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Design Research: Observing Rail Life

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  • Qualitative research in the design process

    I am currently pursuing my Masters in Interaction Design, learning how research can affect the design process. In this qualitative research class, we were asked to select an observable public space to research. The methods used were observation and interviews. I chose to focus on the new Phoenix Light Rail system. The goal was to apply the findings from this research to a product proposal that addresses an unmet need of the people in this environment.
  • In our mock client presentation, our job was to make a case why this project had merit.
  • An overview of methods and tools. Simplicity is key.
  • Artifacts and activities were catalogued in the observation process, then analyzed and categorized. These four categories describe the types of people riding the light rail at any given time. Giving them a human face helps the client understand who they are dealing with.
  • Analysis of the flow through the space, highlighting problem areas of the process.
  • This scan and pan video is an effective way to tell the story of one type of rider and his struggles.
  • Quote from an interview with this rider type. The pieces found lead to a possible product proposal meeting the needs of this rider.
  • The final product proposal: a smartphone application that indicates what stop the rider is at, using push notifications. It would also let the rider know what major attractions or activities could be found around any given stop.