Week 1 UCD Charrette Process Blog

The first studio theme my team and I got to explore was user-centered design, a philosophy that focuses on users’ desires and accessibility.

Introduction

The main focus of this intensive design period was on the usability of a smart car interface.We explored the question,”how might we redesign smart vehicle interfaces so that they better suit people’s needs?” Four key components were incorporated in the process, including context, design, presentation, and reflection.

nCategorizing sticky notes into common demographics. In this particular example, the elderly, disabled, and Uber drivers

Context

To start out with, the context of the project included brainstorming and generating ideas about the uses of a smart car interface, potential target audiences, and the needs of such demographics. This was primarily done by writing ideas on sticky notes, sharing the notes on a white board, and later categorizing the sticky notes and discussing common patterns (as seen by the above photo). The reason for this step was to get ideas flowing and give the teams a base of examples to explore. Each team was consequently assigned a target group, examples of which include a teen who just got their permit, an elderly couple, someone who enjoys a high-tech vehicle, and a getaway driver. We them collaborated on the specific needs and wants of our demographic and began sketching a possible scenario for the respective drivers.

Sketching a possible scenario of our target driver, a high-tech enthusiast
Finished interaction flow and user interface screens

Design

In the following two photos on the left, you will find my team and I sketching a scenario for our driver, a high-tech enthusiast going on a road trip in his or her smart car. The following photo summarized the ‘design’ stage of the process, by illustrating the interaction flow for our chosen scenario as well as a sketch of the user interface screens. Our team chose to focus on navigation aspect of a road trip, and outlined the screens which would appear on our user’s voice activated navigation system. The illustration shows steps for locating a restaurant on the go, with meal options, price points, and star ratings. The design aspect is crucial in visualizing how users would interact with our product, and finding potential technical errors.

Our team presenting our interaction flow and user interface screens to the class

Presentation

The second to last step of our process was the presentation. This time limited showcase proved to be most challenging for my group, as well as many others. Groups had one minute to present their findings, and each member had to speak at least once. Time management will certainly be a key focus for future projects. Presenting findings and creations is perhaps the most important skill to master, as communication with colleges, partners, and investors helps everyone involved understand projects and concepts.

Reflection

Last but not least, a reflection of the project was held, in which groups were able to voice opinions about their challenges, surprises, and overall findings. Students wrote thoughts on sticky notes and placed them on a white board under the appropriate category (“what surprised you?”, “what did you learn?”, “what was easy?”, etc.) Some voiced their opinions in front of the class and later common patterns in the reflection were identified. Reflections allow for better understanding of what groups need to work on and what they were successful in and should continue to do. A reflection is a great way to summarize and remind ourselves what was accomplished, and motivate future projects.

Overall Opinions and Reactions

Overall, I had a great time getting familiar with this design process and working in a team setting. I thought the use of sticky notes and white board tables was an exciting, easy way to communicate ideas, and helped voice opinions of those who are perhaps too shy to share otherwise. Switching partners throughout the different steps also created for a fun, fast-paced environment, in which we were forced to updated and interact with new team members. The most challenging aspect for my group and I was time management, which is something I’d like to explore and work on during future projects. Some possible exercises would be practicing the presentation out loud before the real thing and timing one another. I hope to learn more about the different sketching and illustrating aspects on the design process, as well as how it interacts with the marketing field, as this is my target interest.

Application

The techniques exercised in this project are a great foundation for HCDE concepts, and will aid me through future projects. These steps of identifying context, design, presentation, and reflection are crucial for any such project, but perhaps a bit bare-boned. For more complex projects, where an actual working prototype may need to be created, there are certainly more complex steps and guidelines to be followed.

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