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Case Study: Parking Buddy

8 weeks
Project Info
BrainStation Bootcamp
Tools Used
Pen & paper
Roles: UX | UI Researcher & Designer

Researcher: Extensive competitor analysis, conducted primary research, moderated user interviews, compiled data into findings.

Designer: Idea conceptualization from data points, lo-fi wire frames, transition to mid-fi wireframes, refined features through usability testing, designed final hi-fi wireframes and interactive prototype.


Problem Space
Street parking signs in Vancouver are confusing for drivers and this can lead to avoidable parking tickets.
Currently there are no resources that address the issue. 
I ideated and designed a solution to help drivers understand street parking signs.
Parking Buddy Homescreen.png

Design Process

I used the Double Diamond design approach throughout the creation and development of my project. This helped guide me in designing and delivering a user-tested digital solution to the problem space.
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1. Discover
Problem Space
The popularity for finding free parking is growing in busy Vancouver, B.C. Drivers will spend an extra few minutes to look for free parking and walk a few blocks to their destination in lieu of paying to park.
However, it looks and feels like the city of Vancouver parking signs are meant to confuse people. Multiple parking signs are displayed with different timeframes, colours, images, and text. In a situation like this, there is a lack of straight forward information on the signs to confirm if someone can park for free or not.
Secondary Research

Apps like PayByPhone, Parking Angles, and SmoothParking exist and are dedicated to paid parking spots and paid lots. For example, PayByPhone is a digital solution that users pay for time on the parking meter, alleviating the need to carry coins. 

The existing apps in the market do not inform drivers what street parking signs mean.

I saw an opportunity to interject with a design intervention that would reduce friction between a user by helping them understand what each Vancouver parking sign meant.

My hypothesis:

I believe that providing drivers with an educational app that explains what Vancouver street parking signs mean, will reduce confusion and ultimately lessen their chances of receiving a parking ticket. 

My guiding HMW:

How might we educate drivers in Vancouver on what each parking sign means in order to reduce their chances of receiving a parking ticket?

Primary Research

In order to zoom out and gain a holistic understanding of the problem space, I conducted 5 user interviews. 

My goals were to:

  • Test and validate my hypothesis

  • Gain insight into users painpoints, motivations and behaviours

  • Understand drivers values, needs, and wants

  • Learn how drivers interpret parking signs

What I assumed to be true of drivers:

  • Want free parking

  • Spend time looking for free parking before paying to park

  • Find parking signs confusing

  • Have tried to find an answer online but were unsuccessful

  • The future of Vancouver street parking will remain a mix of paid and free

User criteria:

  • 19-60yrs in order to capture users in various life-stages

  • Driven on their own for more than 2 yrs

  • Lived in Vancouver more than 5yrs

  • Looked for free parking in the past 3 months

Key Insights & Takeaways

After spending time analyzing the data, common themes began to appear:

Key Insights.png

My assumptions and hypothesis were validated during user interviews. Ultimately, drivers would like to know what Vancouver parking signs mean, which would minimize their time spent looking for an answer, and reduce their feeling of confusion. Drivers in Vancouver would like to know what a sign means and if they can park for free.

User Persona
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2. Define
I embodied my findings into a relatable persona.
Spencer was created to represent the target market for my design intervention. 
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Experience Mapping
In order to begin visualizing the data and developing a deeper understanding of Spencer, I created an experience map. I was looking to identify areas of opportunities to interject with a design intervention that would provide Spencer with the most support. 
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3. Develop
Task Flow - First Iteration
Over 30 user stories were identified from the user interviews. I focused on an instance that would deliver a solution to save user’s valuable time. To provide the most support to the users I focused on:
User’s Task Flow: Wants to be able to see and understand what parking signs mean in an efficient way. 
User Story: As a driver in Vancouver I want to understand street parking signs before I park so that I do not get a parking ticket.
User Task Flow.png
Paper Sketches
Now that I had identified the users main task, it was time to sketch out my ideas. I use the POP Marvel app for the first iteration of prototyping.
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Low-fidelity Wireframing
I translated the screens that emulated the desired task flow into greyscale wireframes using Sketch.
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Usability Testing
I performed two rounds of usability testing with 5 different users each round, to validate the functions and gain insight into improvements. Each tester was provided with the same scripted scenario in which they would attempt to complete the assigned task.
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Round 1 - Feedback
Based on the findings, I extracted the friction points to create a prioritization matrix. The prevalence of the issue was ranked in accordance with the value it would bring to the users. 
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Round 1 Findings
Based on the user feedback, the task flow was updated to provide more user freedom when navigating the app.
User Task Flow Updated.png
Screen changes after round 1 of user testing:
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User Testing - Second Round
I was applied the feedback from the first round of user testing to conduct another round of user tests. 
Round 2 Wireframe updates.png
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Main Findings & Insights
After the second round of user testing, it was confirmed that users want to know if they can park for free or not by understanding street parking signs.

From here it was time to take it to the next stage; creating a brand identity.
4. Deliver
Visual Identity
Before designing in high fidelity, it was important that I established a visual identity that was reflective of the brand, but also taking into consideration how users would recognize the brand.
A few examples of key adjectives the brand would encompass:
  • Simple

  • Comfortable

  • Pleasant

  • Timely

  • Clean

  • Functional

  • Practical

  • Easy

To visualize these words and give them more meaning, I gathered inspiration and created a mood board. 
Screen Shot 2021-02-26 at 12.56.32
Brand Colours
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With the adjectives and moodboard in mind, the brand's identity was to be clean and inviting. This meant colour would be used sparingly to reduce visual distraction. 
I chose a typeface that would be recognizable, readable, easily scanable, and provide users with a frictionless experience. I went with a clean-cut typeface that would deliver information without distractions.
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The app name would also need to reflect the brand identity in that it should be easy to find. I chose Parking Buddy; it is descriptive of the app's main task, yet playful enough to be memorable. 
Brand Logo.png
Bringing all the elements together, I created a high fidelity prototype. 
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Hi-fi Prototype
Alternate Platform
I designed the screens to be agnostic so it would be compatible on any phone operating system. I designed select screens for a Samsung Galaxy S10 to showcase the compatibility.
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Marketing Strategies
In order to gain traction in the market and reach out to users I created a responsive marketing website that outlines the benefits and features of Parking Buddy. 
Visit the desktop website here
Visit the mobile here
Marketing Website on Laptop and mobile.p
Future Thinking
Design Impact
If Parking Buddy were to be successful, how would the world be different?
  • Create confident drivers. Because drivers would have an opportunity to learn what parking signs mean and familiarize themselves with street parking rules in Vancouver. 
  • Reduce the amount of parking tickets issued. Drivers in Vancouver will enjoy their day knowing they can park for free within the timeframe and won't run the risk of receiving a parking ticket.
I would track the data from user downloads from both the App Store and Google Play store. I would track this on a monthly basis and pivot if I saw a drop in downloads. 
Business considerations
A SWOT analysis would be conducted to assess the viability in the current Vancouver market. Once successful growth has been met, a focus on global expansion would follow. There is an opportunity to grow the brand to future travellers who rent a car in a new area to use the app.  
There is an opportunity to partner with existing platforms; such as PayByPhone, or SpotAngels. This partnership would widen the scope of Parking Buddy, and would increase customer engagement for both parties. 
Next Steps
Feature build out
Further development of the app to include other features shown; such as the search function for users who do not have a camera on their phone, or chose to not use their camera. This would make the app more dynamic and continue to make it inclusive. 
User testing and feedback
Continue to include the user in the growth and expansion of the app to ensure it meets the users needs and desires. There would be continuation of adapting the app based on user feedback.