Accessible Interaction Design

Accessible Eating app low-fidelity prototype screens

Picking a new restaurant to eat at isn’t easy for anyone, but especially not for those with accessibility concerns. Those users’ concerns go beyond the basics of location, price, and menu. They must also worry about ramps, door width, stairs, comfortable seating, and much more. These are all factors that modern restaurant search apps could consider, but current do not. And with 26% of adults in the United States having some type of disability, this means that one in four users of such an app may be having a poor user experience. As a result, I was tasked with researching and designing an app to help disabled users find restaurants where they can dine comfortably. The working title for the app was “Accessible Eating App.”

Context

Lesley University Course Project

My role

UX researcher and UX designer

Stakeholder

Professor Lisa Spitz

Target Users

  • Individuals with permanent disabilities of varying severity
  • Individuals with temporary disabilities of varying severity (broken leg, recovering from surgery, etc.)

Timeline

The project took 7 weeks to complete, with some tasks overlapping:

  • Study video interviews: 2 days
  • Create empathy map: 3 days
  • Design app flowchart: 1 week
  • Create storyboard: 1 week
  • Design and test paper prototype: 2 weeks
  • Design interface animation: 1 week
  • Design digital prototype: 1 week

PRocess

I began by reviewing an hour-long interview with Craig, a prime example of my app’s target user. Craig has a form of muscular dystrophy that currently still allows him to move about independently, but that affects his joints in such a way that mobility can be difficult and being comfortable for extended periods takes some pre-planning. From Craig’s interview, and some more research into the difficulties disabled people experience in restaurants, I was able to find the major user pain points.

Pain Points

  • Users need many pictures to try to guess measurements and features of restaurants.
  • Users sometimes have to call restaurants to ask about specific features, and may be given inaccurate information by staff.
  • Users often have to use other apps or methods to check accessibility, such as reviewing the street view of the restaurant on Google Maps or driving by to view the entrance.

Empathy Map

With these pain points in mind, I developed a mind map.

Craig's empathy map

Flow Chart

Next, I developed a flow chart to break down how users currently flow through a competitor app- Yelp. Analyzing an existing app and taking note of pain points Craig would experience helped me find areas where my app could improve on the user experience for disabled users.

Yelp app user flow, with Craig's pain points

Paper Prototype

With my flow chart in mind, I developed a storyboard showing how a user like Craig would use my app, including the frustrations that would prompt him to use it and how much it would help him in the end. I used this to inform a paper prototype, which I uploaded into the POP by Marvel prototyping app to test remotely with users. The majority of users found my app easy to navigate and found my preferences and filtering system to be great solutions to the main pain points.

Paper prototype app screen sketches
Two screens from the static version of the paper prototype.

Wireframes

Using the feedback I received from my prototype user tests, I designed a digital wireframe prototype to share with the main stakeholder. In the final prototype, I further simplified the initial preferences selection and streamlined the filtering options for an improved user experience.

Accessible Eating app low-fidelity prototype screens
Some screens from the final prototype.

Some highlights of the final design are:

  • Preferences system that accounts for a large variety of permanent/temporary disabilities. Includes the ability to say yes or no to things like ramps, single floor venues, and nearby parking.
  • Skimmable results that use a checkmark to show users which restaurants match all of their preferences.
  • Image gallery for users to review the interior and exterior of the restaurant
  • Accessibility details screen, for users to see exactly how the restaurant matched their requirements and additional details such as music volume and table height.

Next Steps and Recommendations

Next, I would recommend the following:

  • Running first-click test and 5-second usability tests with the digital prototype.
  • Based on those usability tests, developing a more high-fidelity design.