Park Pal

An app to facilitate information about accessible features of outdoor space.

Park Pal was part of a mastery course project at the University of Michigan School of Information. I was the primary designer in a team of three leading this project in ideating early concepts, running design sprints, regularly presenting to leadership at UM, designing and delivering final assets, and creating a promotional video.

CASE STUDY - 3/22; UX Designer / UX Researcher / Graphic Designer

Project Summary

THE PROBLEM 

Many proposed solutions to outdoor inaccessibility present alternative challenges for the user and park tenders, including the inability to see accessibility standards ahead of time, outdated information on signage, and unclear or hard-to-find signage. Mapping initiatives typically only cover places like sidewalks and not parks/trails.

Additionally, existing technologies to connect users with park and trail information lack emphasis on accessibility. Our team aimed to create a design solution for the lack of resources to connect users with valuable, clear, and accessible information on navigating parks and trails for people with disabilities related to mobility.

PROJECT GOAL

Create a design solution for the lack of resources to connect users with valuable, clear, and accessible information on navigating parks and trails for people with disabilities related to mobility.

We conducted  INTERVIEWS with four users with disabilities related to mobility and elderly individuals. We reached out to family and friends who enjoy outdoor activities and fit within our target user group.

We also conducted ETHNOGRAPHIC research by going to local Ann Arbor parks and observing and photographing features related to accessibility.

We aimed to learn about three question categories: General Mobility (to understand how different disabilities affect mobility in various environments); History of Park Use (to have a general understanding of how our user group uses parks and trails); Accessibility Accommodations (to understand how accommodations related to accessibility are used and how their existence was made known to park goers.)

Research Process

Key Findings

Design Features

Evaluation Process

We made LOW-FIDELITY WIREFRAME SKETCHESof an app focusing on the four key features from our findings.

We conducted a COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS of our sketches to the highly rated application, AllTrails (along with other information tools), to see what features we were missing in our sketches, what features were missing in AllTrails, and what we could improve upon in our sketches.

We performed two 30-minute USABILITY TESTS with our mid-fidelity prototype with previous interviewees to learn how our key features were perceived and interacted with.

Finally, we performed a GENERAL EVALUATION of our high-fidelity prototype based on the POUR principles from the W3C WCAG accessibility guidelines to ensure a digital tool/web application is usable by as many folks as possible.

Final Design

Complete Case Study 3/22

Park Pal

An app to facilitate information about accessible features of outdoor space.

Park Pal was part of a mastery course project at the University of Michigan School of Information. I was the primary designer in a team of three leading this project in ideating early concepts, running design sprints, regularly presenting to leadership at UM, designing and delivering final assets, and creating a promotional video.

CASE STUDY - 3/22; UX Designer / UX Researcher / Graphic Designer

Emergency Services

Assist users in emergency events with appropriate resources.

Live Navigation

Help users navigate trails and parks and find amenities and features such as parking or bathrooms.

Trip Planning

Aid users in planning outings by giving them useful tools and resources.

Safety & Accessibility Info

Display important safety and accessibility information in accordance with park/trail descriptions.

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Accessibility Information

Users want more information about the accessibility features of parks. Interviewees stated it is hard to find navigation information related to accessibility.

Emergency Assistance

This finding led us to look into existing features in other information facilitation technologies and tools. The popular outdoor app AllTrails does not have specific emergency features.

Park Landmark Information

Users want specific information about the accessibility of park landmarks (bathrooms, trailheads, benches, multiple entrance points, etc.).

Planning

Our interviewees stated that they wanted to plan visits to parks and trails ahead of time to ensure they had all of the necessary information about accessibility ready before getting to the trail.

Designed and Developed by Hannah Simon 2021