User research for new discovery

In this week, we studied how to conduct a user research. From lecture, we learned more than one way of practicing user research methods, for example, observation, interview, survey and trace data. He defined user research as “concerned with people, places, practices, and interactions between people and things”. During studio, we went to the HUB to conduct practice observation on people and their behavior. We first tried to find what’s interesting and then wrote it in the sketchbook which is also called field jotting. The main reason that we did this is to help us to reflect on the surroundings. Reflexivity is especially importation for researchers and designers because it helps researchers to build the context of knowledge, and improve research process.

During the observation, I found it really hard to describe people’s behavior. For example, I went to the Starbucks in the HUB and trying to discover people’s behavior when they are ordering. However, they all had different behaviors. Some people would point at the new drink that the Starbucks just released, some people put a lot of requirements in their coffee, and some people just order regular coffee. In the future, I will define what kind of things I want to observe instead of just went there and see what I can get.

Observation on waiting in Starbucks
People’s choice on coffee

In the future, product designers will be really interested in user research. By conducting user research, it is easier to see what things are confusing people, and what items are inconvenient for users to use. User research is appropriate for ideation, investigation, evaluation, and prototyping. While conducting user research, researchers and designers have a clearer idea about their target users and the function of their future product. However, user research is not appropriate for producing, since user research is more like an investigation: trying to discover users’ behavior. Using the field trip we made during studio as an example, I discovered people’s ways of ordering are different, and almost nobody pre-ordered a cup of coffee. From this observation, I think Starbucks needs another way to promote the pre-order function.

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