Conversations in public spaces

Using an understanding of people to inform design decisions is a foundation of people centred design. In collaboration with external stakeholders, we gained first-hand experience with field research techniques, team-based synthesis, persona and model-making, co-creation and insight generation. 

Research topic

After several small workshops and group exercises we were asked to organise and run a series of interviews and observations around the theme of “Trust”, using the people-centered research techniques we had developed. The following questions formed the base for our research questions.

How much trust do people have when discussing personal, private or work related topics in public spaces? How do the location, people, environment and conversation topic affect the amount of trust involved?

Research analysis

We used a series of research analysis tools and processes to discover key insights and design opportunities within the data we had collected. These design opportunities were discussed and presented to the entire class along with key statements and evidence. We discovered that there are three main influences that affect how much trust a person has when discussing a specific topic: Location, Channel and People.

When interviewing people we found that… Trust is a willingness to rely on another person for unbiased assistance, advice and help with a specific topic.

We set ourselves the following design challenge… How might we provide people with a way to discuss personal/work topics with trustworthy neutral parties using public transport?


Using an additional round of interviews and field research we presented our initial design concepts and received the following feedback.

— It would be very suitable as a mobile app.

— Tourism and travellers might find the service very suitable.

— It could be a great tool for organised group activities such as dating.

— A band that flashes or vibrates isn’t very discreet and could lead to awkward situations.

— Probably used for short periods of activity but not every day.

 Based on the feedback above, we developed our concept further to create the GoLocal service. Which would collect and organise your online networks so you can meet new people easily. Learn about new contacts instantly and decide whether you trust them with the topic you’d like to discuss.