Denver Street Signs and Park Rules Management

Managing Park Signs and Rules

Spot is an Aussie startup that uses A.I to help cities manage their park signs and rules. City managers use the web app to view individual signs, manage parking zones and view its schedules.

It’s a complex system, used by a number of different personas, that operates according to very specific business rules. The first designer who worked on the project couldn’t quite manage the complexity and the first iterations had a number of blind spots, issues with various task flows and interface patterns that weren’t going to scale well and suit the project’s needs.

Long story short, I was brought on to take over the project and fix the issues. Not much could be re-used, so that meant I had to almost start from scratch and finalize it in less than twelve weeks. It was a challenge.

Getting Started

The first thing I had to do was to go over the existing documentation, review the current PRD and run a number of stakeholder interviews (Including the project managers, engineers and the client) to understand basic things such as the audience we were designing for, the tasks we aimed at improving, what they assumed the system should do and more.

Fast forward a few action-packed interviews and many, many coffee mugs later, I had written up a good summary of the work that needed to be executed. Here’s a screenshot:

Moving Forward

The clock was ticking. Next up was starting to visualize how we’d execute on some of the required stories using wireframes. We started off with the most basic flows — such as managing projects, organizations and authentication — and gradually progressed towards the more complicated tasks, such as creating signs, interpreting data or viewing zone schedules.

It’s always a hard balance — how to move as fast as possible while, at the same time, avoid glossing over important details. I think we did a good job here — the engineers were comfortable, the client was happy and testing went well.

I’ll add below some of the wireframes. Unfortunately I’m not allowed to link to the InVision prototype, but they should be enough to communicate the level of fidelity we were aiming at, as well as how the systems looked and felt at this stage.

Can you make it pop?

Was one of the things never said in this project. Thankfully. I kinda miss the old days when that used to come up more often.

(Just kidding, I don’t)

But I digress. Once we were confident the wireframes were solid enough, we moved on to the next phase — incorporating brand elements and working on the visual design. Spot had an existing brand and *some* guidelines for creating visuals.

And that brand, albeit new, was really solid. The previous team had done a great job.

There wasn’t, however, a library with interface components nor a design system in place. We also didn’t had the time — or budget — to go through a formal process and build one. Long story short, I had to sort of freestyle it.

Going off of the brand’s look and feel, I came up with a set of base elements that could be re-utilized throughout the app; buttons, text formatting styles, special elements (signs, for example) and a lot more. The end result was light, versatile and well-received by all parties — engineers, managers, clients and users.

It ended up becoming of my favorite UI designs, ever. Below are a few of the mockups. Again, I can’t link to the InVision prototype, but they should be enough to give you a sense of what it looks and feels.

Wrapping Up

We made it. We were confident the end result did an excellent job addressing the initial user needs and business requirements, the engineers were on-board with the scope designed, and we managed to get it done within the original deadline, even considering I took over after the project had already started.

In retrospect, I’d like to have conducted more testing. It wasn’t viable due to heavy time constraints, and I think what were able to do just enough to validate some of the core assumptions. The more, the better.

It wasn’t in the scope for the project, but at some point in the future I’d like to formalize the interface elements I created and build a proper design system for the web app — which will likely expand a lot in the future.

All in all, the team did a phenomenal job, and, even though the tight deadline had me drinking too many Red Bulls, it was a lot of fun.