Better Burnet

Abbie Howell
8 min readNov 6, 2018


By Annie Backs, Alexis Catherine, Abbie Howell, and Paul Steiger

A selfie we took in front of the sign from when the stone slide in the park was built

1. Goals — Approach to the problem

We got acquainted with the problem through our visit to Burnet woods and from our interviews. We also used the MEELS in order to find the problem within Burnet. The first word of MEELS is memorability, and we concluded that Burnet Woods is not a memorable place. In fact, its most memorable thing would have to be the park’s unsafe reputation, which causes people not to visit the park. We talked about how the park is not efficient, because there’s a lack of direction of where to park, also signage and things to do within the park. The park could have its trails better marked for people to use and have a clear entrance into the park. As it is there are many roads leading into the park but nothing telling you where you’ll end up. When talking about errors regarding Burnet we discussed the lack of signage around the park, more street lights and perhaps cameras for safety. Visible trail heads of where the trails end and start and how long the trails are. Definitely a lack of presence in the Clifton and Cincinnati community. Lastly, for satisfaction we brought up the parks need for more activities and overall more community engagement so that people could enjoy and realize the benefits of Burnet Woods.

Online Research

The goals for our project were to figure out simple solutions that would bring more people to the Burnet. As well as a better understanding of the negative reputation the park has in Clifton and how to go about changing it.

We decided to approach college students, families, people who exercised within the park. From our interviews, surveys, and observation we concluded that these were the majority of the people that use the park. It made the most sense to go approach these people because they are the ones that our decisions would affect the most.

Some of the things that we asked people in our interviews was how safe people felt in the park, what activities people do in the park, whether people cared if the park was built over, and what people would change about the park.

Our research problem statement was to figure out why Burnet Woods is not visited as often and what could be done to change that. The park is great place to engage with nature while also being in a city, but something is keeping people from enjoying the wooded area. That’s where our problem derives from.

The information that we were trying to compensate for was a lack of understanding of what actually goes on at night. As a group we were not able to learn first-hand about Burnet woods reputation during the evenings. But we knew from our surveys and interviews that it was something that discouraged people from going to Burnet.

2. Method — User research

Throughout this process our team utilized a variety of methods in order to gain insight about Burnet Woods, including a survey, interviews, in-person observations, and empathetic designs.

After determining the problem, our first step was to create a generalized survey for the masses to fill out. This survey included questions like, “How often do you go to Burnet Woods?” “Why do you or do you not frequent Burnet Woods?” and “What have you heard about the reputation of Burnet Woods?” We attempted to make our questions as open ended as we could in order to get perspectives from many different sides.

Survey Results

Once the survey link had been Tweeted, texted, and shared through many platforms and to many demographics, our next step was to conduct deeper interviews with more one-on-one candidates. Chosen mostly at random, as well as by proximity and availability, these candidates were started off with questions very similar to our general survey, including “How often do you go to Burnet Woods?” and “Why do you go / what do you do while you’re there?” but were also built upon. Our team believed that the beauty in the in-person interview was the ability to dive deeper on site, where in a survey you’re left only with the data you thought to inquire about from the start. Our interviews gave each of us a different perspective of the personal connection some people have to Burnet Woods and got us thinking deeper.

Notes from when we visited the park as a group

From there we decided to check out the park for ourselves. A couple of us had been to Burnet Woods before, but never with a critical eye. Now, we were going to observe. We drove there to get the “full effect.” As suspected, there was not much signage so we simply picked a direction and started walking. We stumbled upon many interesting insights, including getting lost on a trail, a giant rock slide, and a family open to being interviewed. This family — one mom, one dad, both suspected in their mid-40s, and one daughter, suspected age 6 — was asked the same or similar questions from our aforementioned survey and interviews and came back with an extremely new insight that we didn’t quite tap into on our college campus.

From our multitude of interviews and observations we decided it was time to start laying out our information and data and deciding how to process it and what to do with it.

3. Insights — Analyze the data

After collecting information about how and why people do, or do not use Burnet Woods through in person interviews and online forms, we created personas. The personas were based off of trends we saw in our research, and the types of people who consistently appeared the most. We first created an affinity diagram to group the users of burnet woods, and figure out why the majority of people do or don’t go there. For each persona we created scenarios based on their feelings about Burnet Woods, so we could brainstorm how to solve each of their frustrations.

Affinity Diagram

To help us further we created three sections for each persona: motivations, goals, and frustrations. Through the four personas we saw that Athletic Andrew could benefit from better trailhead markers/information about the trails, as well as bettering the general park upkeep and lighting. We thought Freshman Fred and Involved Isa would benefit from more advertised activities at Burnet, as well as a shuttle stop from campus to Burnet Woods. We also saw that Protective Patti would benefit from positive park advertising and better upkeep. Each of these scenarios had a different take on the park, but they all helped us come up with our plan of how we would better Burnet Woods.


4. Recommendations — Report your results

Our final sketches

Going off of our personas, the first recommendation we would like to make to Cincinnati Parks is to add more information to Burnet Woods’ trail signage such as the mileage and closest roads/other trails. This would help people who may be interested in running or hiking on these trails, and want to count their mileage. The trails could also be preserved much better than they are currently, the path should be cleared and easily followable for the entirety of each trail. Another recommendation we would like to make to The Cincinnati Parks Board is to incorporate better marketing and advertising of the events that occur in the park. This could solve at least two issues: one, it could show people that the park is indeed safe and that they hold events that even families can go to. The additional problem it could potentially solve is the fact that people think nothing “interesting” ever occurs at Burnet. This is not the case. They have yoga, a nature center, and in the summer they have food trucks and local bands playing just to name a few. The big issue is that people don’t know about these things. People might take time out of their busy schedules if there is a driving factor to bring them Burnet because they know it’ll be worth their while.

Our overall solution? Social Media. People primarily look to social media for fun things going on so they can participate. Promote events in Burnet woods on social media, create new events for Burnet and promote those too. We believe this could make such a huge difference in so many aspects of how this park is viewed.

One of our biggest takeaways from this assignment is that people’s perceptions can change drastically based on one comment. A single negative comment can be the biggest deterrent from anything. As we have seen from our research, many of these negative comments about Burnet woods have been passed down through generations. At this point, who knows what is even true. We need to prove to people that the concerns about Burnet are going to be resolved.

Assignment three could be a bigger assignment of innovation. If we had to change something, we think we could’ve put more thought into our research methods and could’ve potentially thought more outside of the box.