Team Project @ UM
December 2022

Amble: Pedestrian Navigation App Design

Focal area

UX design, UX process

Tools

Illustrator, Miro, Figma

Deliverables

UI screens, UX flow, prototype
Amble: Pedestrian Navigation App Design

Project Overview

Amble: pedestrian navigation

Based on crowd-sourced information about obstacles and other elements present in the environment, Amble enables pedestrians to make informed decisions during their walking commutes.

Amble:

  • Provides users high-level and up-to-date information about hazards in their environment. 
  • Allows users to make informed and flexible decisions about their walking commutes. 
  • Enables users to make self-reports about obstacles or hazards in the environment.
  • Offers gamified approach to pedestrian navigation. 
  • Creates a database through which communities can access information about underserved areas.

This project looks at defining the problem through basic research, problem space exploration, and several stages of design iteration and evaluative research.

Execution

Initial Problem Statement

💡 THE GIST: We essentially want to answer the following question--how might we make walking commuters feel safer?

Transportation continues to be a priority for people of all demographics; in particular, individuals who do not rely on personal motor vehicle resort to a variety of alternative modes to get from point A to point B. We wanted to explore how people interact with their environment and the intersection of safety with personal commutes; thus, the question: 

How might we enable individuals who commute using non-personal motor vehicles, particularly in last-mile situations, to better make informed decisions, thus enabling them to feel safe and confident through every point of their commute?

Interviews

💡 THE GIST: After conducting interviews, we felt the need to revise our problem statement to better reflect our goals. Users indicated a desire for awareness, not a specific desire for "safety."

👥 Participants: 8

🎲 Ages: Distribution from teenage to middle-aged

🌎 Geography: Distribution of both downtown urban areas and semi-urban areas

🚗 Transportation: Included biking, walking, driving, and subway/public transportation

🔎 Common themes: Road conditions, other people, lighting, preparation [for taking public transit], and time of day

These two quotes encapsulate one of our key findings--other people--by shining light on how commuters value others' opinions and how others' presence may be comfortable or implicitly uncomfortable depending on familiarity:

  • P6: I rarely walk to unfamiliar places, walking alone is dangerous in a certain area in LA. I always check the crime data, crime reports and ask local friends for advice before visiting an unfamiliar place. And last week in SF, I took BART and intentionally went to a busy station to take the train, instead of the nearest one.”
  • P1:“Level of safety I feel when using public transit is dependent on the time of day. If it is daytime, and I am with friends, I feel safe, but if it is night time, I get uncomfortable.”

💡 Takeaways: After conducting our interviews, we felt it was necessary to revise our problem statement for two reasons: (1.) "safety" is a nebulous concept, and (2.) our problem was clearly one of awareness, where safety was an after-effect of being aware or unaware.

Revised problem statement

We're now addressing a new question--how might we make a service that enables pedestrians to make better informed decisions during their walking commutes based on crowd-sourced information about obstacles and other elements present in their environments?

Personas

💡 THE GIST: We developed two personas that represent two different use cases for our service; the first is focused on using the service. The second wishes to contribute to it.

Using our interviews, we developed two personas: Alex and Michelle.

Alex is our primary persona and wants to use the app to discover obstacles, gain accurate data about his environment, and make better decisions about his commutes. Walking is one of his primary modes of transportation, hence his motivation for using the service in this way.

Michelle is our secondary persona; she is most interested in contributing to the app as she is highly involved in her community and walking is a hobby rather than a form of transportation for her, rendering the app extracurricular rather than necessary.

These personas informed scenarios, which are linked and may be read below.

Storyboards

💡 THE GIST: These storyboards explore the ideas of routes that are non-direct but avoid undesirable obstacles, sharable reports that alert other app users, and live en route rerouting as new crowdsourced reports are received.

We then developed two comprehensive goal-based scenarios for these personas; Alex's is based on consuming information provided by the app, while Michelle's is based on providing information. These scenarios helped to inform our storyboards.

Alex is headed somewhere when his route is obstructed; traditional navigation lacks live updates, so he was unaware of the change. As a result, he is late. Using Amble, he is able to get more up-to-date information about his environment and avoids obstacles he would like to avoid, ultimately getting where he would like to go with less frustration, even if it is technically a less "linear" route.

Michelle is very active in her community, and also often takes her dog on walks. While out on walks, she makes reports about the environment, such as a street light that is out, which has made the street rather dark and eerie. Several neaarby people see Michelle's report update their navigation live, and Michelle is happy to have the opportunity to help others.

One of Michelle's young neighbors is headed home from work late; her typical route would go past where the street light is out, but because Michelle reported it and this individual's settings indicate she prefers bright walkways, she is rerouted to a better-lit path. She continues her walk comfortably and gets home safe and feeling satisfied.

User flows

💡 THE GIST: Based on the needs determined by the personas' scenarios and the personas' storyboards, the following preliminary flow was developed to show basic functionality.

After exploring storyboards and having all team members explore individual flows, we came together to discuss and refine; as a result, we defined a preliminary flow that included logging in, creating a profile/preferences, an activity page (viewing your past reports/impact), community (a not-yet fully developed gamification aspect), settings, the reporting functionality, and a flow through navigation, which includes allowing the user to brute force through the most direct path (which may include reported obstacles/hazards), or taking the recommended route, which will avoid hazards.

(Drag and drop to a new tab for full scale.)

Paper prototypes + preliminary wireframe

💡 THE GIST: Paper prototypes were generated using the user flow from the previous step; these paper prototypes were directly translated into a one-to-one wireframe with partial interactivity.

The above wireframe functions in a linear manner where each screen directly leads into the next; this was translated into the below wireframe, which is shown four screens at a time.

Initial testing + modification

💡 THE GIST: Focal areas for improvement moving forward from the wireframe included clarity of icons, navigation, interactions within the app, and generally better meeting user expectations.

Testing was conducted using the wireframe from the previous step above.

Feedback was incorporated to move into the next prototype, which can be viewed here. Below are a few screens from said prototype to give you an idea of the transition from wireframe to mid-fidelity.

View the mid-fidelity prototype here.

Usability testing + modification

💡 THE GIST: The toggle to avoid feature and reward redemption features posed significant issue for users; icons within the app continue to need refinement. Information architecture within some pages may also need adjustment.

The mid-fidelity prototype used in this stage of testing can be found here.

The hazards toggle received behavioral modifications (pushing other items down the screen), a distinct color to make the toggle menu more visible, and additional clarity in the form of "ON/OFF" displayed on the toggles themselves for additional clarity.
Previously, the only indicator to show a reward was purchased was a reduction in the user's point total and a check mark, with the item applied highlighted in brand colors. A pop up requiring user confirmation was added so that users would know their purchase was complete.
Some users indicated confusion over various buttons, such as the hazard report button, which, to them, seemed to indicate an error in the system. The iconography of the app was redone for clarity in order to reduce confusion.
While there is more work to be done on the information hierarchy, one such change was made with the hazard reporting. Based on user feedback that they were inconspicuous, hazard confirmation prompts now temporarily usurp navigation data for a brief period of time, which also reduces user finger strain by eliminating the need to reach to the top of the screen.

Final flow

💡 THE GIST: We modified the behavior and semantics used in the hazard toggle, as well as modifying the icons used throughout the app. The rewards page was given additional confirmation. Information hierarchy requires additional, in-depth review, and was temporarily tabled in order to give it the focus it deserved, though some changes were made.

Results

Amble: pedestrian navigation

Based on crowd-sourced information about obstacles and other elements present in the environment, Amble enables pedestrians to make informed decisions during their walking commutes.

Amble:

  • Provides users high-level and up-to-date information about hazards in their environment. 
  • Allows users to make informed and flexible decisions about their walking commutes. 
  • Enables users to make self-reports about obstacles or hazards in the environment.
  • Offers gamified approach to pedestrian navigation. 
  • Creates a database through which communities can access information about underserved areas.

Conclusion

Given more time and the opportunity, I would love to focus on more areas of this project:

  • Information architecture: some pages could use revision and exploration to improve clarity or simply to reduce mental load/time spent by the user.
  • Additional testing: some significant changes were made based on usability testing results; verification or disproval of these changes through additional testing would be worthwhile.
  • Depth of feature: some features, such as rewards, could use additional fleshing-out to increase their depth and meaningfulness.
  • Social impact: the app includes a social impact element focused on community engagement and empowering communities through data, which could use further exploration, as well.