UCD Charrette — designing for a target market

Focus: The product focus of this studio was car interfaces and what each type of consumer would look for in the interface to best suit their own unique needs and wants.

Process: To increase idea generation and circulation, I worked in a small group in order to get alternate perspectives, and improve/build on previous ones. Additionally, we would exchange peers with other groups to furthermore increase the flow of brainstorming.

Step 1 — determining target market: As a group, our first step was determining different and specific consumers to market car interfaces to. Some ideas ranged from “people who eat and drive”, “children on board”, to “easily distracted person”. Next, we generalized what type of vehicle these consumers would most likely be driving; i.e. mini van, sedan, motorcycle.

Sitcky notes of target markets and their general vehicles

Step 2 — designing towards the target market: Choosing a target market and keeping in mind the market’s general assigned vehicle, we began to first brainstorm what this specific consumer may look for in their vehicle’s interface. My group’s target market was an easily distracted person on a motorcycle; thus we decided this interface needed to be small enough to fit on the body of a motorcycle with the option of limiting access to certain capabilities in order to minimize distraction and ensure focus on the road. Additionally, we included a fold up heads-up display to keep the driver’s eyes on the road as much as possible. To minimize distraction and attention needed to operate the interface, we decided to include only a small number of applications usable on the interface: music, navigation, hands-off phone, dash-cam (on/off), bluetooth settings, and general settings as seen here:

Our group discussing and designing the main menu

With these in mind, we started by drawing a flow chart of the menus linking to submenus. For example if the driver clicked the music tab from the main menu, it would link the user to the music menu. If a device was connected via bluetooth, the interface would display options to select music by artist, album, or song name in addition to general radio. If a device was not connected, the device would display an error at the top of the screen asking if the user would like to connect a device; clicking the error message, the user would be linked to the bluetooth connection page. However even when there is no device connected, the option of radio is still readily available. Each application from the main menu lead to a submenu that allows the user to select their next move, with the exception of the dash cam button which would simply turn on or off when selected. Remembering that our target market is easily distracted, the general settings menu includes the option of “stop go use” (subject to renaming) that allows the consumer to restrict themselves to use of the interface. If this option was selected, the applications would only be accessible when the vehicle was at a full stop, with the exception of the heads-up navigation.

Reflection: In the short time that was available, I believe we sufficiently completed the task at hand, attempting to keep in mind as many of the consumers’ interests as possible. However, due to time constraints, it was clear we had only just broken the surface of the design process for this target market; there were many other needs of the consumer to consider. Unexpectedly, the time constraint of the charrette also helped us in truly accepting that no idea was a bad idea, as there was no time to second guess. Some ideas that seemed awkward at first turned out to be the most promising in the end. I think interacting with other peers definitely increased awareness for myself and others of drastically different ideas that we could not have thought of ourselves. All in all, the charrette was a success.

The next step: With the experiences I’ve gained from this charrette, I believe the sizable group of 3 to 4 is ideal in that there are enough ideas flowing through the group but not so many that no decisions are ever made (due to the endless flow of thought). Additionally, drawing the user’s potential interaction with the interface was very helpful in organizing/visualizing ideas which then inspired new ones. In the future I would like to focus more on researching what the target market needs/wants rather than generalizing (however, this was also due to time constraints). In the future, I would like to focus on a more general target market and consider the product at hand from the perspective of specific target markets. In this way, the product will cover a larger audience while also addressing the needs of specific audiences.