So, theoretically I'm sampling for a game that aims to inform and encourage people to recycle by teaching them where appropriate disposal containers are located. My task is to, on the fly, spot only a few key individuals in a public space where such containers exist and are accessible. The design challenge this hopes to overcome is whether or not people even consider alternative methods for waste disposal beyond the traditional trash can. To remedy problems associated with overcrowded disposal facilities, the app uses simple wayfinding tools to let people know where they can deposit recyclable materials. So, let us play a little narrative game...
I'm standing in a school atrium. To the North a doorway leads to the college cafeteria. To the East I see a bookstore and general store that sells books, school affiliated clothing and more. Acting as a hub for the University, the atrium has a fairly high amount of traffic on a regular basis. Students come and go or have laptops and books set up on numerous tables spread throughout the space.
Three possible characteristics of who might play this app right now:
1. Someone on their phone who would instantly be able to download and interact with the app
2. Individuals using laptops
3. Someone who is eating/drinking and will soon have to dispose of some of their materials
Three possible characteristics of who would probably not play right now:
1. Individuals obviously just cutting through the atrium to get somewhere
2. People without a phone visibly on them
3. People engaged in discussion with others who may seem busy or purposeful
Three people I would talk to:
1. A young student on their phone waiting in line for their meal
2. A pair of students sitting at a table with laptops
3. A Faculty member strolling through the atrium patiently, checking their phone again and again, catching eye contact with me regularly
These particular people fit the bill. They are either utilizing the very technology I would need them to use, seemingly capable to operate such technology, or most importantly are about to need the relevant information once they finish their meal and have material to throw away. The strongest sample would come from the young student, of course, as the actual need represents the inherent problem the design is looking to overcome. It would force her to make considerations she normally may not make in order to divide her trash and put it where it effectively belongs. This is purposive. That need may or may not be a factor for the other individuals, now or in the near future, but by weighing ideal characteristics for samples I'm able to obtain more effective (and relevant) data.
On the other hand, if random sampling was done and I talked to the first three people closest to me, the resulting information could be null. They may not have a phone on them, they may not be familiar enough with app stores to even install the program, or they may just not be interested in speaking with me altogether because they have somewhere to be. By observing and making informed decisions about who to speak with I would be able to save time, strengthen the design methodology and almost ensure I would acquire productive data.