Wayfind Case Study
Updated: Sep 15, 2020
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The main goal of this project was to design a connected experience with various devices. Interactions between the devices needed to be seamless between hand off. In efforts to understand how connected systems interact with one another, we were tasked to integrate a multi-modal system to solve an intrinsic problem that we've observed in our day-to-day. Realizing that there's an obvious lack in accessibility services for those with low-mobility within public transportation resources, I set out trying to design for this gap within navigation with Wayfind.
Wayfind promotes independence for those whom need to rely on others for transportation. Wayfind hopes to utilize the newest technology to allow dependent low-mobility users to start gaining control over their environment and find confidence in their ability to lead autonomous lives– especially in multi-modal transportation. Using Wayfind’s technology integration, users can locate the nearest ADA compliant entryways using AR through the mobile app, prepare for environmental situations through VR, and provide options to monitor the conditions of their routes using Wayfind’s Alexa Skill. The entire Wayfind ecosystem hopes to propel accessibility assistance in technology by properly preparing and providing aid in self-navigation efforts.
Given the specific due dates of each components for the project, any research and usability testing had to be scheduled between the dates of the flowchart and video production.
Some initial competitive analysis was done to gauge Wayfind's feasibility and provided initial insights on features that would be beneficial within this type of service. With my initial interviews with both caretakers and those of low-mobility, their experiences were universal with transportation being heavily relied on by others and it took years, if at all, to learn and modify a car for low-mobility drivers. It was a general consensus that independence for traveling was an intense issue as those whom newly experience aided mobility, often feel infantilized in their limited motion and lifestyle changes.
Utilizing IBM's Enterprise Design Thinking, I incorporated the use of user sponsors throughout my entire design and validation process. Initiating two separate individuals with different experiences within low-mobility, they were able to provide insightful information regarding their specific struggles and needs when traveling around Denver. With the insights provided, I was able to model personas that were based off of real experiences and goals.
Both user sponsors had difficulties navigating the city sidewalks as resources and updated information is non-existent or aren't catered enough for their needs. A standout experience that "Alex" struggled with was having to find ADA compliant entryways, when traveling to new buildings there were times when she had to circle the building to find a ramp and then call the security on duty to escort her in– this experience lead me to design for the AR feature within Wayfind. "Devan", on the other hand, would experience hip and leg pain if they had to walk around sidewalk obstructions– this drove the design for "route preferences" and up-to-date information regarding the conditions of the sidewalk.
One of my biggest concerns when starting the prototype design is the continuity and streamlined integration between all the devices. It was incredibly important for all the platforms to interact well with one another and make sense within accessible navigation. Using the various forms of defining user flows, I was able to visually understand how a user will interact with Wayfind, and whether or not all devices are well integrated.
Using swim lanes, the user flow looked at how the user would interact with Wayfind based on their specific needs within the accessibility ecosphere. The chart allowed me to visually understand which device would be the primary platform the user will interact with; as mobile is the predominant platform, it only made sense to focus on that to be the entryway for all other devices.
User Task Flow:
Creating a user task flow was incredibly important to me to establish the feasibility of all the features. Being able to visually determine the devices interaction with one another allowed me to define and edit the interaction model to provide a more linear and concise experience.
The components table helped me elaborate upon the specific experience goals that each device would have within this ecosphere. It was important that each device had goals that supported one another but were still specific enough to be important to incorporate within the final Wayfind experience.
Testing for design validation, there was a general consensus that Wayfind would be extremely useful within accessibility. Despite my initial concerns with cohesion between the devices, testers agreed that the entire experience was cohesive and seamless. Overall, the prototype was able to provide useful solutions for the testers and was to comprehensively meet general needs from the low-mobility community with the provided features.
Despite the positive feedback, there were some concerns with logistics when it comes to feasibility in certain situations. One tester commented how difficult to use the AR feature if the streets are over populated, as it might be difficult to scan the environment in a wheelchair. Another very useful remark was how limited the types of navigation preferences are. Because I was entirely focused on public transportation as a means of autonomy in transportation, I didn't realize that self driving is another form of independence that some have to utilize as public transportation is not entirely feasible to some. Commentary about finding handicap parking is extremely important as parking spaces within inner cities are difficult to come by and often causes stress for drivers.
Finalized Video Demo:
The sole purpose of the video was to capture the user's experience within the different devices and define the overall goal of Wayfind.
The video demo was produced and edited by me.
Because this was a project done by one person, it was a bit difficult to run through the typical UX procedures that's necessary to design Wayfind to the best it could be. There were certain resources that were a little difficult to come by: like complying a user testing database without any access to funds or monetary compensation. Being able to rely on connection alone that I was only able to grant access to was due to sheer coincidence. A large majority of my testers came from my business professor, whom has incredible connections to Phamily Theatre Company: "a creative home for theatre artists with disabilities". Due to the time restraints, the timeline to allow for user testing was also shrunk down as guerrilla testing became the predominate form of testing.
This was an immensely fun project! Being able to design for multiple devices was a form of brain-twister that forced me to remain as human conscious as possible as I tried to design an ecosystem that heavily affected accessibility concerns. Going into this project, I recognize that these concern were something I've never been able to understand due to my own privilege in mobility. However, being able to communicate so heavily with my user sponsors, I was able to learn about all the complications that riddle the accessible community when it came to things as easy as navigating from one building to another. Tech is definitely not designed with accessibility in mind, that realization is so incredibly powerful as I continue to expand my knowledge of accessible design practices within UX.