User Centered Design Charrette

What happened in the charrette?

Students posting specific need users on a white-board. Me in the background.

In the UCD Charrette, we went through the beginning steps of the design process. The core example that we were working with in the the charrette was a smart vehicle console. Our first task was to ask ourselves what kind of people would need our design and write them down on a sticky notes. My examples included truck drivers, inner-city workers, and the elderly. From there we were paired into groups and asked to come up with problems and solutions to those problems for a specific needs group. For example, my two groups were given the needs of “a person in an unfamiliar area” and “a single parent,” and we came up with the problems “being lost” and “having to distract a child,” respectively. From there we had to design a scenario from the problem and solution that we came up with using a six-panel hand-drawn sketch. We were then asked to design a flow chart and sketch out an interface for our solution smart-vehicle console in order to help actualize our design. At the end of the charrette we all presented our designs, my final design being a single parent dealing with a distracting child.

Presentation for the idea from my original group (A user who is lost in an unfamiliar area)

What does this accomplish?

This charrette acted as an introduction to the beginning steps of User-Centered design. The first part of the process, naming possible users, is the first step in user-centered design. We need to recognize what problems a person using a product, in this case a smart-vehicle console, might encounter and how we can help them. The rest of the charrette (creating a scenario, forming a flow chart, and designing an interface) are all important parts to not only presenting a design to a company, but also in actualizing a hypothesized solution.

Where do I go from here?

Now that I have basic experience from the charrette, I can implement some of these aspects in future designs and try to expand upon the techniques. I would like to be able to complete some of the more basic steps a lot quicker; things like coming up with a single user-problem-solution pairing should only take a few minutes. Another important thing that this charrette didn’t account for is that most designs of products are made to solve multiple problems, even if you are designing it with a very specific user in mind. But even if the charrette was a simplified version of the ideas, I now know to craft designs from the perspective of potential users, and have a focus on suiting their needs rather than designing for myself.

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