User experience and interface design for an app that informs people about unsafe situations with real-time crime data.
"Using real-time data from community-submitted incidents and from the Seattle police department."
University of Washington Information School
User Experience Design
User Interface Design
Identify an information problem or need and then develop the approach and methods needed to address the problem, conduct the research and present the findings in both oral and written formats. The final piece is the Capstone event at the end of the school year where students get the opportunity to present their projects to faculty, friends, family, colleagues, and sponsors as well as a panel of judges to be considered for a number of awards.
Project development took place during the first 10-weeks of the class while the last 10-weeks was spent implementing our project with real data.
WHAT DOES SAFETY MEAN TO YOU?
We designed and sent out a Google survey to various family, friends, and coworkers via convenience sampling to gain a better understanding of our users’ safety habits. Some participants were also briefly interviewed afterward to elaborate on some of their responses. We wanted to know more about how our users perceived their safety living in Seattle and to learn more about what current devices or strategies they used to protect themselves while commuting. After coding and analyzing our results, we came up with the following conclusions that validated and provided insight for some of our initial assumptions:
USERS FEEL LESS SAFE WHEN WALKING ALONE, IN THE DARK, OR IN UNFAMILIAR AREAS.
This was an assumption that our team initially made at the start of our project and were not surprised by the nearly unanimous response set we received after asking our users to describe what circumstances they felt less/safer. Several participants also commented feeling safer when they were walking with a male friend while others commented that they consciously made an effort not to use their phone or take it out of their pockets while walking.
“SAFETY” MEANS BOTH PHYSICAL AND MENTAL WELL-BEING.
When asked “What does safety mean to you?” we received very similar responses related to the users’ desire to be physically out of harm’s way and also having peace of mind and not having to worry about being harmed, targeted, or assaulted. Users used phrases like “feeling confident, not worried”, “not having to question my personal well-being”, “absence of fear”, and “not having to worry about being harmed”.
YOUNG ADULTS DO CARE ABOUT THEIR SAFETY.
38% of our participants felt Seattle was a relatively safe city in comparison to other cities in the country. 53 participants said they regularly use emergency services such as UW Alerts, Husky Night Ride, as well as calling and messaging a friend during a commute.
UW ALERTS IS HIGHLY SUBSCRIBED TO, HOWEVER, MANY PARTICIPANTS FELT THAT IT WAS UNDERUTILIZED AND OFTEN TO VAUGE.
Interviewing our participants about UW Alerts validated some of our previous assumptions about their frustrations with the current system. Many participants mentioned only receiving ‘vague’ statements from UWPD hours or days after incidents, or not receiving alerts at all about “smaller” incidents like assault, robbery, or theft. None of our participants responded hearing about an incident as it was happening, and only 16.4% said they heard about it minutes after. Despite this, many of our interviewed participants expressed a desire for knowing this information in real-time.
ABOUT OUR USERS
Based on our survey data, we were able to focus on who we are designing for along with who we are not designing for by designating persona types that carefully aligned with our product vision. Our targeted users are commuters who rely on walking or biking as their primary mode of transportation.
USER DATA COLLECTION PLAN
USER JOURNEY MAP
During the early stages of brainstorming and ideation, we spent some time understanding what makes apps like Uber and Google Maps easy to use and navigate for first time users. We discovered that each of their primary function is accessible to users almost immediately after the app opens, giving users an instant call to action. We decided to follow a similar concept by having a map view be the first thing a user sees when the Safely app opens.
This type of emotional design is what motivated me to take on the role as the UI designer from the start of the project. I wanted to challenge myself to create a quality experience that looked and felt easy to use for first-time users by emphasizing concepts of minimalism. Successfully doing so would highlight the importance of Safely's data and core functionalities.
As much as I wanted to design a visually appealing app, I also knew it was important to create a functional user experience. At the core, Safely is designed to protect people from unsafe situations with real-time crime data, meaning that it was important to establish a sense of security during initial interactions. Having that as a key concept allowed me to really evaluate how well and intuitive each functionality performs before transferring my designs over to our developers.
At the end of the day, reflective emotional design is what matters the most to Safely. Once users find that our product has the potential to make an impact on their lives, we hope it keeps them coming back for more because it holds intrinsic value. Although it was critical to design our Safely app to look appealing and be usable, no value would be given to our product if users did not feel the need to use it for their protection.
On the evening of May 31, we presented Safely and its potential to protect commuters with real-time crime data at the Informatics Capstone Night. This event became the conclusion to our 20-week journey in making a social impact to the city of Seattle.