To get a taste about what User-Centered Design is, I did my first studio as charrette. I get to, for the first time, work with different people in different groups to come up with ideas and produce design scratch about a design topic, which, in charrette, is redesigning smart vehicle interfaces to make them more suitable for different people’s needs.

Here’s a picture of my group presenting our work.

We designed a self-driving and voice-censored vehicle that’s subjected to blind people, because without being able to see, it is very hard and almost impossible for blind people to drive at least in the current day context. This design work of ours put forward an idea that with the advancement in technology and design, people who are blind should also be able to drive.

As you can see in the picture, we set up a scenario, which in this case is going to the grocery store, to demonstrate how the vehicle drives the blind person to the grocery store. In the scenario, the user has a remote that can lock and unlock the car’s door and make the car beep. Also the car is able to understand the user’s voice instruction and search the location of the grocery store automatically. Then the car self-navigate to the grocery store. After the user buy groceries, the user tells the cars to go home and the car self-navigates to home. Besides the scenario, we also designed the interaction interface for the car.

The interface is a good combination of visualization and voice prompts. It not only visualizes the options such as to lock/unlock the car, open the trunk, list of destinations and maps, it also reads out all the options and current locations and directions showing on the map.

So What?

During the process of charrette, I think the biggest problem I encountered was to brainstorming for different types of users and types of cars that can specifically designed for the user. The best way to address this problem, in my opinion, is to have a more comprehensive understanding about the users’ special needs, habits of using cars, and features and functions of vehicles that currently exists in the market. In other words, to solve the problem, doing user research and do it well is essential. Except the problem I had, I really enjoyed doing charrette, because it improves my communication skills by making me work with different people and expands my creative thinking by having me see how different people approach the same general topic with different ideas and perspectives.

Now What?

In the future, I think charrette, an intense period of design activity, will be applied frequently, because I will be doing lots of design work especially when I move into the sprints of ideate and prototype, and doing charrette can get the most ideas out of me and help me produce prototypes more efficiently. However, charrette is not very suitable for doing user research, because to have a product that suits the subjected users well, the user research needs to be detailed and comprehensive. That is to say, instead of doing work in a fast and intense way, I need to put in lots of time and patience to complete and perfect my user research.

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