User Research: How to watch people and things?

This week in studio we worked on the process of user research. We discussed how user research is concerned with people, places, practices and interactions between people and things. So we began by looking and interpreting different practices users perform. We were taught five different elements to look for when conducting user research, “(1) physical and mental activities of human bodies, (2) the material environment, (3) artifacts and their use, (4) contexts, and (5) human capabilities, affinities and motivation.” We practiced building different practices for users and then took that to the field. We went to the University of Washington hub and conducted about twenty minutes of user research. We took field jottings about people doing different practices around the hub. We then took these jottings and shared popular/common practices that we observed. We then were able to make a design questions based on the practices we identified.

Field Jottings: UW Hub
Practicing observing practices

People watching is fun

I found this practice very interesting because we were able to go into the field and collect notes. I thought it could be challenging to get five pages of field jottings in thirty minutes of observing, however it was surprising how many unique interactions happen on a bus which made it quite easy. I’m excited to combine the process of user research with the other sprint topics, so we can now begin the next process of ideation.

Research is useful

Conducting user research is very important when designing, but I believe that it is a general technique that can be used in many ways. I can see the techniques I learned this week helping me in the future when I need to conduct research for a topic or paper. These techniques will help me collect the information that is needed to start a project or paper that requires some research. I can see these techniques allowing me to collect more and better information on certain topics.