First Take on User Centered Design

To be honest, I don’t know much about design or how design works. I also don’t like to be rushed. But my first taste of user center design surprised me. The topic for the user center design charrette was the GPS in cars. We were practicing fast paced charaette. It was split into three parts, the user, the scenario, and the design solution.

First step was thinking about the user. As a team, we had a few minutes to brainstorm and write down what kind of users would use a GPS on a sticky note. We wrote down everything that popped into our heads even how silly it was. We wrote down celebrities, Uber drivers, truck drivers, and families that do road trips. Then we thought about users who can use GPS effectively like the disabled and the elderly. We thought about the disabled and elderly because we thought about people who might have trouble using the GPS. Each user was a different sticky note and by displaying the sticky notes, we could build off each other and sprout out new ideas. We could categorize users into groups like drivers for work purposes to family drivers. After time was over, all our colleagues and ourselves posted sticky notes onto the wall for everyone else to see which leads to the next process, the scenario.

I was to pick a user on the wall which was a tourist. I picked the tourist because I wanted to see how I can design a GPS that would have helped me when I went to Seaside, Oregon for vacation. The first tasked we were given was to brainstorm things our user would need from a GPS. I first thought about problems and wants a tourist would need. Tourists would want to find the closest shopping center, place to stay, restaurants, attractions, and information centers. Tourists have trouble with directions and finding things to do. Now I wrote down features a GPS could have to be a perfect tool for tourists in new locations. Features like mapping shopping centers, attractions, hotels, restaurants, and information centers with a built in easy to use directions to these locations. Having a filter to give the tourist a list of things to do based on the user’s needs. Once we thought about what this GPS can do for a tourist, we created a scenario. The scenario was, a tourist wants to find a shopping center near them. So, they select the shopping icon on the GPS interface and is now sent to a interface where the user can filter what type of shopping they want to do. They would then select shopping center and the distance then submit. They would then have an interface with a list of shopping centers based on the filters and the popularity of the store. Once the user selects the store then they would have directions displayed on the GPS to the specific store the user chose. This scenario showcases the tourists needs in finding what to do for the day and get to the location easily without spending an hour thinking about what to do for the day. Once we created the scenario we move on to the design solution.

As a team, we designed the solution we envisioned. By thinking about the user in hand and the problems and wants tourists have. We created the user interface for the GPS. In the main menu, we have icons for different things that tourist will find convenient. Icons like music, shopping, map, information, attractions, hotels, restaurants, and settings. We created a filter for each of these icons so that they can get places based on their needs. Needs like convenience, distance, and popularity. The GPS will create a personalized selection of what they might want to do for the day. Once the tourists select a location, they will then have an easy to use direction system which displays heavy traffics and the fastest route. Tourists face problems like finding what to do and what are there to do in the location they visit. Our solution will give the tourists the best vacation they can have with this design.

My favorite part about the sprints is changing teams. When I transferred into a different team I saw what they have accomplished. Based on the things they have done; I could bring a different perspective to the table and improve on things that they didn’t see. Fast paced brainstorming was a great way in generating a huge variety of ideas. Why I liked the fast paced brainstorming is because you don’t have to think if the idea you thought of was dumb or irrelevant.

I could use user centered design in every aspect in my future. Something I would like to do in the future is work with virtual reality. The problem I want to solve is how to overcome phobias. Based on the problem, I can use the user centered design to design a solution that will help the user overcome their phobias. Using a user centered design would not be appropriate in cases like art. Art don’t solve problems that user face through art. Art is subjective and can be not functional.

User centered design is the start to innovating solutions. I know that I will be using this technique in the future.

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