Creating a user experience around a specific audience allows you to tailor your project to very specific needs. However, when the audience is an entire city, designing for scale presents a new set of challenges: addressing multiple demographics, maintaining consistent vision, and providing accessibility, among others. In order to understand our cities, we first have to understand a disparate base of individual constituents. Through stages of concepting, testing, and learning, we can design for a greater population to provide experiences that serve the needs of many but still maintain the personality of the select few.
Intersection, an urban experience company based in New York, combines expertise in technology, user experience, and interactive engagement at the convergence of the digital and physical worlds to improve life in cities around the world. Their latest project, LinkNYC, will replace New York City’s existing payphone banks with over 7,000 custom-built kiosks that offer a host of free services, including high-speed WiFi, Internet browsing, phone calls, emergency reporting, and more. Paul McConnell and Mike Clare, Intersection’s design team, discuss how they adapted their design approach to develop a research strategy involving community outreach and citizen prototype testing. By sourcing some of the most diverse community organizations, the team was able to better identify overall citizen needs and behaviors to develop features and interactions that adapted to people with all tech literacy backgrounds.
As Intersection’s director of design, Paul McConnell has helped build an integrated practice of strategists, interaction designers, and visual designers. Paul has led efforts for a range of projects, including web applications, products, services, and spaces. His clients and employers have included startups, universities, corporations, cultural institutions, and government agencies. Paul is an alum of Pratt Institute and continues to lecture in Pratt’s Design Management program and SVA’s Interaction Design program. In addition, Paul serves as a founding advisor and curriculum developer for the Urban Assembly Maker Academy, New York City’s first public high school for design and technology.
As design team lead at Control Group, Mike Clare connects emerging technologies with consumers’ needs to create new experiences that solve problems and help grow businesses. He has taken projects from opportunity identification to concept creation, design, and final prototype. His tools include qualitative research, innovation strategy, user experience design, physical interaction design, and user interface design. Prior to joining Control Group, Mike worked a strategist at Continuum, a global innovation consultancy, where he worked for clients including PepsiCo, UnitedHealthcare, and Samsung. Mike has a degree in industrial design from Rhode Island School of Design.
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