Better Hiking in Burnet
Getting to Know the Problem
Together, we researched the existing information on Burnet woods. We were able to find a short page on the Cincinnati parks website which gave information on the park. This page gives extensive information about the park including its location, its features, and its amenities. We also discovered the map of burnet woods. We also decided to visit the park for ourselves. We drove around the park for a while and also had the chance to walk around several parts of the park to get a grasp on the whole experience.
When visiting the park, we drove into one of the entrances off of Martin Luther King. Shortly after entering, we came to a fork in the road. One of the paths was blocked off so we proceeded to guess which direction seemed best because there were no signs guiding us. The path we chose ended up taking us directly out of the park, causing us to have to drive all around the park to find another entrance. We finally discovered a place to park our car. We weren’t able to find signs to direct us anywhere. We ended up walking around for a period of time in one location and getting frustrated because we could not figure out where to even begin. Several times, we got back in the car and drove out of the park and back in another entrance because we found that to be the only way to navigate the park. Eventually, we discovered what seemed to be the only map in the entire park, but at that point it was too late.
Some human factors that are involved for this study are cognitive, cultural, physical and social. Cognitive plays a role due to the fact that we must think about how easy signage and information is to understand for the users of the woods. Cultural because of the fact that people who speak different languages may be in the woods and need signage to help them get around. Physical, due to the fact that we must think about the physical ability each hiker may or may not have while visiting the woods. Social plays a role as well because as people gather at public places such as parks, like Burnet Woods, there will inevitably human interactions and socialization.
When visiting Burnet Woods, we started by walking around and observing our surroundings. While walking around, we took photographs and notes whenever we felt confused or lost in order to determine which parts of the park need some sort of signage for the public to use. Another observation method our group used was looking at what type of people we saw walking around the park such as differing ages of hikers. We came across a park and met a little girl named Charlotte and asked her a few questions regarding the park that her and her family visited often.
During our walk around Burnet Woods, we thought about all the different people who may be using the space. Little kids who come to the park with their families may get lost and need signs that they are able to understand, such as signs with icons. Older hikers may need signage with a bigger and bolder typeface due to the fact they cannot see as well. Signage stating the difficulty of each trail would be beneficial for hikers who are not very familiar with hiking so they could find a trail that fits their skill level. This type of signage would help skilled hikers find a trail that is more exciting for them in order to enjoy their visit more.
Primary and Secondary Users
The primary users for Burnet Woods would be hikers and families who visit the park and use the facilities. These people are the ones who would need proper signage the most. Secondary users would be managers, landscapers, and staff of Burnet Woods because they are there to provide a better experience for the primary users.
Potential Concept Solutions
How can our concepts: help visitors navigate Burnet Woods? Help visitors have an easier experience hiking around Burnet Woods? Grab visitors attention without taking away from the environment of Burnet Woods? Effectively communicate how to navigate Burnet Woods to visitors of all ages? Effectively explain the layout of Burnet Woods to hikers of different levels (beginners-experts)?
Concept One. Better Signage.
The problem: One of the biggest problems we faced when navigating Burnet Woods was how to even enter the park.
The solution: By simply improving the signage and wayfinding of Burnet Woods, hikers, whether families or individuals, will have an easier and quicker time figuring out where they should go.
Concept Two. Burnet Woods App.
The problem: After talking to a little girl who came to Burnet Woods to play with her family, she explained to us how they have a difficult time locating trails and different walking paths within the park. One reason they have difficulty is because of the lack of signs pointing out each one.
The solution: We decided to take signage to the next level and come up with a concept that involved creating an app that highlights the different trails within Burnet Woods. The app will explain each trails level of difficulty, distance, and how long it would take to walk it. It will also highlight the location of the starting point of the trail and how to get there.
User Tester Method
We would recommend using the concept of the Burnet Woods App. A potential user testing method to test this app out would be having a variety of people, pairs, and families take a trip to Burnet Woods and try out the app. With a diverse group of people of all ages, it might help to prove if an app would actually benefit visitors’ experiences to Burnet Woods. We prefer this method because it would helpful in many different respects, such as locating different trails, seeing the distance of each one, and how long each one will take. It will help hikers, and visitors determine which path they want to take, and it will inform them about what they are getting into when deciding a trail. The testing results could demonstrate if the app would be beneficial.
Knowledge Gained from Process
Through the process of visiting Burnet Woods, walking around for an hour or so, observing the signage and how people were using the park in different ways to interact, we learned a few different things. First and foremost, when we arrived we came through the entrance that was very scarcely labeled. It had very few signs that directed us around the area so we were somewhat stumped at first with how to get to other side of the park. Eventually, we left that area and started over by entering through a different side. We saw one main sign that said Burnet Woods so we figured that this was the main entrance. Once parked, we walked around for awhile and just observed what was happening around us. It was a nice Sunday night so there were a decent amount of people do various activities. A four-year-old girl, Charlotte, came up to us and began playing on the playset. We were able to have a very nice, cute conversation with her. She explained to us (with her best ability) that she and her family came here quite often to have picnics and family gatherings. Though she was young, we figured we would attempt to ask her what she thought about the park and if she/her family ever had trouble finding their way around. With her little experience, she mentioned that she never really recognized the signs around the park. With this, we learned that the biggest problem with Burnet Woods was definitely the signage and directions.
Evolution of the Problem
The problem/our hypothesis of the problem remained somewhat unaltered throughout our visit. If anything, it became more and more clear that the lack of clear signage was definitely a problem. After talking to visitors, and Charlotte, we realized that a lack of directions around the park wasn’t just a problem that we were facing but that other families and individuals had come across too.
Hindsight- A Different Approach?
If we were to go back and do anything differently, I believe that maybe we would investigate more into different ways people would benefit from higher quality signage. For example, what would help people during their experience at Burnet Woods? If we specifically asked them what they would hope to see be improved about Burnett Woods, maybe we would have a more well-rounded perspective on what concepts and solutions a variety of people might have. Though we did talk to some people and asked their opinions, we never got too specific on the possible solutions.
We would give our group our nine. We made a trip to Burnet and walked around for a while, talked to other visitors. We then talked through our experience, produced concept sketches. Overall, our process seemed to be quite thorough.