HCDE 210 Week 1

In this week’s studio we completed a User-centered Design Charrette that used smart-vehicles as the topic of focus. A charrette is a short period of very intensive design, which in this case led to designing very specific smart-interfaces for randomly chosen clientele. My group, consisting of Erik, Karen, and myself, was assigned a librarian as the driver of our soon-to-be smart vehicle, which made designing a smart-interface a little different than I had imagined when first beginning the project. From normal features, such as GPS and audio systems, to more creative ideas, like on-board book catalogs, we came up with an incredibly specific, yet effective, smart-interface that a librarian would find helpful in a customized vehicle. Finally, we presented our multiple visual aids that consisted of interface needs, interface design, and a cute little comic that showed how our client may possibly use our product.

After completing all of these steps, I think my favorite steps were the interface design step (As seen in picture 2 on the top-left and top-right images), and the brainstorming that we did on sticky notes at the very beginning (Not shown). The actual process of developing and mapping out a product on paper was by far the most fun activity for me, but I think I have to give it to the initial brainstorming for most useful. After everyone was able to put their thoughts up on the board, I realized that my few ideas, while useful contributions, were very narrow-minded and lacked the broader scope that our full group of students brought to the table. I do wish that I had some more time on this overall project in order to actually map out a full product design to get the feel of what an entire product development feels like, but the time restraints that a sprint offers can be helpful to emphasize various points of the design process.

Looking towards the future, I think that the skills I exercised in the first sprint will be very helpful in our future group projects in studio. The faster pace of brainstorming and critical thinking got me to start thinking more on the user-friendly aspect of design and it made me broaden my focus to a much larger population than I normally think of. For example, in my group we had the librarian who was supposedly driving some form of library vehicle that had a library-specialized interface to make the librarian’s job easier. When coming up with useful features, my group focused a lot on the book aspect of the technology, like linking into a book catalog or being able to make deliveries. But when we started getting some help from the classroom assistants, things like promotional events for poor communities, fundraisers, and donations all became a point-of-interest in possible uses for a librarian. Though it isn’t realistic to think that a librarian would actually have an interface designed for this purpose, I must say that even just thinking about the possibilities made me think much differently than I have in any other course.

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