Thoughts on User Research

The human memory is not reliable. As long as it is triggered for a specific incident the information obtained cannot be relied upon. If asked what one generally has for breakfast the information thus obtained would be unreliable but a better question would be asking someone what they had for breakfast today or yesterday. One would probably have a better answer to the latter question compared to the first one.

User research is all about asking the right questions and observing things in the field as they are, without bringing our biases into play.  Bringing ones biases during the information collection leads to inaccurate data.

The topic we chose was information systems at inter city bus stations. The problem dealt with finding whether people  really had a problem finding their bus. Most of our assumptions turned out to be wrong in this process of data collection. For two days we shadowed strangers at the Bangalore city bus station, capturing their movements. We set up certain parameters for ourselves which would help us determine  the kind of people who come there. Depending on these parameters we were able to determine certain behavior patterns which were common among the people who came there.

Depending on these behavior patterns we were able to determine Personae and analyze what kind of problems each persona faces. These problems were addressed first with structural solutions which dealt with a slight change in the system. The other set of solutions dealt with creating a behavioral change in the person.

Overall the course was extremely hectic but very interesting. Determining personas was the most interesting thing during the course. One thing I learnt from this entire module was that its better not to have any likes and dislikes if one wishes to collect data. Also I have started catching myself every time I use maybe, most of them, more or less, generally, could should etc.


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