space Occupation Assistance

Categories: User Research, Problem Solving, Environments

Partners: Lynn Kim, Yvette Lee

This project was looking at a problem that students on campus encounter. In Carnegie Mellon University, there are so many spaces that students can study at. However, because there are so many spaces, it is impossible to know where there are free spaces. If your first option is not available, you have to keep searching for a place that has available spots, but not unless you go to each individual place physically. My team and I studied the behaviors of students when they cannot find a space on campus and created an app that catered to those behaviors.



Research Method 1

To get a general knowledge of how people truly feel about finding seats and to narrow down our scope for the problem, we made a google forms survey and asked questions about study areas and eating areas. Out of 127 responses, we found that:

  • Most students do not have a problem finding dining seats.
  • Working students peak at 4pm tp 10pm each day.
  • Students each have their favorite spot that the like to work at.
  • Most students study at their dorms because they do not want to go through the hassle of looking for seats.

By using these results, we conducted our next research method, which are the map interviews.

Screenshot 2018-02-21 05.16.06.png

Research Method 2

Using the data that we found with our Google Survey, we went to the most popular study buildings at the peak time of 4pm to 10pm, and asked random students to participate. This map interview was an interactive map activity where students had to trace their path around campus when searching for places to study. This activity lead us to find that:

  • Students go home when their first option is not available.
  • Students had specific floor preferences, aside from specific building preferences.
  • Some students only knew one or two study spaces.
  • These preferences are based on what kind of services are provided in the spaces, how busy it is, and how much privacy is afforded.
Map used for the interactive map activity

Map used for the interactive map activity

Research Method 3

After we received the specific floor preferences that people most preferred, we conducted a shadowing research method of students on those specific floors. Specifically, we video taped the students from behind, navigating through these floors to find seats. From this research, we found that:

  • Students maneuver through the whole floor from front to back before giving up.
  • Students felt uncomfortable to walk through the whole floor, and felt that everyone was watching them.
The red line represents the path people take when looking for seats.

The red line represents the path people take when looking for seats.

territory and stakeholder map

Our approach to this problem was an upside down triangle approach: starting broad and getting narrower as we did more research. In the territory map, it shows how we narrowed down as we went through our process. We also mapped out the different stakeholders who are affected by the problem of finding study seating on campus.


final poster & app prototype

We compiled all of our findings and final solution onto one poster, as well as a simple prototype of the app through Keynote.

How People Work Poster Final Mock UP.png