Tracing the Steps
To begin with my user research, I had to identify the most suitable location to gather observations. I had to choose between a market or a bus stop and ultimately decided with a bus stop because I can easily observe everyone in a cluster instead of walking around a supermarket and observe 2–3 people at a time. The location was the next step: I chose the bus stop between Campus Parkway and University Way because it was right outside of the District Market, which meant that there would be a lot of people taking the bus to observe. In addition, I knew from previous knowledge that a lot of people wait at that bus stop to go to U-village and the IMA. This was a perfect location to observe many different people at one place. I took a spot next to the stairs that go toward the District Market and began to observe people, practices, and places around the vicinity. I recorded the time and drew a map of the area and labeled some objects to correspond with my notes of practices that I observed.
The duration in which I went out to gather observations, I realized that there were not as many people catching the bus as I had anticipated. There was also not a lot of people going in and out of the District Market as well. I was surprised, especially since this part of campus is usually pretty busy with students. I began to question whether 2–3 P.M. was the best time to go out and make observations. This made me realize how important preparing yourself beforehand could be for this type of research. In future user research observations, I will take into account the “when” aspect of recording observations and choose a time when students are free from classes where they can easily take the bus to go home, go work out, or to a restaurant somewhere down in the U-Village.
Question: How might we make electronic bus schedules more accessible to bus-goers?
Background: Bus schedules that I’ve seen are usually posted against a wall next to a bus stop, but many bus stops don’t have walls to implement this real-time bus technology. The stop that I observed had this but many people did not end up using it. They used the paper schedule posted at the bus sign instead. For myself, I did not notice the bus schedule until 10 minutes into my observations, where the electronic bus schedule was literally 3 feet away from me. To solve this issue, bus schedules should be posted in more obvious locations where people would usually look.
Answer: It should be implemented either on the bus sign itself or near the benches and street so that people who take the bus can easily find it, instead of behind the bus stop/away from traffic where people don’t usually look.
Reflexivity Vs. Research
Although preparation for doing user research is really good, I found myself mapping out how i’d be taking my notes prior to observation at my location. My notes included jotting down simple notes about the people and place and the rest of my time would be invested in observing practices of these people, which I thought was most important. I think that this influenced my own research because I totally omitted lots of details that I could have been observing, such as how people are doing stuff and who specifically is doing this. My notes for people and places were simplified, such as writing down students, elderly, etc. instead of jotting down specifics of the person such as what they’re wearing. Sometimes these types of information can later be useful when reflecting upon the event and give more details. However, in many ways, reflexivity is good because it allows you be aware of stuff you shouldn’t do while observing, such as making assumptions and not real observations. It made me think twice about what I should write in my observations by sticking to writing facts and not assumptions.