Secondary Users and Starfire
“What is the overall experience of a parent, as a secondary user, while they wait inside Starfire for their child to finish soccer practice?”
As a researcher, I was motivated to do this study because the secondary user was invisible to me. This drove me to question how Starfire provided for their needs and how they, the parents, in turn experienced their time at Starfire.
“Where do they go?”, “What do they do?”, “Are they bored?”
Starfire Sports complex located in Tukwila, WA
This user research study was done in conjunction with Starfire Sports (Starfire) with the goal of learning about the secondary users experience inside the facility. This study was completed in three parts: field studies, interviews, and a survey.
The field study was done in three one hour sessions. I chose to do pure observation as a covert observer. I tried my best to blend in to the background as best as I could by simply walking one of the floors each hour, stopping to take jottings on paper as needed. I planned my observations for a Monday between 4pm and 730pm to match the soccer practices that happen at Starfire. I tried to pick out interactions, body language, where time was being spent and anything else that could be pertinent. Afterwards, I transcribed my jottings into formal field notes and then ran two affinity diagrams, one which I ran independently the other with a partner to curb any bias I had.
This was my first field study and I learned a lot. I had chosen to cover three floors by myself in three hours and thankfully Starfire's layout was open enough to allow for this. Each bit of information I found helped inform me on what was actually happening at Starfire. Secondary users were indeed active and using the space. My major findings and design recommendations were:
- Parents are more likely to wander aimlessly when alone
- Design rec: Walking routes for parents who enjoy walking for fitness
- Most happy later in the day and/or while not alone
- Design rec: Overlook seating
- Parents socialized in the restaurant and got work done in the café
- Design rec: Provide more information needed from interviews
These findings gave me insight into what secondary users were doing but did not give me the entire picture. Now that I had the "What" I needed to ask them "Why?"
After seeing parents wander around, do work in the cafe, and the myriad emotions they portrayed I wanted to know why these things were happening. I decided to do three semi-structured interviews with some of Starfire's secondary users. Semi-structured interviews were a good choice because it allowed my to create a framework to my interviews but allowed me to dive into some of the answers I was given. Each interview lasted between 30 to 45 minutes and was transcribed, color coded, then parsed for an affinity diagram.
The interviews themselves were more powerful than I could have imagined. I learned about their motivations behind being at Starfire and through those, I learned what their true goals were. Before this study I would have guess that they stayed because it was easier for them but it went far beyond that. My major findings and design recommendations were:
- Lack of seating
- Design rec: Larger cafe
- No promotion of healthy lifestyle for secondary users
- Design rec: Promotion of healthy living via walking paths
- Design rec: More healthy food choices
- Insight: Overall positive experience
- Insight: Starfire was a productive workplace
These findings and insights helped inform my survey questions. Did all parents think that there were no healthy food options? Is the lack of seating a real problem?
The survey portion of this study was informed by both the field study and the interviews. I used 12 survey questions to get a larger representation of secondary users at Starfire. I was also able to validate assumptions from both previous phases like whether or not walking paths or the lack of seating were issues for the larger population. My major findings and design recommendations were:
- Time spent: one to three days per week/ 25% spent time inside the facility
- Design rec: Larger cafe
- Most time spent was on the first floor overlooks
- Design rec: More seating
- Need for better workspaces
- Creation of a workplace lounge
This was the final part of the study and a good cap to it over all. I was able to validate a lot of my assumptions, find some new insight, and provide Starfire Sports with a quality study.
After the conclusion of this study I provide the President and CEO (Ben Oliver) with a comprehensive report into the secondary user experience at Starfire. I was congratulated on my work and was told that my study will hold influence over the next couple years of remodeling at the soccer complex. Walking paths, more seating along the first floor, and a remodeled cafe are now being looked at as future design changes for the facility.