HCDE 210: User-Centered Design Charrette

“User-Centered Design is a design philosophy that puts users’ wants, needs, and limitations at the forefront of the design process. You design something — a tool, a website, an application’s user interface, an event — from the perspective of how it will be understood and used by a human user.”

The HCDE 210 studio work started with this definition of User-Centered Design, followed by designing a smart vehicle interface for specific groups of people. Throughout the charrette, we used sticky notes, markers and whiteboards: the commonly used UX tools.

Charrette Process

We first determined the different user groups that we would want to design interfaces for.

Then, we determined what vehicles these users might drive, along with what needs would be, in relation to smart vehicle interfaces.

After this, each team was given a user group to design a smart vehicle interface. We first imagined and sketched a scenario in which the user might interact with the smart vehicle interface. After determining the scenario, we laid out an interaction flowchart for that scenario, followed by sketching the user interface screens to help determine what those users would want to see and interact with.

Finally, we compiled all our work (the scenario, solution, interaction and screen designs) in a one-minute presentation in front of the whole studio.

My Experience

I had never designed anything in this way before. We had to brainstorm for all sorts of things: user groups and their needs, the features that would help them, and how they would interact with those features. I realised that the design process requires a lot of brainstorming and planning as we had to think about each and every feature while thinking about how the users might use them. At first I was clueless about what we had to do. But as the studio progressed, I was able to understand how we can think about the tasks given to us.

What I liked about this project

I had mainly taken theoretical and coding classes till now, so I had some idea about the lower-level stuff. But thinking about how a user’s needs and how they would want to interact with their product was something completely new to me. This whole process gave me an insight about user-centered design, and how the needs of a user can impact the design of a product drastically. It was also fun to work in a team and hearing many ideas from my teammates, which probably came from their own experiences.

How and Where UCD could be applied in the future

The user-centered design approach could be applied in various fields and not just limited to technology. It will be most important in projects involving products that will be used by a large number of people, since designers will have to think about different groups of people while designing their product. These include mobile phone interfaces, and even operating systems like Windows and macOS. However, it might not be that useful in smaller projects which will be used only for a much smaller community, especially if they “identify” themselves as one group of people. For example, the app used by people working in Apple stores are all technologically skilled, so designers don’t need to care about user-centered design in as large a scale as the former. I am really excited to see how this process can guide the designs of the future.