For this week’s project, we used User-Centered Design to decide important features and functions for a car interface and design around them. The first team I worked with was designing for an Uber driver with a Prius. The scenario we created was the driver receiving a notification for an incoming drive order, accepting and receiving the route, getting directions to their customer’s start location, and arriving to the destination. Because Uber is run from a smartphone app, we decided the car interface should easily connect to their phone, and prioritized that feature among others. In my second team, we created a scenario of a mother with a larger car taking her children on a road trip and needing entertainment for them. The user interface screens we came up with consisted of menus through which the child could choose different entertainment options and get approval from their mother.
In my experience for this assignment, the process was quick and created a satisfactory design but led to some oversights of possible ethics or design issues. Would a voice command system be better for safety? Should the Uber or entertainment systems be available in the car with certain buttons specifically for them or should it rely on the smartphone connectivity? This created the choice of going back and working through the design again or continuing and tweaking as we went on, with tweaking working easiest unless the problem was very large.
I liked how naturally the UCD process flows. When we moved from brainstorming user needs to coming up with our specific scenario, it was easier to notice which parts should be prioritized in the design and therefore more readily available. The interaction flow helped to decide what menu options should be available before having to physically pick a layout for the information. By the time we got to the presentation, it was clear to see what made most sense to the design and what we should consider changing should we continue with the project.
This technique seems best suited for very visual projects developed in groups. For example, it would be great in designing how to navigate through different screens of an app, even for when it’s being redesigned. This process allows an organized way to decide what features should be included given an idea, and which parts should be given more obvious placement or a hidden shortcut. On the Spotify app, they not only have the main tabs to look through music, but they also have partial sideswipe components that allow you to simply queue a song. That feature was probably part of an update part of a redesign, not considered in earlier developments of the app. However, the interaction flows could get very complicated with all the different paths available in a more complicated app.
Overall, our first project was an interesting and helpful way to briefly see how UCD works and how efficient and effective it can be when designing an interface and I look forward to further exploring HCD in the coming weeks.