User Research: Cleaning

Through this weeks sprint my colleagues and I began to take a closer look into the use of user research. The idea behind user research is to identify opportunities for design such as studying user practices in context in order to find opportunities for a new design or to refine a design. Applying the knowledge of user research it gives not only designers but almost all professions the knowledge to understand their user groups.

What did we do?

When beginning this project I had a difficult time choosing the exact location I would be observing. Initially I wanted to observe my mom at work within my own household but then second guessed this because I felt the observations would be bias. After putting some thought into my location I decided on my residential hall, Alder. Every morning a group of cleaning staff comes in to clean the kitchens, lounges, bathrooms and so forth. While observing this group I took notes on what their cleaning task were, how they chose to complete it and the emotion that was shown on their face. Using these observations it brought me to wonder why they chose to use these cleaning techniques and if there were easier ways to complete their tasks.

Personal Experience

When beginning this task I must say I felt slightly uncomfortable staring at a random group of people and taking notes. I knew if I had told them they were being observed there actions would not stay consistent to their normal routine, so I kept observing. Truth be told I think user research is a whole lot easier said than done. When learning about this practice I figured it would be a piece of cake but was shocked to find out how awkward it was. Observing people is definitely not one of my strong suits and I give so much props to those who can complete an awkward task so easily.

Would you participate in User Research again?

After this experience I personally do not think I could participate in user research again. It was overall an uncomfortable task and not something I felt super comfortable doing. I felt I was invading this cleaning staff’s privacy by observing them without their permission. At the end of the day I knew not telling them would be the only effective way of getting accurate observations but it didn’t make me any less uncomfortable. If the roles were reversed and I were being observed I feel it wouldn’t be as bad but I don’t think I personally would want to conduct an observation myself again.

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