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UCB BearWalk Booth

College student safety solved with design research

In this project, I worked with two other designers (Amy Gil and Miles Peterson) to identify an issue, conduct primary and secondary research, recruit test plan participants, extract insights, and design and test a solution idea.

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Project:

Find and research an unmet user need and recommend a design solution to pursue

Tools:

Mural, Google Drive, Figma, ProCreate, Photoshop

Skills:

Secondary research, primary research, interviewing, concept testing, storyboarding, user testing, personas, journey maps, insight extraction

Course:

Design Research; Purvi Shah

Duration:

9 weeks; March 2021 - May 2021

Brainstorming
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Double Diamond figure

This project took us through the double-diamond design process. The image above marks the key deliverables we produced throughout each stage.

My team started out by listing all the various issues we cared about and wanted to explore further in "How might we" statements. We voted on our favorites in Mural and explored a few ideas before committing to college student safety.

Skip to chosen idea's process.

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Group HMW brainstorm 1; Mural

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Group HMW brainstorm 2; Mural

Idea 1: Environmental Racism

The initial issue we wanted to tackle was environmental racism. We all agreed it was incredibly important and none of us knew too much about it so we thought it would be interesting to learn about. We did some secondary research, generated some ideas, and then tried to frame this topic as a design challenge. 

Environmental Racism Links and Sources

Environmental racism links and sources; Mural

Environmental Racism Target Audience

Environmental racism target audience; Mural

Environmental Racism Design Inspirations
Environmental Racism Problems

Environmental racism problems; Mural

Environmental Racism Solutions

Environmental racism solutions; Mural

Environmental Racism Frame Your Design Challenge

Environmental racism Frame Your Design Challenge; Mural

Environmental racism design inspirations; Mural

To get a clearer idea of what our project could look like if we continued in this direction, we wrote up some screener questions for possible interviewees. The ideal participant we were looking for would have been someone who had experienced environmental racism or was at least knowledgeable about it.

Environmental racism screener survey; Google Docs

Idea 2: Light Therapy

The second topic we were interested in was the idea of light therapy as a means to combat seasonal depression. We repeated a similar process to the environmental racism breakdown in Mural shown below.

Light therapy links and sources

Light therapy links and sources; Mural

Light therapy target audience

Light therapy target audience; Mural

Light therapy design inspirations

Light therapy design inspirations; Mural

Light therapy problems

Light therapy problems; Mural

Light therapy solutions

Light therapy solutions; Mural

Light therapy Frame Your Design Challenge

Light therapy Frame Your Design Challenge; Mural

Just like in the previous topic, we wrote some screening questions for possible test participants. With this set of questions, we made it explicit to ourselves which answers we'd accept and which we'd reject. The ideal participant would have been someone who didn't get much sunlight because they don't go out much or simply lives someplace that doesn't get many hours of daylight. We were also exploring how the pandemic could have affected the amount of sunlight people get, so the idea of light therapy then shifted into mental health during quarantine.

Just like in the previous topic, we wrote some screening questions for possible test participants. With this set of questions, we made it explicit to ourselves which answers we'd accept and which we'd reject. The ideal participant would have been someone who didn't get much sunlight because they don't go out much or simply lives someplace that doesn't get many hours of daylight. We were also exploring how the pandemic could have affected the amount of sunlight people get, so the idea of light therapy then shifted into mental health during quarantine.

Light therapy screener survey; Google Docs

Reddit recruitment post

Reddit recruitment post

Even though this wasn't the final idea we chose to move forward with, we got some interesting answers from the survey. Below is the data we collected: 

Light therapy screener survey responses; Google Forms

In addition to the research extractions and screening survey, we drafted a research plan detailing the research objective, questions, a summary of background and secondary research, participant requirements, and discussion guide.

Light therapy research plan; Google Docs

Idea 3: College student safety

The final subject we explored was the issue of women's safety while out at night, and was ultimately the one we found participants to interview for and were able to progress with. The idea narrowed down to college students after our research and then specifically UC Berkeley student safety after moving even further along with the idea.

Before we settled on this though, we weighed the pros and cons of the other topics. We realized that the light therapy idea was heavily biased and problematic as it was starting with a solution without fully recognizing the problem. The purpose of the double diamond design research process was to solve for a problem, not to mold a "solution" to fit one, so we had to throw that out. 

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Environmental racism pros and cons; Mural

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The biggest issue with environmental racism as our topic was that recruiting participants would be difficult. We took this class during the pandemic so the interviews would have to be conducted remotely, and the people most affected by environmental racism would probably be the least likely to even have access to the internet.

This was why we ultimately chose college student safety.

College student safety pros and cons; Mural

 

How Might We help UC Berkeley students travel to and from campus safely?

 
Secondary Research

Through secondary research on women's safety while out at night and the insights we collected from it, we moved forward with the HMW statement above. 

Mural Brainstorm

The image on the right is a compilation of the sources we looked at and shared with each other. We started broad and researched women's safety in general, street harassment, sexual assault on college campuses, and then finally specific details about UC Berkeley's approach to this issue. We chose UCB as the campus to target as it is close to CCA so we knew we'd find people to interview, and it is a large campus in what is colloquially considered a sketchy area.

College student safety problems

College student safety problems; Mural

College student safety target audience

College student safety target audience; Mural

College student safety Frame Your Design Challenge
College student safety links and sources

College student safety links and sources; Mural

College student safety solutions

College student safety solutions; Mural

College student safety design inspirations

College student safety design inspirations; Mural

College student safety Frame Your Design Challenge; Mural

Secondary Research Insights

We compiled the more relevant sources and wrote short summaries for them so we'd know where to go if we needed to reference something. These were some of the main insights we collected from our research:

  • The perceived fear women have of possible sexual harassment/assault in public at night is much higher than the actual number of reported assaults within this context; regardless, the fear of violence controls women's use (or lack thereof) of public spaces

  • The safety measures most colleges have in place are inefficient; a safety escort or shuttle demands students wait a period of time, leaving them exposed to danger

  • Current precautions taken by students include mace/pepper spray, walking in groups, and self-defense courses

  • The chance of being a victim of a violent crime in Berkeley is 1 in 171

  • Berkeley's crimes per square mile is 750; California as a whole is 83; the U.S. national median is 28.3

Secondary research summaries; Google Docs

 
 
Primary Research
Screener Survey

The next phase of this project was to conduct primary research, and to do that we had to recruit interviewees. To filter out the participants we didn't think we could interview, we wrote up some screener questions. The type of interviewee we were looking for was someone who could attest to the experiences of women on UC Berkeley's campus at night.

Screener questions survey; Google Docs

We put this screening survey in a Google Form and sent it out to recruit participants through social media and relevant subreddits.

The people who responded to the form and fit our criteria for ideal interviewee were those we ended up emailing for interviews.

Screener questions survey; Google Forms

Screener questions survey; Google Forms

Below is the data we collected: