UCD Charratte

Mar. 31st 2017

A charrette is fast, intense design activity. In the charrette we did in the studio sections, we explored the heart of our human centered design practice, called user-centered design. It’s a design philosophy that put users’ wants, needs, and limitations at the forefront of the design processes.”

A. Procedure

a. Outline

➢Design (50 min)

- Users

- User needs

- Interactions

➢Presentation (10 min)

➢Reflection (10 min)

Fig. 1 Interaction flow for the scenario: city commuters looking for parking spots

b. Specific Steps

In the user-centered design process, the topic we need to explore is “How might we redesign smart vehicle interfaces so that they better suit people’s need? ” We all started as groups of three. The first step we did was to brainstorm the different kinds of specific car users such as “the blind people”, “basketball players”, and “parents”. We wrote down these ideas on sticky notes and put them on board after three minutes.

Then one group member from each group chose a specific group of user from the board and brought it to a new group. Our group’s user is who “drives sports car and hates traffic light”. With this very specific and interesting group of users, we brainstormed their needs. The ideas we came up with were “speed alert”, “calculating the fastest route”, “avoiding traffic”, etc. Next, based on these needs, we created scenarios of which the car users may confront and corresponding designs that may help with solving the possible problems.

In another round of switching groups, I came to a new group whose group of car users are city commuters who need to minimize traffic time and find parking spots quickly. Given the new scenario, I made quick adjustments. In the next step, we came to create the interface of a car system that meets the users’ needs. I recalled both of the interfaces of Google Map and GaoDe Map (a widely-used Chinese map App) and came up with the idea of starting the interface with “Home”, then “My Location” and “My Destination”. My group members agreed with my ideas and so we moved on with designing interfaces that directed to save traffic time and finding the prime parking spots with choices of the cheapest, nearest, safest and most available.

The following step required us to draw out the corresponding interfaces from the last step and so as to demonstrate our ideas visually. My team member started it off by drawing the “Home” screen. And I honestly was no good at drawing. But I really wanted to contribute to the illustration. So I continued with her drawing and tried to recall how the interfaces I see everyday when I use the map. It was this step that have I realized designers should be really watchful about their daily experiences with various kinds of systems and products. In this way, when they create they own ones, they have a database in mind to refer to and thereby make improvement on. I drew the interface from the images I collected from my memory and my group members encouraged me a lot. I appreciate this positive and motivating working environment a lot because before reaching to a final product, the design processes are full of mistakes and imperfections. So encouragement is essential to cheer the team up and allow growth of trust and faith in each other, who are under the same mission to achieve better designs.

By the end of the class, we made presentations of our interface design for city commuters with the flow chart and poster we made in the last steps. When I actually presented to the whole class about our idea, I realized having the designs is only the first step. The more important idea is to “sell” it, which is to let the audience feel they need it as the products are designed for them and their demand determines whether it’s a good design.

Fig.2 We sketched out user interface screens that match the interaction flow

B. Reflection Outline

  • Switching group members bring many more fun and new ideas.
  • Specialization of work makes the team more efficient.
  • Limited amount of time urges fast thinking.
  • To create user-friendly products, designers need to be good at catching details in their own daily experiences with different kinds of products.
  • Ideation never goes wrong! Designing is a process of filtering, selecting and prioritizing different available choices.
  • Designers need to “zoom in” to search for details as well as to “zoom out” to look at the process as a whole.
  • Encouragement!

C. Application to the future

“Ideation never goes wrong.”

The urgency of time here is a stimulant to generating ideas. It needs fast speed of thinking and full concentration. Even though the ideas got at the end of the session may not be fully developed, the amount and breadth of the ideas help with filtering out the unnecessary information later on. So in the future, I will use the same strategy when I first approach a design project. I also learned from this studio that having people from another group could provide the team with totally new perspective. So in the future project, I would listen to more opinions from different people.

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