User Center Design Charrette Process Report


On January 4, 2017, my classmates and I did a general design charrette on the topic of smart car figures. This 110 minutes charrette included individual activities like brainstorm for target groups and group activities like building scenario for specific user, designing solution to help user in this scenario and presentation of solution.

Event Recap:

  • Step 1 Brainstorm:

We were asked to think of as many as users group who have special need that a smart car should cover in its features and put them on the wall with sticky note. Most of us came up ideas like businessman who make phone calls a lot when driving or people with disabilities. Notablly, there are several brilliant ideas like teengers who just start driving and people who drink alcohol before driving that I would never think of myself.

It is also new to me to organize note papers based on category of the idea.

  • Step 2 Building Scenario:

In this group setting, my teammate and I were pointed to build specific scenario for students who ride school bus. We first thought of the need those students might need and after coming out with several ideas, we decided to work on an attendance system for school bus. Thus, we build a scenario that when school bus driver pick up students, he finds out there is one student missing and using this system to reach that student’s parent.

  • Step 3 Designing Solution:

As the studio moved on, I switched to a new group with a brand new idea and scenario. My new team’s goal is to design a solution for a criminal who just robbed a bank. We designed a special map mode which can hijack police radio to detect the location of police vehicle and use this information to come up route that maximize the possibility of escaping.

  • Step 4 Presentation:

After we finished our design, we prepared for a 1 minute presentation of our idea. Awaring how fast can 1 minute be, me and my teammate decided only to present the most important part: the user, the scenario and the solution with short sentences. We picked one each person and finished the presentation in time.

Reflections on Studio:

I faced several challenges in this charrette. First, the pace can be difficult to catch up. I experienced an entire design process in just 110 minute and spend only 10 to 15 minute in each task. The time limitation brought stress when I try to come up ideas quickly. Also, due to the lack of time, our design was not able to be detailed enough which I believe is very important to human-center design. Second, the group switch is also interesting but challenging. I felt somehow uncomfortable to switch mind entirely right in the design process. However, I accepted this challenge, tried to be really open with my new team and was able to come up with the idea that we use in the presentation. Third, I failed to stress the ethical issue in my disign. Our design is for a criminal who just robbed the bank. Although I felt a bit worried about designing something to escape for criminal, I still carried on the idea since I believe in retrospect that I really did not treat the ethical aspect of the design seriously.

Evaluation of Studio:

I really enjoyed the entire studio. The most interesting part is I think the charrette is idea-intense. From the brainstorm to final presentation, we never stopped thinking and coming up with something new. We started from nothing in mind and 110 minutes after, BOOM, Here is an mock project in paper. I was amazed by how much we can build with our ideas in this short time. On the other hand, the group setting really helped communication and idea to flow. We were able to communicate face to face and actually draw something down and present them as a group rather than keep the idea vaguely in mind.

Applying the Technique:

Although brainstorm is always a good idea to start with under any situation, I think the design technique we learnt could be apply when the topic is relatively general with limited restrictions apply. For example, it is a good idea for a family to apply such technique when they try to decorate their new home. The family could gathered to brainstorm/collect scenarios in their daily life and design decoration solutions for their specific needs. In this case, they have a entire house to apply their ideas and restriction is rather small(except for money). However, it may not be a good idea when the design goal is specific and specialized. For example, when developing a movie plot, it will be a bad idea to let everyone to join the brainstorm for the plot because not everyone know how to write a interesting plot and a central idea can be distracted when too many people get involved.

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