User-centered design research, emerging as a focus of industrial design education, enables students to explore knowledge domains beyond their own experience to create more user-friendly product concepts. Methods that interact with the users, such as observation, interviews, surveys, or focus groups, have provided venues of more intensive understanding of users’ behaviors. For user behaviors that require longer- term monitoring, user-diary is an effective approach to document the daily user behavior. This paper will present a quantitative user diary conducted in a design project funded by a major paper towel company. One hundred and twenty seven family members in fifty homes documented the purposes of every single sheet of paper towels used during a five day period. A checklist of common paper towel applications was provided to the families, and they were encouraged to fill in open areas with other paper towel usages. The study provided valuable information that user surveys or interviews could not accurately reveal. The usages of 4,168 paper towels were analyzed and compared. It was the first time the client learned in detail the multiple functions of their paper towel products. The user-diaries were followed by user interviews, allowing industrial design students to propose several revolutionary product concepts for the client. These new concepts were created to deliver better satisfaction to users in several applications, identified from the user-diary study. The process in this project provides an excellent case study for monitoring long term user behavior in a quantitative context.
|Keywords:||User Research, Industrial Design, User Diary|
Associate Professor, Department of Industrial and Graphic Design, Auburn University, Auburn University, AL, USA
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