Need finding is a crucial tool in any UX designers arsenal. The ability to observe others is often taken for granted by fledgling designers that make their first moves towards paper or computer screens. If you have never done any need finding before I am going to show you how you can easily do this with minimal effort that will produce astounding insights that can really help your design projects take off. For this project I decided to couple it with some other work that I have been doing as to kill two birds with one stone per say. So the work you see here is part of a much larger initiative but can be used as one way of looking at the beginning of the design process from a slightly different lens. The beginnings of projects often come from a problem or a person. This is also true of need finding but the difference is you don’t even think about a problem at all before you have done an observation of the potential group of people you may be designing for. It is very refreshing to come into the design process without any preconceived notions about ANYTHING. By simply observing you gather all of the requirement you need to begin a design.
As you may know slow-change design is a very hot topic these days. I began my research by conducting some need finding and what I the following is what I have come up with thus far. My observations were aimed at trying to find habits that people may have good or bad. My aim was not to specifically find something but to observe and if certain habits presented themselves than that would be good, but certainly wasn’t necessary. I did provide myself some constraints by asking to observe my participants while they were in their down-time. Habits are something we all struggle with and often want to change.
Predisposition: People have habits.

(Pictures denoting the interaction of rick observing his yields and showing them to me)


– Rick was very concerned with circumstances. Such as the right circumstances that would be needed to produce the best yields.
– Weather patterns are a concern for Rick.
– Different breeds take different times from seed to fruit.
– Weeds, watering, insect removal has become a daily routine.
– Rick picked a number of different items and showed me many and their current conditions based on his reasoning for why or why they were not succeeding.
– Favorite saying is that “the best thing that a gardener can cast onto his garden is his shadow.”

– Rick checks his garden daily sometimes four to five times when he is home and has the opportunity.


In this case the behavior is not exactly a bad behavior or obsessive behavior but possibly he could track the health of his garden based of the some variable. If this variable is x then y= and so forth. This way if he is able to track the progress of the garden he would not need to check the garden multiple times to check on the condition. He would be confident that the garden is okay and he would be able to trust the application to give him the information that he needs. 

Observation 2: Norma, retiree
For this observation I interviewed a retiree that I simply watched in her living room. I talked to Norma for about fifteen minutes before I noticed that that she held the computer in her lap while she watched TV. I asked her why she did this and her response was that she liked to check the weather both from the computer and the TV. I asked her why and she explained that different weather channels have different observations and she liked to check to see the differences. I asked whether she liked to go outside and she explained she never goes outside.

 (Pictures denoting the interaction of the user checking the weather on multiple screens)


– Observation started by me simply sitting and observing her behavior while she watched TV.
– Norma flipped some channels back and forth but then she would return to the weather channel.


1. The breakdown here is simply that fact that multiple channels could have been presented on one monitor therefore bypassing the need for multiple monitors in the first place. To address this problem the behavior would need to be mitigated with either a way of stopping repeated attempts to check the weather or provide an improved interface that would not hinder the person from completing the behavior but simply augmenting it in such a way that it would not seem overly obsessive.

Observation 3: Jill, Assistant professor of communication disorders
For this observation I went grocery shopping to observe a typical grocery shopping experience. Part of Jill’s work week is that she goes to the store once a week on Saturday and picks up the groceries for the week. I observed Jill grabbing specific items and asked which ones she liked the best. Jill explained that her favorite product or one that she gets on a weekly basis was Diet Coke. I asked her why and she explained that it wasn’t really that it was Diet Coke but that it was carbonated beverages. She also bought a number of other items but the carbonated beverages were a must.

(Pictures denoting the interaction and experience of picking out carbonated beverages from the store)


– Jill began shopping gathering a number of items item’s leaving her cart at the end of the aisle.
– Never actually taking the cart down the aisle she would grab specific items and take them back to her cart.
– There was a list and specificity to the items she chose. She explained that there were certain items that changed on her lists but of the items one stayed the same and that was the caffeinated beverages.


1. The breakdown is that the person could have been notified or a behavior could have been altered if the person had been reminded or was cognizant that the behavior was occurring  The opportunity in the case of this interaction is having a device that notifies them and asks them whether they believe performing these actions is in there best interest. Essentially it would be in the form of a question so it doesn’t seem like it is telling them what to do but possibly suggesting alternatives. 


Website Identity Photos.

I had taken some pictures awhile back of the identity design I had done for my website. I think they came out good and wanted to post them. So, take a look and tell me what you think.


My thoughts on Identity design

So the logo for my blog and branding of my site are complete and let me tell you how long it took to come up with the logo.  Approximately sixteen months.

A year and four months ago I had taken a trip to Lake Patoka for an annual interaction design gathering. I had not really planned on much except I had a cooler of beer and wanted to just relax since the stress of the HCI’d program had been…smothering. I had moseyed on down to the lake side. It was dark (pitch black) and a buddy of mine had started a fire. He had remarked that he was going to sleep down there and I thought it seemed like a good enough idea considering the night was gorgeous and the temperature was perfect for sleeping outside.

After gazing into the fire for about an hour a simple thought had came to my mind. After discussing design while we chatted we reminisced on our new found teachings and I began to wonder where design actually comes from. I mean when we create we are taking something that occurs in our natural world and changing it making it more functionable, usable, purposeful. As I began to reflect I thought about fires destructive and creative properties and began to wonder  where ideas come from. This was the initial thought and it was what I came to call my blog when I first posted it over a year ago “Fire Inside Design.” Due to the fact my workload was heavy and I had little time to post process my work I never did get the logo completely finished. I like the idea of the abbreviated form of FID as its shorter version.

So finally I found some time and reminisced on those early thoughts of sitting in front of the fire wondering where design comes from and I received what I understood was my answer. To me design comes from deep inside. The Japanese call it a Hara I call it your gut. Sometimes you just have these ideas your brain thinks up that your gut gives you answers to. While through the process of critique you find that your designs can be poor and incomplete its important that you understand that the transition from what you think in your mind and how you see your design whole heartedly can almost be impossible if not extremely difficult to render one hundred percent in the real world. Somehow the ideas fall flat and often they die. Well, for this sites sake and my companies sake I have designed this logo with a great deal of thought. For me the Anvil which I came to after months of deliberation of looking into myself I found this is what I stand for its also what I know. I grew up around metal workers and fabricators working on the dredges on the river. Often I would talk to the men who would be working with metal building, crafting and so the smells the burning of tig welders and the creation process all relate closely to who I have grown to be. Anvils are strong, timeless and ideas are crafted and forged upon their surface. So this simple image of an anvil represents the strength with which I will tackle projects and commitment that I give to the people I work with. This togetherness of craft can be seen in the logo and I hope you enjoy it.