User Centered Design Charrette

Charrette, in french, refers to a horse cart. However, it also corresponds to a fast-paced, intense design activity. On January 6th, we — the studio and I — partook in a similar activity where we step-by-step thought of user needs and solutions to those user needs in the form of vehicles. We began by discussing different car navigations and what scenarios and functions they may serve. From the standard GPS with buttons to the GPS touch screen to the Tesla web browser enabled navigation system, each had a different user it was intended for.

We were divided into groups of 3 or 4 and provided with an initial task: individually think of atleast 3 users and 3 vehicles and write them on a sticky note. Details are always welcome and the more creative the idea the better.

While a pogo stick for every day usage would not be practical, its navigational system could be something to work with.
Sticky notes on a board classified under users and vehicles.

We were then reshuffled so we could work with fresh faces as each group was assigned a user and a vehicle. My group was assigned a man with disabilities that would impair his/her driving abilities and a mini van as the mode of transportation. The second step was to think of user needs given the specific user. We brain-stormed almost 15 and decided the most important user need for this person could be spatial awareness. Therefore for the next step, we chose this as our focus to create solutions.

Step 3 included the story board. In what scenario would the user in question need a solution to his spatial awareness. Our story included a man who had bad night vision and so a man who leaves for work in the morning can drive perfectly but has trouble in the car while driving back from work at night.

The next step, therefore, highlighted the interaction a user would have with the device we intended to ideate; showing how a user gets through the task he/she intends to fulfill.

Working on the car navigation layout.

Step 5 was the final sketching part which indicated how the user interaction flew. Our idea included changing the wind shield to illuminate the road in front of the driver as well as include small camera widgets on the windshield to let the driver know what the traffic was like on the sides and behind the car. In addition, the driver was allowed to pick the time he was driving through — day or night — and the traffic level, allowing the device to give him extra functions for night & high traffic.

Presenting our user, user’s needs and the outcome solution to the rest of the class.

Finally came the time to present our idea. While we had a concrete idea, it was;t fully thought out. I feel like if we had more time, we would have spent more time on discussing where to display the widgets and if the changing windshield was the best idea. Furthermore, it would have been interesting to know what other disabilities we could have worked with if we hadn’t chosen a man with impaired night vision. The possibilities are endless and the time short which was an extremely tough part of this project. To ideate in a fast-paced environment with a time crunch makes you realize how you need to have faith in your ideas.

I would apply this technique in the future hopefully in internships. I also like writing and I go through this many a times. I have to go through multiple ideas and edits to finally get a piece of poetry or prose I am happy with and even then I feel like there is room to work. This technique therefore is very helpful in multiple scenarios.

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