Sprint Deliverable — Memo + Data Appendices

Why I wrote & drew over the Bus Stop

For this User Research, I chose my location for observations to be over the bus stop in front of University Kitchen Restaurant on University Ave. I picked bus stops because this is the most prevalent and reachable transportation for me as a UW Student. I am also very interested and willing to explore the potential challenges in practices within bus commuting. In addition, I carefully picked this location because this is one of the most populated stops on a Saturday evening.

Since this research’s purpose is to observe the behaviors of people in a commuting place, the number of people is on top of my priority when choosing a location.

In terms of field notes, I did multiple pages of jottings along with words and explanatory drawings on my yellow studio sketch book. First, I put down the date, time and location of my observation. Then, I tried to write down the sensory impressions of what I have found and my personal reactions to these practices. If I found a potential problematic practice, I would highlight its notes with a star. I also tried to capture everything I had observed and record the practices in the order of time. I would mark the current time on the very left side, the words in the middle and drawings on the right side. In this way, I have a clear understanding of what happened first and how the messy notes are related to the sketches. When I am composing and summarizing a formal report, this form of jottings along with illustrative pictures effectively helps me to go back and recall what I had observed.

Three Practices
  1. Three Practices (150–250 words each): Identify three practices from your observations, and describe each in a way that makes the practice come alive for the reader. What is the practice, who did you see do it, how was it done, how did it interact with the place?
When would the bus arrive?

During this observation, I realized that everyone was constantly trying to find out when the bus would arrive exactly and some even had trouble doing so. First, I observed a couple both in their 20s and a group of friends around 22 attempted to find out the time of their buses. They simply sat in the bus stop, pulled out their cellphones and checked the “One bus away” app for the exact time.

Then, two Chinese girls who looked like UW students walked by and stopped over the bus stop. They talked and tried to find out when the 45 bus would arrive, so they could decide to bus or walk to the Boba place. First, they looked around and tried to find signs that indicate when the bus would arrive. Nonetheless, they did not find anything useful or know about this app. Therefore, they simply stood few meters from the bus stop, waited there for few minutes and left with frustration.

After 10 minutes, an old man and woman around 60s who are not familiar with technology came and only silently waited under the bus sign till their bus had arrived.

It was very difficult for these people who did not have this kind of app or even use this kind of complicated phone device to know the exact time of when their bus would come.

The empty seat

The bus stop has a unique design where its seats are positioned facing each other on two sides. One seat faces the direction where the bus will be coming. The other one faces the direction where the bus will be heading. During my observation, I found out that people rarely chose the seat against the direction where the bus will be coming. Instead, people are more willing to sit toward the direction where the bus is coming and be aware of the situation.

Here is the note of the young man at 6:29.

At 6:29, a young man arrived and looked for seats. He realized that the seat toward the coming direction was already full. He simply walked toward the opposite seat. However, he did not sit down. He stood against, stepped one feet on top of the seat and faced toward the incoming direction of the bus. He was constantly looking up through the glass window and checking if the bus had arrived.

At 6:34, an old man who were holding two grocery bags in both hands came over. First, he looked around for seats, since he was holding some heavy stuff. However, the seat that faces the incoming direction of the bus was already full. The seat on the opposite side was still empty. I expected him to sit down there and put down his bags. Surprisingly, he just chose to not sit and stood till his bus had arrived.

How people waited

During this observation, I found out during waiting many people often did stuff that did not require much of their attention. Some people were listening to music but they rarely checked their phones. At 6:18, a man waited and put on his headphones. He just looked up to the road toward direction of the bus and silently stood under the bus sign outside till his bus had arrived. At 6:40, another man around his 30s came over and sat over the seat on the right. He was thinking about life and looking far to the same direction. He stood up and ran to his bus when he noticed that his bus had arrived.

Other people who were not alone did not listen to music but chatted with each other. At 6:38, two other people who looked like UW students simply sat on the seat on the left together and chatted with each other. Two of them occupied the whole seat. They were laughing the jokes on their phones. At 6:48, an old couple slowly walked out from the restaurant into the bus stop. They looked around for seats and found the seat on the right. They just held each other’s hands and communicated with each other. At the same time, they also constantly looked up to the direction of their buses.

An Interesting practice & its challenge

From this observation, I identify the practice of people constantly struggling to check the time as the most interesting one worth further investigation. After knowing the practice, I was constantly brainstorming how I could solve this problem. A big challenge with solving this problem is to reach all variations of users with different abilities. For instance, the “One Bus Away” app could solve this problem somehow. However, it is only reachable for a small group of people. Many old people and some from other places still have trouble getting to know the exact time of their buses. What is more, it is also not accessible for people with disabilities including many blind people.

A possible future research that could be done is to conduct multiple user researches and even ethnographic studies on different kinds of commuters at bus stops. Getting to know all variations of users and identify their individual needs is always essential to solve a design challenge as a UX designer. For this specific goal, I would research a group of blind people, old people and those who do not have access to high-end phones from Seattle areas. Afterwards, I would integrate their different needs, take all users into consideration and produce a compromising solution for this challenge.

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