HCDE 210// User Research

Introduction in studio session:
The fifth studio session involved learning about user research and the importance of understanding why we do user research. When I think of observation, the first thing that comes to mind is seeing what people do in their everyday life. Learning about how user research is more about the person but also the place and practices and most importantly the interactions among all three made me really think about the importance of observation: In order to make sure that our design is fulfilling everything we want it to achieve, we need to fully understand what the people are doing (their interaction and practices) and also WHY they are doing the certain practices. We were given to task to go out and observe anything that related to commuting: I chose the bus station because so many different activities happen there and it was a broad area; it was also a place where I was familiar with since I commute using the bus. During observation, I started jotting down notes in a bullet point style which was very unspecific but as I kept writing notes, my notes started getting more and more specific such as the certain practices the people did (such as removing their earphones when getting on the bus) I wanted to get more specific with my notes because I wanted to see what unusual behavior was happening at the bus stops.

Practicing observation during session to get a better idea of how observations work in the field
First page of notes during the observation: I used tallying as a jotting method to keep track of how many times the specific practice happened

Reflection on my experience with user research:
Looking back, one thing I would have done differently is specifying what I wanted to observe. In this exercise it was a bit difficult because there are so many things that could happen at a bus station, but next time if I were to focus on a specific target such as biking commuters at a bus stop or commuters with disabilities, it would allow me to focus more on making necessary components that cater to the specific group. I would also like to explore different jotting methods because the method I decided was bullet points and tallying whenever something happened multiple times, but I feel like there are much more efficient methods that will allow me to remember specific details. A specific example was when I wrote down in my notes that the bus driver attempted to help the biker mount his bike onto the bus from within the bus: when writing all this information down, it made me miss other practices that was going around me. Exploring different jotting methods will allow me to write better and more observations.

Using this to better my works in the future:
In the future, I see myself using this experience to enhance and set a good starting point in every project I come across: Before this studio session, I didn’t realize how important just sitting back and observing the situation and everything around you is. It’s easy to come across road blocks in your thoughts when you’re trying to come up with ideas for prototypes and brainstorming but it is so much easier to digest and relate to the prototype you’re catering to when you can visually see and understand everything that’s going on around you. If I hadn’t learned to observe and see what the users are doing with a specific setting or situation, there would be more instances where I am unable to create a project where I fully understand what the users need from my prototype as well as understanding why it’s important to implement specific components.

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