[HCDE210 — Sprint 0] UCD Charrette

In the first studio, we were introduced to a term called Charrette. Charrette is a fast, intense design activity. As we did in the studio, being randomly assigned a group of a certain kind of users group.

Putting sticky notes with ideas on the white board


The goal for the whole studio is to design the interaction user interface of smart vehicle to better serve the need of targeted users. To be more specific, the task for my group is to design the user interface of a car for tourists who are traveling in U.S and need emergency medical help. Since the theme of this studio was about user-centered design, we started by coming up with a possible scenario about our users: travelers are not familiar with U.S medical care system and may not know where and how to go for medical help.

Ideas about possible users groups from the class.

Collaboration played a crucial rule in this process. Each group member contributed ideas in this design process. By illustrating this scenario, we tried to identify our users’ needs, which was that tourists may want to call the hospital or want to drive to the hospital on their own. For example, one might want to take his pregnant wife to the hospital instead of calling the ambulance.

Collaborating to design the features for our users.

To better understand of how we might help our users, we came up with an idea of introducing a function page on the interaction screen which includes certain features designed specifically to help the tourists seek for help.

Presenting our group’s idea in front of the class.


The charrette somewhat changed my view about design. I used to think that in a design process, one would first come up with an aesthetic design, and then throw the design to users. After this charrette, I learned to put myself in users’ shoes. This process helped make better products that better serve users’ needs.

Group collaboration is another crucial theme in the studio. By collaborating with people from different domain, we can address the problem from multiple different fields and integrate thoughts into a product bigger than any of us. However, we cannot always reach on an agreement that easily. We argued about whether or not we should include other emergency functions in our design considering that some tourists may also need to call for helps other than medical help, such as police, in some situation. Finally, we reached our agreement that we could include some bonus functions in our design, but our main focus was still providing people with medical needs.

Drawing a flow diagram to help figure out what functions do we need to include in our design.


I personally enjoyed this studio in that it condensed the feeling of conducting UCD in an hour-long activity. I was introduced to UCD and forced to take on the role of an actual designer. Moreover, the time limit made the process challenging. I wouldn’t move on to the next step until I felt fully prepared for the present step. But the time limit in the charrette kept pushing me forward. Although it’s challenging to come up with a good idea in such a short amount of time, before that I didn’t realize that about how much I could achieve in such a limited amount of time. I also really enjoyed seeing how my original idea was developed and refined by other groups.

What’s next?

Nowadays, tourists prefer to travel independently rather than as part of a tour. Independent travelers must be able to acquire a variety of information in a very short time. With a smart interaction system like we designed in this charrette, this problem can be addressed. Smart interfaces on a car can be designed with more accessibility to serve the needs of certain groups, such as solo travelers. Cars can predict tourists’ needs rather than having people manually ask for information. Technology helps people to achieve what was once impossible. Projects like this that target a certain interaction design problem can borrow from the techniques we learned in the studio: Conducting research on a certain group of users’ need before designing a targeted solution that meets their needs with the help of technology.

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