User Experience Designer
Team Conceptual Project | Teammate: Fiona MacBeth
Role: UX Research and Design
Duration: 4 Months
The pandemic and cost of living crisis has had a devastating impact on communities. Families have been experiencing financial difficulties and mental health problems. Many of them were reluctant to ask for help or did not know where to seek it.
iHUB at the Station is an information kiosk that brings vital services to one place with unlimited availability at all times, creating an awareness of the services, and empowering people with support and advice during the difficult times. Its benefits span out to all the stakeholders in the area by envisioning to increase the usage of local services by 10%.
The brief asked us to prioritise the social impact while considering the environmental impact and to make our design viable.
We began by conducting literature reviews to identify potential problems and form a clear focus statement for our project.
We immersed ourselves in the train station to observe foot traffic and how people interact with the space, noting the flow of people and objects they engage with.
We should have paid more attention to defining different types of commuters with their experiences.
Potentially it would have been great to enact or follow their journeys, playing their roles on the day of observations or the following day to increase our empathy towards them.
We surfaced resources from the Network Rail website that were on the topics of rail and community we came across on the Community Rail Network.
We arranged interviews with Network Rail officers, which allowed us to visit the train station and conduct our research.
We spent half a day at the train station, interviewing a diverse range of people, including Network Rail staff, students and elderly individuals.
However, the collected data was not too helpful to give us further direction as it was mainly about the quality of the station.
We held an ideation session where we utilized techniques such as brain dumping and the worst possible idea to stimulate creative thinking and identify the key areas of the project in which we were most invested.
We also used pictures and collages to visually convey our ideas and feelings.
We engaged in brainstorming, building on each other’s ideas, after warming up and being reminded of our key research areas from the previous exercises.
The discussions we had during this session were particularly valuable as they allowed us to explore different perspectives and ideas, and identify the most promising concepts to pursue further.
In hindsight, we realized we had underestimated the importance of the materials provided by the organizers and this turned out to be a major mistake. Our failure to fully utilize them led to incorrect assumptions and working on the wrong size train station, which was not in line with the project brief.
After deciding to pursue the kiosk/information board route, I used the findings from our quantitative and qualitative research with people from the train station to guide the wireframing and information areas and sections on the kiosk, applying the Gestalt principles of information.
I then created an initial home screen UI design for feedback. The design felt like a newspaper and had room for improvement.
I made two iterations, softening the shapes to make it more welcoming and creating more screens.
We did informal testing of the prototype but it would have been beneficial to ask more specific questions about how users find information and their overall expectations and experience.
It was challenging because we were working with a kiosk rather than a phone size and app, and we had to consider ergonomic issues such as the size and reachability of the prototype.
The prototype’s visual identity was influenced by the project partner, Network Rail.
In hindsight, we should have gathered community input on brand perception and preferred colours and created a task for them to suggest design ideas to make the prototype more representative of the community.
Our project was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which influenced negatively our opportunities to interact with people in person and also changed their behaviour.
We tried to reach out to community leaders in social groups to run an online questionnaire about our final proposal. Also, our attempt to present iHUB to the local MP was unsuccessful.
In the end, we should have created a three-dimensional prototype of the kiosk and installed it in the train station to gather more accurate feedback from the people. However, due to practical concerns and time limitations, we had to settle for a less realistic prototype instead.
We sourced too many materials that we barely had time to look through, this caused us to lose focus several times and not fully utilize the resources available to us.
We gathered a large amount of information during our exploration but did not effectively organize it. To improve this, we should have used more mapping tools and tapped into the advanced features of Miro where we gathered the research to distil the information down to the most critical pieces we needed for the project.
We should have attempted to run participatory design exercises with the community, where we could explore generative designs. This would have allowed us to involve the community even more actively in the design process and gather more specific insights on how to address the problems they were facing.
Click for the proposal link in case it does not load on the page.
The judges were impressed with the quality of work, systems thinking and technical skill. They felt the level of research and the holistic approach that you took was admirable and were excited to see how your design careers develop in the future.Feeback from the Royal Society of Arts (RSA)