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User Experience (UX) Working Group

July 24 - Covert Naturalistic Observation

After participating in a UX method called, 'Covert Naturalistic Observation' in various locales outside of the library environment, 7 library staff members gathered to share their findings, thoughts, and ideas. 

Being covert means observing behaviors in their natural contexts without any intervention or influence by the researcher, and without participants knowing that they’re being observed. This type of study is known in psychology, anthropology, and other social sciences as covert naturalistic observation – (Jim Ross, 2013 - UX Matters)

Why observe?
We can see what people really do rather than what they say they do or what they show us when they know we’re studying them. This can inform decision-making for future changes to services, layout, etc.  By observing and discussing service environments outside of the library, we can return to our own spaces with fresh eyes. 

Particpants were asked to:

  1. Prepare: Attend a 15min pre-observation briefing to review our tool & ask any questions.
  2. Observe: 15min & record notes (provided with some suggested locations & a worksheet).
  3. Share: Attend a 1hr discussion workshop and share your findings.

The locales participants observed:

  • Brock Univesity Marketplace
  • Brock University Welcome/Info Desk
  • Brock University Isaac's/Union Station
  • Starbucks
  • Willow Bakery
  • Mahtay Cafe 
  • The Apple Store


observation pros

observation cons

observation tips