Spotter is a mobile service design project for the Interaction Design Studio course in HCII. Taking our cue from the success of peer economies such as Uber and Airbnb, our team created Spotter, which helps homeowners with unused parking spots rent out their lots to drivers searching for parking.

Team members: Danielle Hu, Andrew Kim

Design Brief

Our team was presented with 2 personas: Madeline, an elderly homeowner in a lively neighborhood who wishes to rent out her driveway as a parking spot to supplement her income; and Rebecca, a nurse who takes rotating shifts at the hospital and who has difficulty finding parking. Our role was to design a mobile application that creates a peer economy serving both these individuals.


We began by performing an ecosystem collection (below), which consolidated what each of us knew of the problem. This then helped us narrow the focus of subsequent research to where there were gaps in our knowledge. We realized we needed to understand the contexts in which drivers are likely to use such an app, as well as any concerns users may have. Our research consisted of user interviews and observational studies. I interviewed a driver and two driveway owners, and conducted an observational study of public parking in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood.

Insights and Ideation

Our research provided us with two key insights:

Insight 1: Privacy and safety is a big concern for driveway owners because they will be allowing strangers onto their property. Many wanted a way to rate drivers and restrict driveway usage to those above a certain rating.

Ideation 1: We decided to include a ratings feature, but also added other measures, such as disclosing car plate numbers and driver photos to driveway owners to that drivers can be later identified if conflicts arise.

Insight 2: Something that surprised us was just how often drivers planned their events around the availability of parking, even changing plans if parking could not be found. We realized that this was an opportunity for our app to create value for small business owners whose customers are dependent on public parking.

Ideation 2: Based off this insight, we wanted our app to help small business owners provide parking for their customers without investing in permanent parking lots. We considered creating a feature for small business owners to reimburse the cost of parking for customers who use Spotter.

Wireframes and Feedback

The wireframes I created prototyped the appearance of the app when accessed by different users. Some initial features included how parking lot owners can list their parking location on the app and how users can rate one another.

One feature we received a lot of feedback for was the interface used by small business owners to reimburse customers for parking. My initial wireframe (above far right) used a map to indicate occupied parking locations nearby; business owners would have to tap on a particular location to reimburse that driver.

There were many concerns that such an interaction would be too time consuming. Small business owners who are already juggling many different tasks will now have to devote extra time looking for a customer's parking space to reimburse them. Related questions include how long customers should be reimbursed for, and the low precision of locating a single parked car in places with high densities of parking spaces.


Working off the feedback we received from critiques and usability testing, we improved on many features for our final design.

Drivers can now reserve parking spaces in advance by selecting a location and picking a date. This helps users like Rebecca, who know their schedule in advance, to avoid the uncertainty of parking availability by reserving parking spaces ahead of time.

In addition to listing parking locations and providing availability timings, owners can now also view details about drivers currently using their parking spots. This was included to address security concerns where people felt safer knowing who the strangers using their private driveways were.

Some of the feedback we received also highlighted the need for a hands-free mode because individuals looking for parking spots could be currently driving towards their destination. The hands-free mode was added to improve driver road safety and was designed to be comprehensive with only a glance. I also created an animation that plays on screen whenever the driver speaks in order to provide feedback that the voice command has been registered.

I greatly changed our initial design for reimbursements to make it more time-efficient and less demanding of attention from small business owners making the reimbursements. Mobile GPS is now used to identify when a customer enters a store and the duration of their stay. Small business owners will only see the names of app users currently in their store and reimbursements will also be for the exact duration of their visit. This new design is meant to simplify the interaction into a single button tap, removing extraneous information such as location of the parked car and other nearby app users.

© Grace Guo, 2017