Design is all about understanding problems and finding solutions. It is very important for any designer to understand the problems, needs of user group and then think for innovative and creative solutions. For giving close eyes on problems & needs of user, designers perform user research. One gets great qualitative insights from user research if designer (performing the research) observes in a better way. A good designer always has good observation skills.
What is Observation?
By definition observation is “the action or process of closely observing or monitoring something or someone”. In user research observation is monitoring each user action, steps, working environment, user’s behavior, motivation etc. Observation is silent process and interviewing is different from observation. We perform both activities while user interviews. Observation may open some great insightful information which any participant may not say in interview.
Many researchers go out in market or shop or play ground or public transport or cafeteria or streets etc. and spend some time there for observing people and their behavior. This kind of observation opens lots of problems in our system like problems in bus stops, public transport, market parking problems etc. Also opens good designs in our systems. If you want to be a researcher then I think you should also try for this. Take pen & notebook and come out in real world to observe people, go to near-by market or railway station or any shop and start observing. Take notes and analyze your observation points.
Why is it important in design?
Observation helps in understanding about User, their working environment, their process, how they interact, how product is being used.
Good Design & Bad Design
Good design and Bad design is an activity for improving observation skills. This we do in our team weekly, where each team members come up with at least 5 examples of good design & bad design each. These examples can be from anything like any service, any artifact, any nearby object, website, mobile app etc. This activity improves the observation skills and helps in looking world from a researchers view.
Try this activity within your team and see some amazing examples of good and bad design.
Abhishek Jain (@uxdabhi)