We were tasked with conducting individual real-life user research in the field. The “product” or “object” in discussion was either a bus stop or a food market, of our own choice. In order to accomplish this, we went over the decisions and challenges that came along with acquiring such data, for example, taking down appropriate and useful field notes. We also went over a couple examples than elaborated on the topic of choosing the right setting along with the target users, the “P-cubed heuristic”. This was largely helpful as it gave me a decent idea of where and on what I wanted to conduct my observations. Once at the place of research, it was important to observe each and every trend, action and reaction of the users, and take respective field notes, which were later narrowed down to the three most important “practices”.
My observations and analyses: https://drive.google.com/a/uw.edu/file/d/0B8i2JcoLn1xWajZnNkc0MjNYdTQ/view?usp=sharing
Problems along the way:
The major problems that I encountered was at the food market (my chosen setting) in terms of keeping my eyes open in every direction and observing each little thing that the users did. This was challenging to follow as I spent more time writing stuff down rather than actually observing the, somewhat less obvious trends, which would have given me a greater insight. This observational work also required remaining incognito which was kind of a challenge as I kept walking by the same users quite a few times.
Wildcard: What skills did you learn from this project?
One of the most important skills that I learned was acting, not in the conventional sense, but with the goal of remaining unnoticed, as walking around a food market with a notebook raises a few eyebrows. I also conducted few impromptu interviews as a couple people came up to me and asked me about my research, which gave me a little more experience of how to converse with people in such situations.
After entering the food market, it was kind of hard to follow my notes and look for certain trends as the market was flooding and there were a lot of people. Therefore, I decided to place targets on certain users, for example, a group of college students, and followed them around whilst still remaining incognito in order to get specialized and accurate data. This was massively important, because had I not followed this method, my field notes would have resulted in a mess, with actions from every random person in the food market. Therefore, setting a particular target not, in turn helped me organize my field notes as well as got me important and relevant data, from which I could point out trends and behaviors of certain user groups in certain situations.