User Research

While learning about User Research I felt, that this Assignment is going to be difficult and hard to understand and deliver on. “Commuting” was a straightforward act for me, and I didn’t think that people did many different things while waiting for the bus. So, I roamed around the bus stops next to Alder Hall, Elm Hall and Poplar Hall. I decided to take multiple bus stops as this allowed me to take data from different perspectives.

I walked around the Elm Bus stop, looked at people, took a couple of photographs and then just stood there observing and jotting my observations down. The first thing I observed where the phones, to keep my entries more detailed, I shrugged it aside and jotted down other details and did not delve deeper into the people on the phones. I then moved towards Poplar Hall, there was no one waiting at the stop at that time, so I moved on to Alder Hall. Alder has two bus stops in front of it, so I decided that I will stay and observe here for a while. Noticing the large number of people, I stumbled upon my first interesting observation, the bags. Nearly everybody had some sort of a bag. I decided to board a bus, and look into this act of “commuting” for a hands-on experience. So, I travelled to Fremont and back. Noticing small things that people did. I was interested in the large number of people travelling in groups.

I took upon the field notebook again on the Tuesday evening, to complete my last pages. I started at Alder this time and noticed that my first interesting practice, is being followed. It was here that I realized just how many people were on their phones, at certain times all the people around the bus stop were on their phones. So, I decided to make it an interesting observation. Not entirely because of how interesting it was but rather for the scale at which it was being practiced. I then decided to go to the Elm bus stop, on my way there I noticed a bike on the front of the bus and realized this was my third and most interesting observation. I chose this because I hadn’t seen anything like this in the cities where I had lived in, before Seattle.

I think this exercise really made me think of the little details of everyday life and the part of the world that is in front of us and we don’t interact with. I think this is a very important tool for design as it allows us to see how the user interacts with an object or service at a specific place. I felt this specifically for the bike-rack, as this to me seemed to signify the difference that a change in place plays. In India, we do not have bike-racks anywhere in the country, but we have Air-conditioned buses. The bike racks seem to signify how differently people use the same service.

I think that this can be applied to nearly any design process. I can see myself generating new ideas from this kind of research. I feel that this process can also help me come up with solutions for problems, that I might be facing while designing. Taking small details from day to day life to include in design can help make a smoother and happier experience for the user. I really enjoyed seeking small details in day to day life as it allowed me to see without my lenses and just observing, what people do.

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