User Research

The Process

Some field notes from my observations at the bus stop.

In class, we learned about user research. In small groups, we carried out 5 minute research sessions on different parts of campus, documenting everything we observed about the people there and how they interacted with their surroundings. For the individual assignment, I spent half an hour at the bus stop outside of Alder Hall- NE Campus Parkway and University Way NE. My goal was to observe what people do as they wait for the bus. I took field notes in my notebook- many pages of bullet notes about what I saw people doing. The purpose of this assignment was to observe people naturally in relation to the parameter of commuting. In an HCDE setting, user research is the first step towards discovering how people do things, and then coming up with ways to make things easier. If we can recognize what people do, then maybe we can do things that can aid them in what they do. This activity made me realize that user research is crucial in creating relevant, useful designs that people will actually want. If we can relate to what they’re doing, we can make something specific and actually applicable.


I liked this project. People watching is one of my favorite activities while out in public, and this gave me an excuse to do it! I’m a very detail oriented person, and while I think I know a lot about my surroundings, I found that I noticed more patterns and details when I really watched and wrote things down.

Future Application

My current assignment in Design 166 is similar to this one, so user research definitely relevant to my current life. I wouldn’t say that the research aspect of HCDE is what I want to do, but I really love observing and noticing patterns. Research will definitely be something I do in the future in regards to my own design projects- through this activity, I’ve realized how valuable it is to know about people so your design can be targeted more accurately to fit their needs.

The bus stop where I watched people (it was only briefly this empty…)