Design Spec:design_spec

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It was a long road getting to Parkey. Our prompt was to design a mobile application for commuters. We initially thought of the commute as the time one is traveling and we sought to make the traveling experience more enjoyable perhaps with a game or some sort of contextual social experience, but through phone interviews and an online survey, we were able to identify the end of travel, parking, to be one of the major problem points of the commuting experience.


So we took to the streets, carrying out interviews on both Pittsburgh residents as they parked in the city and also Pittsburgh Parking Authority employees  and we were able to generate a model of user motivations that lead to certain parking behaviors. Our interviews uncovered several major flaws in the current paid public parking implementation in Pittsburgh:

  • Finding an open parking spot is time consuming
  • Public parking signage is ambiguous
  • Parking payment machines require users to input their license plate numbers, which prolongs the time to pay and increases cognitive load on the user to remember that number
  • Payment using Pittsburgh machines is inefficient in that users always must over pay to ensure they buy enough parking time and if they underestimate how much time they need, they must physically return to the machine to pay more money
  • There is no way to report people who are parked illegally to authorities

Questions from a survey we took of Pittsburgh residents


When it comes to paying for parking, 2 things matter: how much of a rush the driver is in and how much of a risk they are willing to take in parking without paying. Examining different combinations of these 2 properties allowed our team to generate user personas to aid our design.

We developed 3 personas that all fell in the not-inclined-to-risk-not-paying-for-parking category. 1 is constantly in a rush and the other 2 are typically not as rushed.




This is the user model we generated to describe the general tendencies of our personas as they represent people we interviewed int their parking habits.


Parkey has 4 major features:

  • Finding and displaying open parking spots
  • Demystifying street signs
  • Reporting on parking “status” (how much time left on meter, option to pay to extend parking time)
  • Reporting illegally parked vehicles

We wanted Parkey’s interactions to be highly gestural because users will probably be using the application while driving. The app’s navigation hinges on a “sliding cards metaphor” where each screen slides up or down into focus  or to the right to reveal the menu. Button pressing is minimal, again, to allow users to manipulate the app without looking at it.


Here is an example of a mock up for the “finding a parking spot” use case, made in Balsamiq Mockups:



Here is a gif of Parkey being used (via Keynote mockup). Click it to see it in action!