Greyhound Station Study

Problem Statement

My goal was to investigate a particular space, noting how the design of the environment shaped human behavior, and to devise a method for highlighting the patterns occurring in that space. I worked to understand the mental models that travelers were adhering too and the mental model of whoever designed the station.

Questions I addressed:

  • How can a designer effectively understand a space through observation?

  • How does the environment shape human behavior and how does a designer become sensitive to seeing that?

  • What hierarchy should be utilized in a visual to convey a message?


Intended uses

How the original designer likely intended for people to move through the station.

Actual uses

During and after examining the space, I reflected on what human behaviors were afforded or not and asked myself questions on how the environment could be improved. This is how most people actually move through the station.

Findings and Questions

  • The restroom is the most popular location, for travelers and people who just need to use the restroom

    • Why not place the bathroom near the front of the station?

  • Travelers may want to chat with each other

    • Would affording social interaction amongst strangers yield a more positive customer experience? 

  • The second charging station sees little use compared to the first charging station

    • Why isn't there a bench by that second charging station?

  • The elongated layout and spacing of makes many utilities (outlets, vending machines) useless

    • Can the back part of the station be used for something other than seating?

  • People feel the need to mark their spot despite there being a boarding number on their ticket

    • Would putting boarding numbers by the row alleviate this tension?


Zeisel: Inquiry by design

I applied John Zeisel's Inquiry by Design techniques for noticing physical traces of human activity left in the environment, particularly "erosion" and "public messages".

Findings and Questions

  • People use the common areas to advertise their own organizations

    • Why not utilize these areas for ad revenue and increase profit?

  • The urinals show variable degree of use 

    • Do there need to be that many urinals?

  • The soda machine near the main sitting area show far more use than the secondary machine

    • Why does the secondary soda machine need to exist?

Time Lapse

The primary takeaways from the time lapse that I set up was that most people didn't stay stationary and many people used the station for just the restroom. Watching the same people walk past the camera was evidence for my first observation; seeing someone walk past the camera, then permanently leave several minutes later was evidence for the second.

Flow Graphic Process

Initial Observations

These are the notes I took to track where people were going and the size of the station. I noted where and when people were stationary and counted paces to determine the size.

Iteration 1

My focus for the graphic was intended to be the dots and paths representing people, but initially, my graphic was distracting in it's hierarchy. I had too many elements that had high contrast with the background.

Iteration 2

After creating the animation, I realized that I would need to rethink the hierarchy of the visual as the focus of the design was the accumulated path and dots, not the utility icons. Decreasing the contrast of the utility icons was the key for focusing attention on the path and dot animation.