UCD Charrette Blog


During studio last week, we had a user-centered design charrette, which is an intense period of design activity that focuses the user’s wants, needs, and limitations at the forefront of the design process. First, we were introduced the context of the problem — “how might we redesign smart vehicles interfaces so that they better suit people’s needs?”. Then, we brainstormed multiple ideas that concerned users, vehicles, user groups, and user demand. Afterwards, we created scenarios for the user, sketched out the interaction flow and user interface screens, and presented to the class. The reason we are doing a user-centered design charrette is to get a sense of what it is like to be a designer working in the real world. We get a taste on each component of the designer’s job during the process of solving the given problem.

My scenario is about emergency vehicles finding the quickest route to avoid traffic. This is a picture of me designing the user interface for the emergency vehicle and the interaction flow.

This is a picture of me presenting the emergency vehicle scenario to the class.

I faced a few problems doing this project. For example, t first I wasn’t really sure what I was headed into when performing user centered design. I was simply following the guidelines given by my TA. Later as we move pass brainstorming ideas, I got better a sense of what I was doing and why it was important to complete all the steps in ideation. During the design process, I realized that group work can be troublesome and unproductive, especially when members have contrasting ideas they are unwilling to forfeit. I hope in the future, I get to explore a better way for a group to come to a consensus and improve productivity.

Doing this UCD project, overall, was a wonderful experience. The project enabled me to think hard and be creative. I felt the need for my brain to think faster to generate more ideas. The charrette process unlimited my thinking and enabled me to explore possibilities that may not occur to me on a daily basis. I also got a good grasp of the meaning behind this activity and a taste of what it feels like working in the field, which is valuable for me to see if I really like being a designer and majoring in HCDE.

In conclusion, this charrette project could definitely help to design actual prototypes in the future. The projects that have time limits and require working with groups could use the charrette approach in problem solving.These projects’ main goal would have to be exploring all possibilities. For example, if the designers need to come up with a brand new navigation pattern for smart phones, then they would have to use the charrette approach to come up with all kinds of creative interface designs. For projects that require critical, practical and considerable design, this approach would not be appropriate because bringing up new ideas may not help with ensuring the usability or the functionality of the product.

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