Introducing Route:able — Part 1: The UX Research and define a first concept

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Introducing Route:able — Part 1: The UX Research and define a first concept

Do you know? One billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, experience some form of disability, and disability prevalence is higher for developing countries. One-fifth of the estimated global total, or between 110 million and 190 million people, experience significant disabilities.

A little preface before we start

I split this Case Study into 2 parts. This article will be focusing on UX Research and define the first MVP. In the second part, we will dive into the Iteration of the Design process from the first Low Fidelity Concept till the High Fidelity MVP we created till the deadline and now I wish everybody a nice time reading this article and looking forward to your thoughts.

In my graduation project at Ironhack Berlin, we collaborate for 2 weeks with stakeholders from different fields. I choose together with my Partner Alessio Sacconi the Non-Profit Project route:able to bring them on a straight line in UX and UI Design and find a solution for a wide range of user needs

Route:able was born in Hackathon for sustainable mobility end of 2020 by the Verkehrsministerium of Baden Württemberg.They won the hackathon and received 25.000 € funding on improving and releasing the app. The goal of the crew is for people to give more opportunities to reach goals by there self.

My Roles

In this project, We take responsibility for the whole task as UX and UI Designer. Starting with the full Design Thinking process over Project Management till User Interface Design and decision. My Role is more focused in a later stage on the Mobile UX and UI part so I will dive deeper into part 2 where we talk about the Prototype and Testing process.

Tools I used for this project are: Miro, Google Forms, Figma, Adobe Photoshop, and Illustrator

How we can start?

After the first meeting with our Stakeholders, we knew creating an All-in Solution is crucial and we also starting from scratch, because there was no user research available. We set very early a focus group for us — People are living with a wheelchair.

For me was an exciting experience! It’s like you learn everything new with a challenge on another level like before. How we reach our focus group and extend features for other disabilities? We also have to research the usability in a Desktop and Mobile environment for a wide range of disabilities what is super complex.

UX Research

This was a tricky start because it was not easy to find people from our focus groups, so we tried the first day to get in contact with organizations and communities and prepared a quantitative survey to understand the focus group and get a point where we can dive deeper in user pains. The biggest challenge here was to empathize with a person in a wheelchair. I never made the experience using this kind of important helper. You also have to take care from a emphasize perspective.

After intense research we found a lovely community helping us to empathize with the user. In the end, we had access to the quantity and quality data from 60 Attendees with a lot of insights into what the user needs and pain, frustration points, and of course their behaviors.

Over 60% have access to a car by there self or family and friends. A big issue is finding a public parking place for disabled people who are also fitting to the criteria for their car.

This was a surprising insight for us. We don’t aspected so many people are connected with a car and also drive by themself and this is showing me how import is user research.

75% finds that planing a route, is a fundamental part to get out of the door

A big frustration for or end-user is obstacles like borders, stairs, or cobblestone. Also, broken lifts and public transport have to take part in the planning. The users need four different tools for planing one experience. Google Maps for finding the best route in walking and bicycle mode, to find wheelchair accessibility places, BVG or Deutsche Band Website checking broken lifts and Station accessibility, Checking Google Earth for Obstacles on the route like stairs and cobblestone pavement. Over 57% using this kind of online helpers to find a way to their destination.

From a Rating of 1 (frustration) to 5 (happy) the overall satisfaction average of moving outside experience are 2,6 shows the people are feeling not confident reaching their goal. These people feeling often ignored by society and want to have the opportunity to be an active part of a community

In our research, we found out that these people are love to communicate in Facebook and WhatsApp groups. So one of the main features that land very early on our MVP list was a Feedback and Recommendation System where the user can share obstacles, Points of interest, or creating route recommendations. This was one of the most dominant needs in our research or to quote one user

I wish der is a feedback system in google maps for disability

There are also some UI insights

The favorite accessibility feature is Zoom (20%) Display & Text Size (40%), Voice Assistant like Siri or Google Voice, and Voice Control (25%)

These are important pieces of information for our decisions in a later stage about the User Interface, especially in the Mobile part, where I try to implement the user needs.

Over 50% using for planing there Desktop or Notebook

That was crucial for our MVP splitting up this End to End solution in a Website and a mobile app

That’s a lot of data!

To get an overview of the massive data we collected using an Empathy Map was the best solution for us to regroup the Infos, filter doubles, and set them in a higher priority. This gives us the possibility to create a very authentic persona for route:able

Emphaty Map

Meet our Persona

With our User Persona, we tried to reflect a wide range of people from our Interviews and surveys. In the end for us was also crucial to create a straightforward MVP because nobody from us has experience sitting in a wheelchair and so it was more important to stick every time on our user Persona. Also, a good exercise, because often by developing a new feature or app it can happen you part away from the Persona.

Our final User Persona

Problem Statement

Permanent Wheelchair users needs a way to plan there routes with less effort because it allows them to gain more autonomy and confidence.We believe make mobility information accessible and structured for people with disabilities will achieve more freedom and confidence.

We will know we are right when the Satisfaction average of moving outside experience increase by 20%.

Define our MVP

With more sticky notes landing on our wall we need a new method for regrouping. A mix between KANBAN Method and User Story Mapping was here the key to success. We worked on this project a lot more agile than in the Bootcamp before, especially in the User Testing and Prototyping Process, which was the result of the complex topic and the mass of ideas we collected. But we had to keep in mind there is a deadline and there is no time to implementing every vision we got.

Early state of collecting ideas on the wall with sticky notes
Regroup our ides to create a MVP

Organise our ideas

After we finalize our first ideas we have to set our priorities. Time is running and we got only 5 days left till the deadline and there was a lot of work to do. The MOSCOW should help us to set Priorities.

MOSCOW Method for MVP

That looks a little bit heavy top left loaded. But that’s ok! To get this working you need a lot of features because there is a wide user range.
We picked the most non-technical part of your ideas and combined it in an all-in-one solution from a UX and UI perspective.

Your MVP

Our solution should give the people the opportunity to plan their route at home, send it to the phone, find a public parking place that fits the user’s needs and reach their goal safely, confidently, and not frustrated.
You can be part of a Community by a feedback system for obstacles and points of interest and give experiences to your routes and recommend them.

What I learned

  • With this really specific User-base, you need good UX research and how important is to emphasize with a group if you have no connection to it or their needs.
  • Continuous learning! In this week I learned a lot about a new topic in User Experience Design with accessibility features how they are usable for the specific group. I have also done a lot of research by myself understanding Accessible Features in the digital world.
  • Starting from scratch can be an enlightening experience, but nonetheless, it requires time and a clear vision of what can be done in a certain time.

I also think there was a lot of space for improvement in my workflows and the usage of methods. Sometimes it feels a little bit like try and error. Of course, one point is the lack of time available, but reflecting on the User Research for getting better results in the future is every time a win for future projects. Here are some points I would do next time better:

  • Do a second survey!
  • More focused interviews with the people based on the first and second survey
  • Refine the Emphatic Map. It looks a little bit messy and here is a lot of potential
  • The project would be the perfect exercise using the Story User Mapping method, but in the end, we failed to use it and worked with a Frankenstein Hybrid. Here I would directly focus on using the method from the beginning to save time (also in a later stage of the project) and get a better picture.

Thank you for reading part 1 of creating the route:able User Experience. In Part 2 you will find out how we going through the next steps of the design think process, starting with our first concept and refine the MVP with the iteration of user testing.
I hope you enjoy it and if got any questions or wanna have coffee chat drop a comment or send me a direct message via Twitter (@Jitko) or Instagram (@TobiasStoll). Looking forward to seeing you again in the next article.

Best wishes,


Introducing Route:able — Part 1: The UX Research and define a first concept was originally published in Prototypr on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.