User Research

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Observation Station

For this week’s deliverable, I practiced observing “users” utilize a bus stop. This involved objectively taking notes while keeping a mind on possible design opportunities. In gathering this information, I could then proceed to build off how people interact within the given environment to identify challenges and areas for improvement and then subsequently come up with designs that then directly cater to the user. This was the general idea behind my metacognition for this user research project. The area I chose to observe was the bus stops in front of the District Market on West Campus at UW. While patiently observing, I came up with three different common practices that I observed and then elaborated on each one in detail. Some of the observation techniques I used include the P³ approach of People, Practice, and Place, and the concept of reflexivity. Doing so helped me make connections to possible design ideas for the space that could improve the overall function.

left: my obesrvation station / right: viewing angle

Personal Thoughts

I personally believe that user research is an extremely effective tool in helping solve problems in general. User research done well can efficiently locate areas for improvement first-hand since it deals with what matters for the design in the end: how users respond to it. For me, the basic practice of observation in user research is an activity that I can participate in anywhere. For example, when just standing around in a line for food I sometimes look around and think about how spaces and interactions could be designed better. User research is way for me to utilize my imagination in a way that also utilizes critical thinking.

Future Experiences

I can incorporate the user research style of jotting observations whenever I want to come up with a general picture of what aspects can be improved whether that be for an app, space, or product. User research can improve the user experience for many things overall as a whole. More conceptual projects or ones that don’t involve the user directly enough might not benefit as much from user research. For most projects however, user research is an extremely useful tool. I have practiced user research before, but this project helped solidify some techniques that I can use to become better at it.

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