experience & product design
Improving nighttime walking safety for college students.
Goodnight is a nighttime safety app that helps students find late night walking buddies within their campus community.
Identifying the problem.
Many college students tend to stay on campus until very late hours working on group projects, using labs and study spaces, or taking night shifts of on-campus jobs. For students living off campus, going home alone late at night can feel unsafe. So, how can we help students get home safely and comfortably?
Diving deeper into the problem space.
We began by creating a stakeholders map to identify the different people, resources and factors that may directly or indirectly affect the student.
From there we decided to look into the existing nighttime safety resources offered by Carnegie Mellon University to find out what aspects of each resource students liked and disliked.
Through online surveys, shadowing, in person interviews, and card sorting, we discovered most students don’t use or are not aware of the campus resources provided. See some of our findings below:
Connecting the dots.
The two key findings that struck me the most were that (1) students prefer walking home with others but find it inconvenient to constantly coordinate with a friend and (2) there is a large pool of individuals on similar schedules walking in similar destinations.
This revealed that students are in fact the best safety resource for each other. However, there is nothing that connects these students to each other.
From research and analysis, I developed an idea of crowdsourced walking buddies by connecting students to their existing social network and their campus community at large. This idea leverages existing beliefs and behaviors of students.
Factors Unique to College Campuses
1. Sense of community and security
2. Shared connections and openness to new people
3. Pool of people with similar habits in close proximity
Social — location sharing (ex: Find My Friends, Snapchat)
Service — crowdsourced travel (ex: Uber, Lyft)
I then mapped out user decisions and key touch points in their journey to better understand where I can facilitate connection and engagement.
I began by exploring several layout structures including a map-based format, regular list, and stacked cards. The map and list format both proved too cluttered so I decided to use a stacked card structure to ensure clarity and information hierarchy.
I also explored a variety of color schemes, ranging from dark to light. While a darker palette seemed to match the nighttime theme more, it felt less approachable and friendly. I also considered that students would be looking at the app in campus work spaces, which are often brightly lit, making the high contrast of a dark palette harsh on the eyes.
A nighttime safety app built on the sense of community within college campuses.
Goodnight serves as an organizational touchpoint that uses students' existing social networks to connect walking buddies based on familiarity (friends, acquaintances, schoolmates) and common routes. The app aims to not only help students walk home safely but also build a stronger sense of campus community.