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Discovering Workspaces

Discovering Workspaces is a research project with a final deliverable in a form of a mobile application. It helps the users find the most appropriate place on campus to work based on their needs and wants, which are implemented as search filters.

user research

4 weeks

We were to identify a problem on campus, use several different research methods to observe and analyze, and then come up with an intervention that would help resolve the problem. The topic we worked on was finding workplaces on campus. 

Susie Lee

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selecting topic

The premise that we were given was to select a problem on campus that needs to be resolved through a design intervention. Upon deciding the topic to focus on for this project, we created three proposal posters dealing with different problem areas that we found interesting and believe to have affected our experiences here at Carnegie Mellon University. 


Then, we had our proposals evaluated by our classmates and based on the feedbacks, we decided to go with the "working space" idea. The premise for this project comes from our experience about not being able to find the most ideal study spaces. We wanted to offer an easier and faster way for the students to find the workspace.


Prior to actually diving into researches, we solidified our proposal and looked for the appropriate research methods that would give us the exact information needed in order to proceed. Also, not only that we chose the means of collecting data, but also we looked for ways to operationalize the already existing research methods so that we are able to gather the exact data we want. 

planning research


research method I
online survey

Do you think you are fully aware of all the workspaces that the university has to offer?

We started off with an online survey that we sent out through social media such as Facebook. Because our target audience was the students currently enrolled at Carnegie Mellon University, we posted this survey on relevant group pages. We gathered responses from 100 students with various backgrounds, and from those responses, we concluded that many students are unaware of the study spaces that the university has to offer, and would like to create a way to inform the students of various choices they have. 


research method II
collaborative mapping

Where do you work? Does a specific academic building attract a particular type of studying?

We created a campus map with all the academic buildings on a large black foam core. Along with the map, we provided four different colors of sticky dots which each represents different response: Pink dots represent individual study, yellow was group work, orange was individuals working in a group separately, and green was preferred study space. The map was placed on the second floor of our university center from 5pm to 9pm the next day.


research method III
sticky factors

Why do you work there? What are some factors that determine where you decide to study?

We went around the campus to ask people to write down two factors they consider the most when they decide where to work. We collected responses on a sticky note, and compiled them on a large sheet of black foam core. Pink sticky represented the primary factor and orange represented their secondary. We then rearranged the post-its based on their characteristics, and developed a set of major factors people consider when determining their workspace. The key terms were then used in the next research strategy. Left is before, and right is after categorizing the factors.


research method IV
narrowing down

Do certain keywords remind you of an academic building/workspace?

For research #3, we came up with a list of factors that people considered when they decided on where to work. The key terms were then filtered to a final seven: Quiet, loud, private (isolated), open (active), availability of food/drink, resources (e.g. printers, scanners, whiteboards, etc.), and furniture (e.g. chairs, desks, etc.). We created another survey which asked people to list the first three workspaces/academic buildings that came to mind when they thought of the keyword. We took these surveys and distributed them at different workspaces. 


research poster


final poster version I

We created a UI design of our application based on the researches that we have conducted so far. It lets the user choose the factor they prioritize through the filters that we have created and then recommends the workspace that meets their wants and needs. 


revised final

We met up after the project had ended and made some changes to the UI and the visual style of the poster, tweaking the parts that we did not like about the previous outcome. The biggest change that we made here is that we changed how the user navigate through the application to be smoother, and incorporated a physical map in our UI design so that it is easier for the students to make sense of the location immediately.