Make All the Things Part 3: Vertical Garden Part 2 – User Research

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Pumping Station One

Today we will delve into the basics of survey research and how this will affect the development of our product. In the previous project that I created there was one objective – make a lion ring for myself. In terms of design it is easy to build for oneself and your likes. It is much harder to build towards a larger population of people. In a sense it is awesome to build one’s own product because they are more excited to show it off to others, but there is a value to build with people in mind. There is a more universal factor of people reaching out for the product. In this article, we will look into how we are first attacking the idea of building a vertical garden through data and survey methods of users.

User based research and design is critical for this project. I can make a vertical garden at my own home and use it for specific resources that I feel would be awesome to me. The herd of people similar to me may indeed want this product as well, but the vast majority of people may not. For this project we are going to build this vertical garden after we have obtained a good amount of survey data on people and their habits with produce. 

A group of designers here at Pumping Station One have been working on this project and we created a survey attached here for anyone who would like to take it. A lot of the questions in the survey are built with the intention to understand what would be ideal for the general population in terms of produce that could be created within a vertical garden. This is very important for the future creation of the project. Different produce will have a variety of botany needs that we will have to learn about within our next stage of design research. These needs will lead to different expectations in terms of soil, build environment for the garden, material interactivity, and various items of importance. 

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User Oriented Research

As we have received some survey data already, a couple of interesting trends continuously emerge in terms of people and their certain wants for specific types of produce. This will lead us to learn about the ability of growing these within a vertical gardening setup. It will be interesting trying to build an enclosure based on the botany of the produce in question. The width and height of the structure start to be of major concern. The more we delve deeper into the topic, the more leads are being made in terms of an ideal product. It is a very different approach then I am typically used to. I come from a more rapid prototyping thought process. Rapid prototyping is done by quickly making a product and then changing things on the fly. This is a way more thorough way to build a product, and I definitely am intrigued by how this process changes my perspective. It is natural for me as some with a bit of a hardware and engineering mindset to build out products quickly, but I think the ability to precisely plan through data and research is a great skill to learn. 

Most of our data has been collected from asking people at different local grocers. This inherently has some bias as we are choosing different people and asking them in person. We are trying to vary the places we attend so there are a variety of people and demographics being targeted in terms of socioeconomic class. Also going to different locations such as fast food places can give us good insight to different users as well. The type of answers one may garner from a fast food purchaser may differ from someone who regularly shops at a local farmer’s market as well as is a vegan.

A lot of the questions within the survey helps us as a team of designers to gain insight into the general human population. The risk that this entails is that we can not build a perfect product. There is a lot of value in this design process as it allows us to make a product with a general umbrella of users it may be able to compel. With a rapid prototyping process, one can make a product for themselves, but the issue then becomes finding similar users to oneself.  In the next article, I will discuss the results of this initial survey and how this will affect our build.

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