Needs Validation



Needs validation was performed to confirm the requirements that North Quad residents have for a system intended to help users meet one another. The potential of the design under consideration to address those needs was also tested. Specifically, the test was composed to better understand the impact of the following characteristics:

  • Physical context and environment
  • Implementation & means of interaction
  • Profile content

User Needs

The social needs of residents in North Quad, identified through earlier research, varied significantly from user to user. Those needs establish the basis for this study. They include:

  • Identify residents with similar professional goals for potential networking and collaboration
  • Identify residents who would be interested in engaging in specific activities of mutual interest
  • Identify residents to recruite for favorite student organizations
  • Identify residents who are in the same classes and interested in studying or completing homework together

Residents also described requirements they would have for any solution that helped to meet these needs. Requirements included:

  • Create a comfortable and casual environment for interaction
  • Ensure sufficient time to complete required interactions
  • Minimize repetativeness and maintain variety in information displayed



Each potential user was shown seven storyboards in various groupings and asked to compare and contrast the way in which the system was depicted.
The storyboards differed along the dimensions previously described:

  • Context
  • Implementation & means of interaction
  • Profile content

Discussion Questions: Six Per Storyboard Comparison

Test participants were asked the following questions after viewing the storyboards:

  • Briefly tell me what you think is happening in this scenario?
  • Which scenario feels most natural? …most likely to happen?
  • In which of these situations would you see yourself using this most?
  • Do you see a problem with any of these scenarios?
  • How do you think normal behavior in these places would be impacted by this system?
  • What do you see as the pros and cons of each option?
  • Walk me through what you think each person is thinking in these situations.
  • Put yourself in this person’s shoes – would you behave the same way this person did or differently? Why?


Profile Content - Photo

User views and reacts to a resident profile featuring a personal photograph. Interaction occurs in elevator lobby, using smart phone.

Profile Content - No Photo

User views and reacts to a resident profile featuring an "interest" photo. Interaction occurs in elevator lobby, using smart phone.

Implementation - Touch Screen

User views and reacts to a resident profile featuring an ice-breaker game. Interaction occurs in elevator lobby, using a touch screen.

Context - Laundry

User views and reacts to a resident profile. Interaction occurs in laundry room, using smart phone.

storyboard - game

User views and reacts to a resident profile featuring an ice-breaker game. Interaction occurs in elevator lobby, using smart phone.

Storyboard - Study Group

User views and reacts to a resident profile featuring an opportunity to join a study group. Interaction occurs in elevator lobby, using smart phone.


Recruitment Criteria: All North Quad residents were considered as potential test subjects.
Recruitment Methods: A “hallway ambush” was used. Potential participants were approached while entering the North Quad dorms.
Participants Recruited: Four individuals were recruited. All four were male, ranging in age from 19 to 21.


1.) No Perfect Context: Trade-offs Must Be Made

Locations like the laundry room, which are relatively private public spaces and in which users spend larger chunks of time also tend to be less frequently visited. Users also tend to be more preoccupied in such locations. Locations like the elevator lobby offer many more visits per day and no obvious preoccupations. But visits are extremely short and the very public nature of the location can inhibit behavior.

2.) Interaction Methods: Touch Screens More Natural but Logistically and Socially Problematic

All users initially said that they would rather interact with the system via touch screen in order to avoid having to take their phones out of their pockets. However, those who reflected further on the issue identified prolonged interaction with another person’s profile as potentially socially awkward. Further, they recognized that it could be difficult to complete the interaction at the screen before the elevator arrived, and that they would abandon it if necessary.

3.) User Social Priorities Impact Perception of the System

Users’ pre-existing interests and social priorities impacted their feelings about the different types of interactions that may be possible through the system. While some found the playfulness of the social games to be a fun way to meet new people with similar interests, others couldn’t imagine using the system to meet anyone other than potential study partners. Further, user interests influenced whether or not different types of visual content was attention getting or encouraged interaction.


  • Elevator lobby remains the best potential context for the application
  • Touch screen interactions could help to engage the user, but are not the best way to facilitate contact between users
  • Interplay between user social priorities and profile content requires further exploration and should be the primary focus of the enactment component of the study
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