First off, I sadly missed the opportunity to do this activity with other students, so my process was done at an individual level. My experience will be slightly different from the normal student experience.
The activity consisted of different stages of design and was an abridged design process. While normally it would take days to weeks to come up with solid plans, the students in studio did in it 80 minutes.
The topic of the charrette was smart car interfaces and how to redesign them for more effective use. Below are the three main steps the design process involved and my reflection on the activity.
Using sticky notes to write down basic ideas is essential for User Centered Design. For this charrette, the prompt was to write down a user of the smart car, along with the vehicle they would probably drive. I considered three very different users. I wanted to think about the range of users of a smart car and find those on opposite ends of the continuum. A “soccer” mom became my target audience. The next step was brainstorming a situation in which altering a design of the interface would help. Since I do not know much about smart cars, GPS and directions came to mind as a possible complication with such a user. Specifically, a scenario where the driver has to take a car-full of players to a game and she does not know the location. I will describe the specifics and lay out the details in the next section.
With a basic idea and situation, I decided to expand on the concept of looking up directions in a hectic environment for the driver. In this instance, the car would too loud for voice searching and she is running low on time. My change to the interface allows for a third option for searching up directions. The ability to send a destination/directions to the car from a phone or internet connected device. This could be useful in this scenario since the mom’s son could use a phone to program where they are heading while the user is driving. I considered what a family would have in a car and what would be convenient to the driver and passengers. Below, I depict what I would propose for a new smart car interface, with increased access for searching and find directions.
Interactions and User Interface Screens
My changes to a standard GPS screeen are not major, just including a third option under search tools. This is added because sometimes users in the backseat are more technologically capable than the drivers. This encourages the drivers to focus on the road and not become distracted with directions or looking places up. My idea combines the on-board GPS with the very convenient mobile searching and sending of directions to the car. To make this process simple, the buttons for the interface are large and very basic. On-screen prompts and confirmations are used to guarantee the destination but are very minimal to not distract the driver. Also, this idea combined with obvious physical buttons on the dashboard of the car would make this very effective.
I’ve never gone through a design process before so this was a very beneficial process. In English classes in the past I’ve often analyzed rhetorical strategies to understand why authors use certain features in their writing. From the user centered design side, I learned about the basic process of an idea to a more precise interface. I can apply this to a variety of fields, honestly any academic field to ensure successful impact to an audience. As a user of devices, I am very surprised about the amount of time necessary to create a complex design idea. Because of the charrette, I have a new appreciation for UCD and the simplicity it can bring.
The next step of this project is to consult peers and ask for critique. It is not worth pursing a design if an average person would not use it, unless your user base is very specific. I am not sure how feasible my idea is for consumer use, but it would very convenient and would allow for the driver to keep focused on the road. Even though it would take more planning and reasoning to convince car companies to incorporate it, pursing my idea might be worth while.
In all, with my amended version of the charrette, I learned much about the individual process of user centered design but I would need to work with a group to experience the full effect. For my idea, I hope to keep it in mind as I continue in user centered design and HCDE.