Social Media: Our Unconventional Approach to User Feedback
During the Post Occupancy Evaluations that we conduct on our projects, we solicit feedback about the experience of working, relaxing, teaching, learning and playing in our buildings. This information is of enormous value for our architects and designers, enabling us to understand project successes and failures from a user perspective and carry this knowledge forward to the next project.
In our ever more interconnected world, we have also begun to recognize the rise of spontaneous, unsolicited feedback in the form of instantaneous posts, shares, tweets, photos, pins, and more. This provides another dimension of raw feedback based in honest “real world” experiences – a wonderful learning tool that may get us to the “Did we get it right?” or “Should we do it again?” finish line a little faster.
The beauty of the social media movement is that all users – young and old, student and teacher, employee and visitor – have the digital freedom to reveal their passions whether they be design-driven or otherwise. A quick skim of sites including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest proves this: Newly engaged couple? Check. Baby Announcement? Check. Someone’s morning cup of coffee? Check. An artsy building perspective from someone else’s morning commute? Absolutely. All passionately snapped, recorded, or written via smart device and made share-worthy with the help of artistic filters, a fitting caption, then topped off with relevant hashtags. And just like that… your parent, your childhood friend, your middle school art teacher, your favorite musician, your somewhat egotistical great-aunt have all compelled you to look at their moments and movements. Their captured instants and shared feelings offer playful, unique, and convivial perspectives much different from anything we are used to seeing from architectural photographers or survey responses. What’s more, their followers show respect and compassion by liking, sharing, or commenting on what has been posted – further expanding that moment’s reach.
From our end, geotagging (tagging a post with GPS location data) is one of the most valuable components of social posting. First, any viewer who clicks a photo or video’s specific geotag can see all other posts being uploaded at that location. Second, these additional geotagged displays allow us to view other occupants who are showcasing their experiences in the same place. We geotag-searched some of our own projects around the country and were thrilled to find an abundance of every day moments, time-spanned photos, community posts and discussions, and even a Stairway to Heaven ‘bucket list’ video recorded in the atrium of our Florida State University William Johnston Building (we’re looking at you, @dvince3). Combined with traditional means of user feedback, we have an open window to how our buildings make people feel.
Some in the architectural community have voiced concern that social media platforms could only give the general public tools to evaluate architecture at façade value. But nowadays we’re beginning to recognize that much more can be taken away from every post. There is deeper meaning that can be consumed from this sort of voluntary feedback. From the survey of recent social media posts gathered here, we’ve been able to see how our buildings impact their neighborhoods, communities, campuses, and cities. We’ve taken note of those elements that make people feel good, that inspire sharing the moment with others. With further investigation, we feel that social media can have a meaningful impact on the way we design and the way we practice.
Now go on… Like. Tweet. Pin. Share. Repeat.
Gould Evans projects featured in social media posts:
Lawrence Public Library Addition and Renovation
Cerner Continuous Campus
Florida State University William Johnston Building
Tulane University Yulman Stadium
Gladstone Community Center
NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center
University of Missouri Kansas City Atterbury Student Success Center
St. Leo University Academic Center