Research, Paper Prototyping, Low-fi Prototyping, Hi-fi Prototyping, Information Architecture, Interaction Design, Motion Design, Photography & Videography
Sketch, Figma, Figmotion, After Effects, Premiere Pro, Principle
Mehul Shah, Miki (Xue) Bin, Cheyenne Ismailciuc
Human-Computer Interaction + Design,
University of Washington
Sep 2019 - Dec 2019
How might we help autistic adults achieve independence through learning transit etiquettes when riding public transportation?
Our goal was to successfully guide autistic adults that are inexperienced riders from their location to their desired destination.
By providing them reassurance before and during their transit ride through the use of location-based and contextual guides. Giving this user group the confidence to ride independently to their destination.
Design for Accessibility
Contextual Guidebooks. Besides receiving real-time alerts, users can review contextual guides, a collection of "books" on public transit etiquettes, before and during their ride to be better prepared for their transit journey.
Calling for Help. If in a high-stress situation, users can call for help from other Infinite Transit users, who will respond to the emergency by assisting with their immediate transit issue.
Sharing Experience. After successfully arriving at the destination, users can share their experience by commenting on guidebooks and submitting posts, growing as a community contributor.
Highlighted bus number on the route overview for the user to know which bus line they will be taking to their destination.
Breakdown of Bus Number and Time to Destination as well as the time allotted for walking/ riding is display with clear annotations.
Calling for Help
A Request Help Notification is prompted only when clicking the Request Help button on the main map screen, this will provide the user information about locating a potential passenger willing to help the user during their transit ride.
The progress bar gives information to the user about their journey on their ride, including ETA, contextual guides, locations, and review books (that includes other riders' encounter experience at that particular location).
Sharing Experience & Edits
Riders' are prompted with a choice to share their encounter experience at that particular location after they have completed their journey. The Edit feature allows the user to edit the text in a contextual guide and update it with the most recent information.
The Contribution Level Button directs the user to view their level as a contributor. The level bar indicates the user’s experience level through the transit experience.
Throughout these 13 weeks, my team and I divided our research and design process into three primary categories:
Double Diamond Process
* - I played a key role
** - I spearheaded my team
Research / 4 wk
Popular Media Scan *
Ideation / 5 wk
Concept Organization **
Down Selection **
Paper Prototyping **
User Flows **
Information Architecture **
Prototyping / 4 wk
Collaborative Brainstorming *
Low-Fidelity sketching **
Mid-Fidelity Wireframing **
High-Fidelity + Motion **
Autism is referred to as a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication.
We gathered our research reflecting this problem space:
3.5 million Americans live with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
½ million Will Enter Adulthood.
Autistic people are also characterized to have heightened social anxieties.
Autistic people have the same travel demands everyone has.
There are limited resources for Autistic people in regards to public transportation.
We gained valuable insights about our user group and the problem scope that needs to be highlighted:
Autistic people may have a harder time orienting themselves in a public space.
There is already a community of Autistic people sharing their daily experiences, trials, and successes on platforms such as Reddit and Twitter.
67% of participants in our survey say that they feel relief once getting off their bus ride.
Autistic people need explicit, clear instructions when going through their transit journey.
Even though autistic people may feel the need to give context to other passengers when riding transit, exposing their condition may make them feel uncomfortable.
Paper Prototypes and Probes
From our paper prototypes, probes, statistics, participant surveys, and interviews with UW Autism Center's psychologists and autistic adults, we learned that the current resources available to our users rendered them unprepared for independent travel both emotionally and practically.
Solidifying these concepts, we developed wireframes to represent each user flow. The three flows represent how an autistic adult would review contextual guides before, build muscle memory through gamified tasks during, and share their experience with other fellow community members after their transit journey.
(Sketched by Me)
(Sketched by Cheyenne)
(Sketched by Miki)
Initial Designs. [Click to enlarge on each mockup]
Testing our prototype with participants, we quickly gained more insight into our user group's mental model. Because of their need for explicit instructions, simple distractions and vague visuals hinder usability. From this feedback, we reassessed our design response.
Users had difficulty in navigation
All participants expressed their dislike for the cartooned visuals, being both childlike and vague in context.
Users liked sharing their experiences
Majority of participants, who engage with their community, strongly favor sharing opinions and ideas with others.
Game like experience was distracting
Gamifying the experience was fun for some, but participants expressed worry about it being a distraction.
Most prevalent app issues found from user testing
Iteration & Final Designs
From our user testing results, we developed our final app designs. In our final solution, we made sure to cater towards the wide spectrum of autistic users and their public transit needs.
Reflections & Takeaways
We found that these features were really useful to the user base we tested with. It gave them a sense of trust and guidance at every step of traveling in public transport.
Reflecting on the results we are looking into connecting our user group with allies of the community while also thinking about inclusivity. Since it’s unrealistic to expect two autistic people to ride the same bus in the same direction at the same time, we need to think of other stakeholders to be a resource when in need of help. Allies of the community are one group we would like to test with in the future.
Most importantly, I had the opportunity to work with a very different set of user base and this really expanded me as a designer to work on inclusivity.
I believe achieving inclusive design means that we iterate on our scope to anyone who easily makes errors on bus rides and how we can help them, including anyone with disabilities, non-native speakers, and first-time riders.