Week 1: UCD Charette

Our Task

Our studio’s week one task was to complete a user-centered design charette. This fast-paced design challenge asked us to ideate and visualize a user interface of a car’s interior screen. To ensure our designs user-centered, each group was given a specific client to design for and a scenario in which the screen would be used.

The User: An elderly driver with impaired vision

In order to start thinking about a design for our user, we concluded that the elderly driver would need a screen that is simple, straightforward to navigate and not hands-on so they wouldn’t become overly distracted from their driving.

The Scenario: Driving at night

The scenario we decided on was if the elderly driver was driving in the dark, which would only further impair their vision.

Our storyboard for the scenario we created for our driving assistant console.

Design Solution: Accessible features

To address these issues, our design solution was to have a console that served as a “driving assistant.” This assistant would control features of the car that would improve road visibility, like lights and warnings. The assistant on the console could be voice controlled and would automatically ask the user out loud if it would like assistance when the weather conditions became severe or if it was dark.

The initial visualization of our console, controlled through both simple touch commands and voice.


Completing the charette allowed me to better understand the elements that go into the design process. Focusing on one user illustrated that the process of developing user needs into a design is complex and requires great consideration.

Questions that arose during this process mostly surrounded the breadth of information needed about a product’s users. For me, I felt like I needed to know from my user what more they would want, in case we had missed something crucial in our brainstorming and scenario creation.

An issue that our group faced was the time constraint, as a charette is very intense and fast-paced. With the time constraint, I believe it was more difficult for my group to ensure that our design was as accessible as it could be. However, it allowed us to gain practice working under pressure and to prioritize both our best ideas and our most pressing tasks.

After our studio, we reflected on what we enjoyed, what surprised us and what was difficult for us.

Looking Forward

I can see myself applying a form of this technique whenever I need to design with users in mind. Discovering how much needs to be taken into consideration for just one user, I realize how it will be both essential and difficult to keep in mind the needs of many users in future projects.

The projects I can apply this to the most will be those that focus on the user research aspect of design. Based on how I felt like I needed to know even more about the user, I will make sure that when I have the ability to do user research, it will be very thorough. This will be key in creating a solid conceptualization of the problem that will lead to thoughtful solutions.

The step creating scenarios will be helpful to apply to both future user research and usability testing. This will be helpful in user research because it will allow us to take further into consideration the needs of the user in different settings. In usability testing, having different scenarios ready will allow for the testing to be across different situations, allowing for a test of satisfaction in more than just one controlled environment.

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