Campus Navigation Interactive Kiosk

September 2022-December 2022
Project Overview
This project was conducted as part of DTX 251: Introduction to Design Thinking at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This course is centered around the fundamentals of design thinking and human-centered design.

In this semester-long project, my team and I utilized key methods of human-centered design and research to ideate an interactive kiosk. The vision for this kiosk is to encourage students to feel more comfortable while navigating campus by creating a customized bus route schedule. 
My Role
Research & Design Team MemberUX Research, UX Design, User Interaction, Interviewing, Data Collection, Data Analysis, Prototyping, Wireframing

For the purpose of this portfolio, I will be highlighting the project areas which I lead, conducted, and participated in.
While a student’s journey to beginning college is an exciting time, many individuals face difficulties growing comfortable on their campus. At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the student body is made up of over 55,000 individuals with a campus spanning over 1,783 acres which can be overwhelming for many first-time students. Through this project, our team seeks to understand how public transportation on campus plays in a student’s experience of getting acquainted with their new location. This project conducts a holistic review of a student’s experience and then delves into specific issues surrounding the bus system on campus.
Research & Design Process
My team and I worked on this project over the course of a semester, beginning in September and concluding in December. This timeline depicts the research and development process throughout the semester.

Identifying the Problem
At the beginning of this project, we decided to focus on the UIUC student body as our target demographic. We were curious about how students utilized the MTD (Champaign–Urbana Mass Transit District) bus system on campus.

First, we began by conducting secondary research on the impact of public transport on high school and college students and current norms surrounding bus systems. We then decided to conduct interviews with UIUC students and identified different student experiences which we wanted to learn more about. We brainstormed student experiences that may affect their interaction with the bus system to begin deciding on general interviewee groups. 

For example, we wondered:
  • Is the experience of a freshman or transfer student living in the dorms different than the experience of an upperclassman living in an apartment?
  • Do students who were on campus during the online semesters of the pandemic have different experiences than students who were not?
  • Do different majors rely on the bus system in different ways?
  • How does gender affect a student’s experience taking the bus?
  • Do out-of-state students feel differently about taking public transportation on and off campus than in-state students?
  • How do students with a car on campus utilize the bus system?
Conducting Interviews
We decided to interview 10 students during this section of the project. We recruited students of various ages, hometowns, genders, and majors in addition to randomly chosen students. We conducted these 10 interviews for 30 minutes each over the course of two weeks. I personally conducted 4 of these interviews in addition to developing the interview guide and assisting with the other interviews. Throughout these interviews, we sought to understand the experience of students using the MTD bus system.

As we interviewed we hoped to understand the previous questions posed as well as:  
  • How do students currently use the bus system on campus?
  • How do students create routines utilizing the bus system?
  • Are the buses reliable to students in terms of punctuality?
  • Are the buses reliable to students in terms of safety?
  • How do first-time students feel about navigating campus?
For these interviews, we utilized Miro, a collaborative visualization platform, to take notes and tag the data with the interviewee’s basic information. This allowed us to organize the data and further understand how a student’s background and experiences on campus affected their use of the bus system. Here is an example of I how transferred written notes for and tagged an interviewee’s data:
Synthesizing Data
After conducting these interviews and organizing the data, I created an affinity diagram to further synthesize the data. We hoped to discover key patterns and themes in our data in order to prioritize a possible direction for our product. In this diagram, we categorized the sticky notes of data we collected from our interview into larger themes we found. Our previously used tagging system on the sticky notes allowed us to understand the background of each interviewee while visualizing potential issues to focus on.

By organizing our interview data in the affinity diagram, we uncovered a few key findings:
  • In order to use buses as part of their personal schedule, students rely on external apps (UIUC Bus, Illini Bus, Google Maps).
  • Students who rely on buses plan their day ahead by checking routes and times.
  • Students feel using public transport may be less safe during the night, but feel more comfortable with other students around.
  • Students who don't use the bus as frequently rely on other forms of transportation (walking, car).
  • Student prefer certain bus routes depending on the timing of buses.
Ideating a Solution
At this point in the project, we hoped to utilize a key theme we found in the data in order to ideate a product to help students use the bus system. We generated possible focus areas using the previously found themes as a basis in addition to insights and personas we created. These focus areas each encompassed a “How Might We” (HMW) statement as a method to prompt brainstorming in a specific area.

By categorizing these focus areas we developed from the data, we generated possible concepts to center our project around. We brainstormed various products and services we could create dependent on the focus areas we had identified. 

We continuously iterated through possible brainstorms until identifying a key issue that we sought to focus on in our project. We discovered in our interviews that many students who are new to campus feel disconnected from their peers. Further, they struggle to adjust to the bus system when first arriving and have a difficult time navigating campus. This further causes a sense of discomfort and can create a barrier to assimilation to campus.

Therefore, we decided we wanted to make a kiosk system that creates a custom bus route schedule for UIUC students that is accessible and free so that students are encouraged to use the bus system and feel more comfortable on campus. This kiosk will utilize a student’s i-card (UIUC student ID card) or student ID number in order to create a customized bus route schedule that can be printed or emailed. The goal of this kiosk is to help students feel more comfortable using the bus system to ultimately increase socialization and engagement with campus activities.
Illustrating our solution
After finalizing our project focus, we created a storyboard in order to understand a possible use case scenario of these kiosks and expose gaps we needed to address. We developed a narrative for the storyboard in which Jasmine, a freshman student, initially feels uncomfortable navigating campus. However, when she utilizes the kiosk system that is free and located in her dorm, she begins to grow more comfortable with the bus system and on campus.

After finalizing our project focus, we created a storyboard in order to understand a possible use case scenario of these kiosks and expose gaps we needed to address. We developed a narrative for the storyboard in which Jasmine, a freshman student, initially feels uncomfortable navigating campus. However, when she utilizes the kiosk system that is free and located in her dorm, she begins to grow more comfortable with the bus system and on campus.

After developing our storyboard, we conducted an evaluation of our storyboard with another set of interviewees. In these interviews, we evaluated the storyboard’s comprehensibility, the emotions it evoked, the posed logistics, and possible gaps to address. This evaluation allowed us to gain potential users’ perspectives on this kiosk system and understand areas to improve.
Testing Solutions
As we finalized our storyboard, we delved into developing the kiosk’s prototypes. In this portion of the project, I created a low-fidelity wireframe of the kiosk’s UI flow and the print receipts on the student’s customized schedules. These wireframes were then evaluated by another set of interviewees to find areas of improvement and understand comprehensibility. Further, these mockups were presented to our class in order to gain more feedback and constructive criticism.

Key Takeaways
In this class, testing the solutions was the final piece of our project. We then created a presentation to communicate our project to our instructor and class. By the end of this project, I was able to learn key design principles and apply my knowledge to developing this kiosk. I learned foundational methods in design thinking and collaborated with my team to understand and develop according to users’ needs.

Here are some major points I learned:
  • Empathy is not the only factor in understanding a user: While empathy plays an important role in UX research and design, it is not the only necessity in understanding a user. Empathy allows us to understand the user and their perspectives, but we must further employ methods of design thinking in order to optimize a product design.
  • Collaborating can pose challenges: Throughout this project, I greatly enjoyed working with my team members and grew as a designer through our collaborative effort. Juggling our personal and academic responsibilities while working on this project did pose some challenges and barriers to collaboration. However, through communication and open-minded effort, we were each able to grow closer as teammates and commit our best effort to this project.
  • Feedback is uniquely eye-opening: In this project, we conducted several rounds of interviews in addition to open evaluations from our peers and instructor. This feedback allows us to understand various perspectives and improve our design and ideation while working toward the final product. This feedback was eye-opening and vital to our growth within our project and as designers.
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