Diving into the unknown …successfully?

On Friday 31st March, I had my first Studio session for HCDE 210. As soon as I walked in, we were told to sit at tables in groups of three. Since I did not know anyone, I sat at the first table I saw, with Israel and Benjamin. We started talking, getting to know each other when we heard Kerem, state that today we will doing a UCD Charrette. What is a Charrette, you ask? I couldn’t answer that until after the class. From what I learned, a charrette is an extremely quick sprint where we design something or go back and make modifications in a design to fit different users’ needs.

Task of the day: How might we redesign smart vehicle interfaces so that they better suit people’s needs?

Steps:

  1. Understand the users that we are targeting — Colour blind users
  2. Understand their needs regarding our interface — Knowing when there is heavy traffic versus light traffic (mostly differentiated by red and yellow/orange on screen)
  3. Design!

Process

We used sticky notes, the white board, large pieces of paper and lots of sharpies to brainstorm and design our interfaces!

It took a lot of group work and collaboration to design our final interface.

Brainstorming different user groups we want to target.
Making a flow chart depicting different decisions users can take on their interface.

Solution

We presented our final solution in front of the whole class at the end! Our solution was having a different representation of showing traffic, short dashes for light traffic and longer dashes for heavy traffic. This way, on the way to work, the users can choose the route that fits their time schedule the best.

Presenting our decision charts showcasing a design for colour blind users.

Reflecting back on this experience

Even though I did not have any experience with a Charrette, I had an extremely fun time! I really liked switching groups because it gave a real life example on what happens during sprints and designing. Someone can go into a group without having any background on the interface to modify but still have to work on the project!

I really liked the strategy of using sticky notes and grouping them together. That was my favourite part of the day. I also really liked making the decision chart and the creativity that goes in making the different designs for the screens.

Using this process in the future?

Personally, I want to go into a field of technology that has a human aspect to it, such as Informatics or HCDE. Sprints like these are great for skill building. Teamwork, creativity, quick-thinking, and brainstorming are just some that I focused on.

A few of my classes in college so far have required prototyping and I think at times like those, this process will be extremely useful.

Final Thoughts

I think it was a very successful day, I learned a lot. An entirely new process of designing getting a feel of what HCDE really entails. I cannot wait for the future Studio sessions and dive further into the world of Human Centered Design and Engineering.

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