4 UNC students
Adobe XD, Adobe Illustrator, Figma
On my 4-person team, I was the sole UX/UI designer and was responsible for defining design objectives, wireframing, prototyping, and developing visual assets. The entire team participated in research and persona development to build a shared understanding of our users before focusing on our respective roles.
As a public university, the University of North Carolina (UNC) must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, accessibility on campus is threatened by decades-old, retrofitted buildings, insufficient accessible entrances, and out-of-service elevators and bathrooms. These accessibility problems prevent students, faculty, and campus visitors from planning efficient, worry-free routes through campus.
We kicked off our research efforts with our own take on the “get out of the building” strategy—walking around campus. We visited multiple campus buildings to search for signage indicating accessible entrances and to test automatic doors, ramps, and elevators. This hands-on approach helped us to find out just how many buildings lacked basic accessibility accommodations, especially functioning elevators.
We were surprised by our discoveries and wanted to gather additional data from the broader UNC community. To do so, we created a survey to gauge awareness of accessibility on campus and summarized our key findings:
To dive deeper into these issues, we needed to speak with those most affected by the lack of accessibility on campus. Although we were only able to secure one student willing to be interviewed, their perspective as a wheelchair user revealed specific pain points related to a lack of responsiveness from campus maintenance and the impact of an inaccessible campus on academic performance.
Adam, our primary persona, reflected the experiences shared by our interviewee. Although Adam represented our main user group, we knew from our survey that the UNC community is more than just students. There were many groups we considered, but we prioritized campus visitors so that our solution would still provide value for users without as much familiarity with the campus. With that, our secondary user persona, Miranda, was created.
After connecting with our users through research and personas, I set three objectives for our solution:
To determine the best way to achieve these objectives, I explored existing products that focused on accessibility, navigation, or college campuses.
Seeing the similarities in these products, as well as the gaps in what they offered, I was able to refine the vision for our solution. While our solution could leverage the interactive maps and community reporting features found in existing products, we had a unique opportunity to combine real-time accessibility tracking and navigation in a UNC-specific context.
With a clear design direction set, I visualized our solution in a series of sketches before seeking feedback from four potential users.
Based on users’ feedback, I saw an opportunity to better solve for the route planning pain point identified during research. I enhanced route directions with visuals and detailed arrival information and provided additional context about indoor facilities. These changes were reflected in the final set of wireframes:
My goal for the visual design was to stay consistent with the UNC suite of apps while still prioritizing the distinct purpose of our solution. I utilized colors and typography from UNC’s official brand guidelines and incorporated simple icons and imagery to keep the focus on key accessibility information.
After 8 weeks, the team introduced our plan to address accessibility problems on campus. The final solution was comprised of features derived from our three core design objectives:
Flexible log in options connect users with an interactive map containing detailed accessibility information for all on-campus locations.
Route planning functionality highlights accessible streets, ramps, and entrances to help users chart safe paths through campus.
A live feed and community-driven reporting provide insight into conditions on campus, allowing campus maintenance to respond to and resolve incidents as they arise.
Users can track their engagement with these features through personalized profile stats and recent activity.