Aleks Marjanovic

Interdisciplinary Architect

BIKE FIX FUNDAMENTALS!

A USER-CENTERER EXPLORATION INTO THE DIY BIKE FIX CULTURE

UX commandment #1: do preliminary research

Any bike owner will say- maintenance is a mandatory part of owning a bike. Many of those who ride, ride because its fun and easy, but also because it is cheap. Maintenance costs, on the other hand, are an inevitable burden for those who chose this mode of transport. Many turn to DIY community spaces, since bikes are relatively simple mechanical structures One such popular place is the Mitschraubgelegenheit within the courtyard of the Cologne University Mensa building. This small institution has a working group of 8 people that help those in need of bike repair to do so, free of charge. I headed off there, along with my tattered old bike, in search of a relevant design challenge for this particular set of users- the DIY bike fixer. I did interviews with the volunteers there- the ‘expert users’- to see what their take was on how DIY bike fix experience could be made easier.

UX commandment #2: know thy user

Next, I went on to examine how well bike users were acquainted with the idea of DIY bike fix, whether they did it themselves and if they did, where they got this information, I surveyed a total of 50 people (a vast majority of which were students between the age of 18 and 30). Further, I analysed the gathered information and visualised it in the form of diagrams and charts. A common fix problem- fixing a broken bike chain- was given to those who were surveyed to gain insight into the thought process. The solutions could be placed in 3 categories: visual, visual and textual, and strictly textual. An overwhelming majority had simple diagrams, accompanied by explanatory text.

UX commandment #3: iterate the solution

The first solution that comes up is rarely the best, and this project was no exception. I started off thinking about a DIY bike fix booklet: a pocket sized publication that those in need could pick up at the mitschraubgelegenheit. After conducting a user interviews and surveys, and seeing the fixing in action, the problems with this solution became apparent. Not only did the DIY fixer not have the unburdened (and not to mention clean) hands to handle a small booklet, but very often it was necessary for volunteers working there to communicate a process or task to the DIYers, and a small personal pocketbook with tiny visuals would not do. Drawing from the knowledge I gained in the surveys, I iterated with a number of posters meant to diagrammatically explain the process, as well as leaving space for text and comments for expert users. DIY posters for DIY bike fixes!

Take a look at the digital addition to this project