Parking People – User Centered Design Process


Finding a parking spot in Seattle is difficult and takes a lot of time. It can also cause frustration.


Parking People mobile application helps driver to find parking spot that is close to the destination automatically based on real time availability. This solution was the best approach to keep it low cost and avoid having the high buy-ins of city officials.




Initial setting up
Driver’s parking preference is specified at the initial use of the app — proximity of parking location from destination, maximum parking fee, type of parking space. Driver can have different parking preferences and save it under a different profile to accommodate the driving needs. For example, driving a minivan requires bigger parking space than a sedan.

Before driving out
After choosing which parking preference Profile to activate, driver will be prompted to enter the destination that he is going to and the parking duration he needs. The app will provide driving navigation to the destination. Once the driver is close to the destination, the app will automatically locate available parking spaces. Driver will then tap on the available options and the app will navigate the driver to the parking spot.

After parking
Once the car is parked, the app will prompt driver to submit number of parking space available seen nearby. This crowdsourced data will then help other users to locate their parking spaces.


Sent a survey to validate our hypothesis and around 100 people responded.
Conducted audio diary study with 5 drivers as a method to do contextual inquiry.
Originally we wanted to do contextual inquiry by driving along with participants while they drive and get the them to think out loud as they look for parking but decided it would be distracting and dangerous to conduct this while participant is driving. Also scheduling the time and logistics will be difficult as we did not know when participants will be driving.
Competitive analysis on what city officials and companies in Seattle and other big cities such as San Francisco have done to help solve the parking problem.
Design requirements and user personas were created after the research data was analyzed.

Primary Persona

Secondary Personas

Design question
How can we help people locate available public parking near a preferred location that meets their unique priorities?

Design Requirements
Show available parking near destination and/or current location.
Update available parking in real time.
Must be able to be used on location.
Shouldn’t require planning ahead.
Allow people to specify requirements about their parking space, including:

– Type (parallel, angled, etc)
– Location (garage, lot, street)
– Price (set maximum about to pay)
– Duration of time allowed
– Size of vehicle and space

Should remember user’s preference between uses. (e.g. If they choose to not allow parallel parking spots, their next search will also disallow parallel parking spots)
Help people know if parking in a given spot is legal and allowed.
Should cover all neighborhoods in Seattle.
Should shorten people’s average parking time (currently 6-10 minutes).

Brainstormed for solutions based on the research data and user scenarios. Generated as many ideas as we could as there is no such thing as a bad idea.
Did affinity diagram to get general theme of the solutions.
Identified constraints:

– Effort to get buy-ins from the city officials
– Level of technical difficulty
– Cost
– Time

Filtered ideas based on level of constraints and matched it to the personas’ needs.
Sketched out the screen flows including the shortlisted features.
Designed mid-level prototype of the mobile application.
Produced video prototype to communicate the idea of the mobile app.
Sent out survey including the video prototype to validate if drivers will use the mobile application and recommend it to other people.

This project was part of a User Centered Design course at University of Washington. Graduate students were tasked to identify a problem, do research, analyze the data, ideate and prototype the design solutions. Ideally further usability study, research and iteration need to be done solidifying design solutions, but they were cut short due to the short period of time we have from a quarter-based academic calendar.

  • Interface, Research, User Experience
  • 2015
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