What We Do
This week we focused on the topic of user research. During studio, to give us a sense of user research, we were assigned to observe practices at different sites on campus. Our group did 15 minutes quick observation on the hub. After collecting all information, TA asked us to identify one practice which we can see the design opportunities in the future. Sarah and Monica gave us a new idea of “multitasking” which gave us a great inspiration and realized that the first presentation on possible research direction shouldn’t be too specific because all the information were collected from a quick observation. Absorbing skills from the studio, I started my first user research, especially observation on the No.75 bus. I chose to do research on the bus because it is one of the most common transportations that people will use in daily life. On the bus, I was able to take a close observation on passengers and wrote down their behaviors with words’ description and quick sketches. To enrich the bus system, I identified one practice which worth further investigation and also the possible future research direction.

We are discussing the possible future design for HUB
We are making the presentation

The Question I Want to Ask
During the observing process, I kept questioning myself was that okay for me to observed passengers’ behaviors without asking for their permissions. I felt guilty when I wrote a jotting for a lady I observed. I wrote, “an obese lady gets off the car slowly from the front door, and the people wait in a line outside until she gets off of the bus.” I have no mean to offend this lady; however, I feel like I did and made me feel even worse by doing all the observations without her permission. Therefore, I did not attach this jotting as the appendix. It was my first user research, and it won’t be the last time. So I wonder how did the professional user researchers collect information from the people?

User Research Plays an Important Role
The technique that finding problems by observing people’s practices can be applied to any projects that relate to human experience. Since the user research is a way to enrich products by understanding users’ need, the project which human experience matter need to conduct a user research. For example, to know whether the new vending machines reach users’ need or not, the company can do a survey with several questions and ask multiple users for their feedbacks. The company prepares gifts for the users who take the exam to encourage more people to take the survey. Designers can make adjustments on the machines based on those feedbacks. However, one thing might not be appropriate might be the reward system. The reward system might affect the creditability for the survey because some users won’t answer honestly to get more benefits. Despite the unstable factor, user research is a good method to understand users’ need and motivation.