“Always design a thing by considering it in its next larger context – a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, an environment in a city plan.” – Eliel Saarinen
An important aspect of HCI is the idea of user-centered design. This includes gaining an understanding of users’ backgrounds. TIMELI researchers want to revolutionize the traffic incident managers (TIMs) do their work, but in order to do that we had to put ourselves their shoes (the teams from previous years had already done this, but it was important for us as well).
What TIMs Do
This past Wednesday we had the opportunity to visit Iowa DoT’s Traffic Management Center (TMC). Although we weren’t conducting formal contextual interviews, we did observe and ask TIMs questions that would aid us in understanding their work. We gathered a lot of information through this process, but a main takeaway was redundancy in certain features. For instance, maps. Also, Jamiahus (Graduate Mentor), who has been working this project in previous years, noticed some changes with the interfaces. The main change was a new dashboard for TIMs that removed some issues with reporting incidents.
Purpose of Trip
As mentioned earlier, it’s important for user-interface researchers to examine the background of their users. This goes beyond the software requirements and looks at specific features that would improve the users interaction with the system. Overall, this was a very fun and informative trip. I’m glad to have some real world experience with HCI/UX research.