice is being used by everyone at the bus stop. I also tried identifying any problems with the practices being done by the people.

Bus Stops by Loew Hall

I found conducting user research fun because I thought observing a bus stop would be boring but it turned out being interesting because I noticed things I would never have thought about. One of the things that surprised me was why everyone at the bus stop did not take a seat on the benches when there were available seats. Some of the seats were taken but there was enough for the people standing. While I was observing the bus for 30 minutes, some of the people at the bus stop had to wait up to 15 minutes. I saw this caused some discomfort for some of the people and they looked really tired. I remember seeing 2 out of the 3 people standing looking at the benches a couple times and made no attempt to take a seat. This seemed like an interesting problem to do further research on. A possible future action I could take if I wanted to gather more data is asking some of the people at the bus stop on why they choose to stand instead of sitting when there were available seats. My guess is that maybe they feel embarrassed or too shy to ask the people on the bench to make room so they can take a seat.

A question I have for myself is “why do some people choose to stand rather than sit at a bus stop if there are available seats” I would try to answer this question by organizing a couple of interviews with the people who do stand at the bus stops and ask if it is maybe because they feel too embarrassed or shy to ask the people sitting on the bench to make room? Once I identified this problem in my field notes during my observation, I immediately thought about a solution. My solution is to include seating borders so people have a defined space. I would also ask the people who stand at the bus stop if they would feel more comfortable sitting on a bench if it had seating borders. I ride the bus frequently so this is something I am interested in finding more about and will be excited to see what the results come out to be.

Reflexivity could have influenced my research if I included anything from prior experience. An example of this would be if I had included my own experiences of waiting for a bus stop and shaped my field notes by assuming my type of experience is the same as some of the people I observe at the bus stop. I made sure to not let this happen by eliminating all assumptions based on my prior experiences and only took notes based on what I saw. A reflexive issue that might be important to address is to avoid having the assumption of events that happen in one observation are likely to happen the next time I observe the same thing. This could lead to inaccurate data for research.

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