My User Research Observations:
This week, I conducted a user reasearch experiment that focused on observation. When choosing my observation site, I wanted to focus on a location that I would have the least impact. In my mind, this was best accomplished in the Allen library. Most of the participants I observed were too focused on their tasks to be aware of my observation. I was fairly broad in my observational notes. I paid particular attention to people’s attention; where they spent most of their time (either on a screen or in a book) and how easily they were distracted. The purpose of this user research was to expose me to some of the practices utilized in the field of Human Cantered Design and Engineering. I learned that, through observation, a researcher is able to learn an extensive amount from their participants. For example, I witnessed interactions and design challenges that wouldn’t initially come up in the design process. And it was only through watching people interact with thier technology and in their environment that I was able to see these challenges.
A link to my final submission: https://canvas.uw.edu/courses/1023028/assignments/3104949
Reflection and Further Pursuit:
During this experience, I observed a particularly interesting interaction. While in the library, there was a group of women at a table off to the side of the room. Most of the students present were working individually, which led to an extremely quiet atmosphere. When these women needed to discuss something, they would lean in together, one even going so far as to bring the upper half of her body across the desk, in order to hear one another. I found this exchange really interesting from a human centered approach and design challenge. In the future, I would like to research this further by watching more of these group interactions to see the degree to which they inconvenienced themselves in order to work. In addition to increased observations, I would take a survey, which would include both the group and individuals response to these interactions.
When observing the area, did you have any questions that surfaced?
While conducting my user research, a question occurred to me. Why do individuals gravitate toward the middle of the room while groups stay to the outside? And why do individuals tend to leave as much space in between each other as possible? Granted, I was only observing from a limited amount of time and with a limited sample size, so my observations are screwed, but these would be interesting questions to research further.
While I tried to limit my interference and impact during my observations, I was still very visible and could have easily influenced a person’s activity. I sat in a corner with a chair that faced more towards the middle of the room to get the best view. Given that, there were a few people behind me that I occasionally had to move around to see. My increased activity compared to the other people around me may have served as a distraction and therefor influenced my research. If this was the case and my movement did serve as a distraction, people might have taken that into account and started watching or unconsciously paying more attention to me than if I weren’t there.