Project #1 - Scenic Route

PROBLEM: Elisa takes the subway everyday, but would much prefer her commute to involve physical activity. Living off the Brooklyn Bridge, she could potentially run or bike to her office in Union Square. Biking in Manhattan is not her cup of tea, however, considering that she doesn't find much beauty in concrete buildings nor does she find any enjoyment in the stress of navigating traffic and pedestrian-packed streets.

SOLUTION: Elisa would bike to and/or from work if she knew the greenest routes to get to/from work, even if it extended the length of her commute. Her main qualm was not knowing the exact entrance to parks and getting clear directions to them incorporated into the overall A to B directions would be helpful. 

THE PRODUCT: Scenic Route. An app that routes your bike commute through the nearest green spaces, allowing you to spend more time staring at trees, and less time worrying about potentially getting hit by a cab and seeing only concrete as you draw your last breath.

As it's name suggests, this app finds the scenic route for one's commute, as opposed to the most direct. Not everyone is in a harrowing time crunch. There are those who would go out of their way to enjoy a bit nature - not an unreasonable request for anyone having to toil away in a concrete jungle. Scenic Route provides a route from A to B that provides detailed directions, including voice navigation so bikers can keep their eyes on the road, to the nearest green space and then from there, to their final destination.

THE PROCESS: Elisa knew from the top what would help her, an avid biker, get the most from this app. I, on the other hand, seemed to over complicate it at the beginning - probably because I approached commuting as the main concern, rather than prioritizing the act of enjoying nature.

Concept map of original brainstorming

My first round of rough sketches and paper prototyping made me realize I had included a few features that were completely unnecessary, and that I could streamline more effectively by taking out a feature I had included that would provide a regular routing option in case the user wanted the convenient route, rather than the scenic one. Elisa's feedback was that she would be using this app with the direct intention of only wanting the scenic route, thus rendering the initial idea unnecessary.

Taking her feedback into account, I drew up another round of paper prototypes, this time focusing on the point of view of a biker who prioritized physical activity and enjoying nature, over the quickest way from A to B. The result was this:

Elisa's positive feedback indicated this approach was clearly successful. Her final suggestion was including an option to rate her route at the end as a means of data collection for how that route fared.

With this in mind, I converted my paper prototype into POP, incorporating the user feedback suggestion. Through observing various existing apps and their feature of user reviews and photos, I asked Elissa which of these would she find helpful: user reviews, user photos, existing reviews pulled from Yelp/Google, existing photos pulled from Yelp/Google. Her response was "not vital" to the latter three, and a resounding "YES" to the first. So I added a user reviews feature to my POP prototype.

I figured, though, that if a person is turned off to a green space based on its review and wants to be re-routed via a different park, then that should be an option as well.

With these last few changes, I thus ended up with my final POP prototype. A few notes about my POP prototype:

1. I intend for the directions to automatically update through GPS tracking of the user's position

2. Any time there are directions on screen, there is voice navigation.

3. Screens 7 through 10 will transition automatically to the next based on the user's GPS position. Once they have entered the park, it will transition to screen 8. Once they are within 0.2 miles of the park's exit, it will transition to screen 9. Once they have arrived at their final destination, it will transition to screen 10.

As there is no way to incorporate GPS tracking into POP (or at least, none that I know of), the user has to tap the screen to progress for now.

4. I have zero background in this, and I think I may be starting to get the hang of things...



Sriya Sarkar