A great experiment for designers on pattern observation.
Pattern, Pattern, Pattern, Design
The process leading up to great "Interaction Design" is largely based on the fine and subtle art of observation then recording data. The most significant thing that interactive media, design or content specialist needs to realize is... That much of the job revolves around the behavioral psychology of how people interact with technology, products, services, and interfaces.
The more we can understand the way people do things utilizing modern technology, the easier it is for designers such as myself to design an incredible product, service, interface, campaign, etc.
The critical thing interactive experts look for in observing how people interact with technology is repeating patterns. Patterns are a great tool for us to learn, record and build analytics that is then handed off to designers to create.
Recently I got to do a little experiment where I and a set of partners observed people in a local public space and how they used technology or lack thereof.
Now I am going to break down the steps of how I approached this experiment what my findings were and what I learned in this process.
Getting the tools... First thing I had to do was get the tools I needed to experiment correctly. I chose to go with cue cards. (Let's just say it's are more accessible just to grab cue cars when working a restricted deadline then it is to rely on Amazon to deliver to you.)
I'd like to add I'm still waiting on my cue cards and in the end I ended up going with sticky notes.
Coordinating with my partners to set a schedule... Once we had the tools, we needed to record the data. It was time to move on into the second phase... Setting up a time for observation with my "lab" partners...
Given the particular experiment required me to work with another person it was a little confusing to coordinate both our busy schedules to find the time where we could sit down and watch people interact with technology however after a bit of work, but we got the time and made it work.
So the three of us sat down at the table, tea in one hand pen and notebook in the other. We started getting to work. It was awkward at first the thought of creepily watching some people recording their data and how they interacted with technology. Now looking back at it I would say that in a word it was uncomfortable, for them and us to say the least.
I mean seriously none of us like to be watched without permission. Especially if that means being recorded why some stranger is staring at us intensely. However, experiments are never easy neither for the test subject or the test giver.
One of the things that we had to think about was looking objectively at strangers. Which stated above I was really uncomfortable doing. I would have much rather videotaped them randomly and anonymously followed by watching the recorded the information in the comfortable sitting room that is my apartment. Followed by deleting the video after getting detailed results. Protecting their privacy and mine as any decent person should do!
Now that we have gone through all the observation, now that we had recorded our information on to our trusty cue cards/ sticky notes. It was time to bring our findings to the table with the other groups holding their experiments and lay them all out neatly on a table. This way we can all see the patterns that we had observed together as a collective on how people in 2018 were using technology. We could see what technology resonated the most with the group's findings and what technology was quickly becoming obsolete with time.
And so like ducks in a row, we circled the table looking at each other's findings. We had all written neatly (or more honestly given my own penmanship not so legibly.) On the cue cards...
Afterwards, we done broke off into groups assigned to different patterns to collect from our shared findings. Some of us took a look at patterns regarding selfies; others took a look at patterns regarding laptops, tablets and so on. After finding those larger patterns, we then looked at the smaller models within, the larger groups.Two people were designated to recording the findings, along with the numbers attached and how many people had found similar results.
Once we had one set of findings we were there off to find another and another and another finally once all the patterns and findings were recorded, they're plugged into an Excel sheet, and we moved on to the last and final phase.
We ended up electing a speaker to share the collected findings. He then spoke of what we had all found and how he had broken it down into various groups and subcategories.
Conclusion of this experiment... We ended up writing a brief survey of what we experienced as observers of humans and technology. Regarding the behavioral patterns of each, what we felt, what we feel like we could have done better, how we would have approached the situation second time, etc.
My final thoughts... In my opinion, there are countless patterns out there, if you were to conduct this experiment of accordingly and correctly a second time. You would need far more time in a far more elaborate environment to get better findings. We would need to be more specific about the words we used to define the exact patterns. Take a look at an extended time throughout an ongoing basis of people and how they engage with technology. Information acts as the foundation, after all, you can't design something efficiently if you have no idea who you are designing toward. This experiment taught me one thing above all others. To be good in this industry...scratch that to be great at what you do in this industry.
You need to separate yourself and look at the facts. Look at the traits of the people your designing for. What works, what doesn't, and see how many people it works for. I hope be you designer, student or just avid reader you find this post helpful.
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