User-Centered Design Charrette

A charrette is a fast and intense design activity used to quickly come up with creative ideas and solutions from a design standpoint. In this paticular activity, my team and I brainstormed users of a smart vehicle interface, needs of one of the users we came up with, and an interface design for one need identified.


After brainstorming multiple kinds of users and their vehicles on sticky notes and grouping them together to visualize our thoughts, our team was assigned with the user defined as an elderly person who does not know how to use technology. We then used sticky notes to write possible needs this person has and talked about each need to understand the user. The need we chose to focus on was the need to get to a new place.

My teammate (left) and I (right) writing potential user needs on sticky notes.


With the need of our user in mind as well as the users limitation of not knowing how to use technology, we came up with a solution and design for the smart vehicle interface. We designed an app that would allow another person to send directions to the user’s vehicle and then the user could accept those directions on their touch screen device located in the middle of the cars dashboard. This meets the user’s need to get to a new place by giving them directions to get to their destination and satisfies their limitation of not being technology savvy. We presented our design using a scenario sketch and user interface screen sketches to be able to display and articulate our vision for the smart vehicle interface.

My team and I (far left) presenting our design and showing our user interface sketch.


Overall I liked the process of a charrette. The fast paced tempo of the process kept creativity flowing instead of stopping to worry about the design being absolutely perfect. I also liked coming up with multiple types of users and needs with sticky notes to be able to visualize them and arrange them in groupings to understand what can most likely be solved together and what would most likely have similar designs because they are grouped together.

In my future as an engineer I hope to be designing technology that aids people in everyday life. A fast paced designed process, or charrette, will be used in my future as a starting board for designs as it allows me to think about what first comes to mind of the user’s needs, wants, and limitations, without worrying about the bugs I may have to work out later.

In the more near future, I can utilize the charrette in my involvement with the UW ADAPT team. This team I have been a part of helps alter toys for children with mobility disabilities so they can still learn through play like other children. The charrette can help me in this scenario by coming up with a new approach for a specific child. I can quickly anaylze their wants, needs, and limitations, then offer a creative solution to start with. Especially in a lower risk design such as altering a children’s toys, a charrette will be effective in offering a good solution without wasting valuable time.

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