HCDE 210 Sprint05: User Research

My User Research Location

The topic for this week is user research. A user research is about observing how people interact with the environment, and their practices, which are what they do repeatedly or what behaviors that happen multiple times. We are doing user research to improve our design and get inspiration for new design ideas.

What I Did

Link to my user research memo

I did my user research at a bus stop located at NE Campus Pkwy & 12th Ave NE near Elm Hall in UW campus. The research is about people’s practices at a bus stop in order to get inspiration for getting design ideas about improving the design of a bus stop and making people’s life more convenient. Most buses there can arrive downtown, Seattle. I decided to do my research at noon on Saturday, February 11. College students usually go to downtown for relaxation during weekends and stay up late at weekend, so the time that I started my research was at 1: 14 pm. I recorded people who were at the bus stop and waited for bus’s behaviors on my sketchbook in 40 minutes. After observing, I concluded all my observation and put them in my user research memo. There are three key practices:

  • A Being Alone and Using Phones Practice
  • A Getting Information from Information Board Practice
  • A Catching Buses Practice
The Notes on my Sketchbook

And then I picked up the most interesting practice from them, which is the second practice, the getting information from information board practice. People who are living nearby usually ignore the information board because they take the same bus every day, and they are familiar with the routes of different buses. However, people who are new to the area can only depend on the information board at the bus stop to learn which routes they have to take in order to go to their destinations.

The Notes on my Sketchbook


It was very interesting to observe users because users’ practices and behaviors can reflect a lot of problems that are related to the research location. For example, by observing people’s practices, I noticed that it is hard for people to understand the information on the information board at the bus stop. In the future, I would like to do more research about what people think of the information board at the bus stop and what information they would like to gain from the information board.

However, it is hard to avoid reflexivity during a user research. For example, when I just came to Seattle, it was hard for me to know which bus I should take by only searching information on the information board at the bus stop. So when I notified some people were struggled on getting information from the information board, I paid more attention to it because I realized that I am not the only person confused about the information board. I related myself with some users, so the practice that I focus on would be the information board practice. I should be more objective when I do a user research.

Application in the Future

Designers can be inspired by doing user research and come up with more design ideas. A user research can help designers to understand the demands from users and how users interact with the specific locations. User research can be applied to different design areas such as web design, phone application design, and even architecture design. Watching users’ behaviors and listening to their opinions to conclude their practices. Users’ practices will reflect the problems in the design so that the designers can come up with better design ideas or improvement of the design. For example, observing the users’ hobbit of using smart devices and conclude how they go back and forth between different apps can inspire designers to design better navigation for the smart devices.

However, there is a con side for user researching. If we decide to do a user research by asking the users questions, they might give you the answers that they think we will want to hear. At this time, the result of the user research will not be reliable. Therefore, when we are asking questions, we also need to observe the users’ facial emotion to predict whether they are expressing their own opinions instead of the comments that they thought we would like to hear. But it is hard to identify whether the comment that the users give us is their truly thoughts or not.

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