Design Challenges

Design Challenges  account for approximately 20% of your grade.

Requirements / Deadlines
Each student individually completes 4 Design Challenges of different types over the course of the semester, on their own out-of-class time.

Due between Thursday October 19th and Thursday November 16th
  • Presentation Challenge 
  • Open Challenge A or B
  • Open Challenge C or D
Due between Monday November 13 and Monday December 4. 
  • Redesign Challenge
Submission Mechanisms
  1. Submit Open challenges using this open challenge form
  2. Submit Redesign challenges using this redesign challenge form.
  3. Presentation Challenges you will complete in front of the class (or with instructors before class) during one of the time slots that you can up for here: Sign up Link.

The challenges described below are aligned with the course objectives on the syllabus.

Challenge Details

1. Open Challenges A and B
Each student in the class will complete one of the options listed below.

Open Challenge Option A: Open video presentation
The same criteria as the presentation challenge, except it will be covering an interface that you did not select for your presentation challenge, and will be recorded and uploaded to a video sharing site. You will submit a link to the video using the open challenge submission form.

Rubric: You will be graded on the content of the presentation as well as the production quality.

Open Challenge Option B:  Physical Artifact
You will bring a physical artifact to a member of the teaching team for a walkthrough. This can happen during open studio time or can be scheduled outside of class, potentially during one of the pre-class slots available at this sign up sheet. LINK.

Rubric: you will be graded on the appropriateness of the materials you selected, your justification of the selections, and execution of the demo to the instructor.

// Physical Option 1 - Personal Paper Prototyping

Find a product that you use. Make a paper prototype that you imagine could have been an early version of the design. Describe why you the materials (types of paper, sketching tools, etc) that you used and why you chose them. Prepare a script that allows a member of the teaching team to go through the intended interactions.

// Physical Option 2 - an object

Link to Example 1

Link to Example 2

Bring in a physical object that has usability issues. It can be a chair that is physically difficult to adjust. It can be a digital camera that does not make it clear how to delete photos. Be prepared to walk through an interaction with the object and explain what went wrong using the terms of the course and propose ways that the usability issues could have been avoided.

2. Open Challenges C and D
Each student in the class will complete one of the options listed below.

Open Challenge Option C:  Cross Interface Experience
Link to Example

Introduce an experience that supports users across different interaction styles. For example, a person starting a road trip might plan their trip using Google Maps and then interact with their planned route on a mobile device during the trip. A user of Amazon's music service may set up a playlist or library and interact with it through a website, mobile app, or speech-recognizing interface (Echo/Alexa).

Describe how well or how poorly the designers of the experience you chose incorporated unique aspects of each device / form factor used. Was the experienced enhanced or hurt by the decision to offer different modes of interaction?

Rubric: you will be graded on clarity, understanding of the terms you use, and how well you include various forms of evidence for the arguments you make (images, references to readings etc).

Open Challenge Option D: Target User Group
Link to Example

Pick a company that has hired you to test a multi-site (web, handheld [voice]) interface. Describe two distinct populations of potential users that you would want to bring in for user research and/or usability testing; in each case give at least one concrete screening criterion that identifies a person as a member of that population.  (These might be questions you would give to a participant recruiting firm to use in ruling a person in or out of the test group.)  In addition, describe one population that you would not include in your test groups, along with a screening question that could be used identify members of this population.  For each one, explain briefly (but compellingly) why you selected this population for inclusion or exclusion.

a.  users you want:

b. more users you want:

c.  users you don’t want:

Rubric: you will be graded on clarity, understanding of the terms you use, and how well you include various forms of evidence for the arguments you make (images, references to readings etc).

3. Responsive Redesign Challenges

Rubric: you will be graded on demonstrated understanding of heuristics and guidelines.

Redesign Challenge Option A 
do the worksheet below with all the existing prompts

Redesign Challenge Option B - With Accessibility Focus
do the worksheet below with attention to a subgroup of the users with accessibility limitations - such as visual, physical, or hearing impairments. Replace the heuristics with accessibility guidelines and base your redesign on making sure that the site or app can adhere to guidelines it may be violating.

Worksheet / Activity Description Below: 

Pick a system, draft a design brief that you believe captures the designer’s intentions for the system. Then you will explore the existing implementation and ultimately redesign of a system that meets the goal stated in the design brief better than the current implementation.

Worksheet Part 1:  The Design Brief.

Simply state what you believe to be the goal of the system's original designers. For example, if you choose, you might make a brief around "the site's design should enable users to purchase travel on airlines, book hotels, rent cars with a clear understanding of several options and an easy way to complete bookings."

Worksheet Part 2:  Users and Values.

Before considering the working system, you should think about prospective users.  In each of the next three boxes, describe a potential user of this system.  Although your answers are presumably not informed by background research, you should treat these as mini-persona-scenario combinations.  There are many potential users and scenarios; choose three that are interestingly different and would be informative for your design.  You may wish to avoid situations that have strong personal emotional resonance for you; and bear in mind that it is easier to design objectively for others than for oneself.  

In each of the following boxes, describe a potential user and usage scenario. In each case, your description should include information about the person using the system, about the thing they are doing. Each response should be about three sentences long.  

a.  A user/scenario:

b.  A user/scenario:

c. A user/scenario:

Given what you understand from the design brief above and what you have described about the prospective users and context of use for this system, list key values that you believe any implementation must embody or communicate.  In other words, “A system that effectively addresses user needs must be...” or “…must make the reporting party feel...

d.  Key values are:

Worksheet Part 3:  Heuristic Evaluation.

Conduct a heuristic evaluation of the site or app, focusing on the most significant issues. While you should avail yourself of the Nielsen heuristics as appropriate, you may also take into account the user needs/values that you listed above or other criteria you believe would be important to a successful design.  Select the three most egregious (or serious) issues to describe below.

For each issue, list the heuristic or principle violated or the need that is unmet.  Make it clear why the site does not satisfy the specified heuristic, principle, or need.  Also list the severity of this violation using the same scale as for the in-class heuristic evaluation:

0. Don't think this is a usability problem.

1. Cosmetic problem

2. Minor usability problem

3. Major usability problem; important to fix

4. Usability catastrophe; imperative to fix










Worksheet Part 4:  Redesign

Finally, pick two of the problems that you have identified with the site or app as implemented and provide redesigns that address them. You may find a sketch helpful in explaining. Attach files as you see necessary.

Presentation Challenges

// Overview:

These are 3-minute presentations that you give in front of the class (or instructors before class) during one of the time slots that you can up for from the link above. 

We are expecting a concise (3 minute) presentation on the concept. Unlike the reading presentations, you could think of this as more of a narrative - one good insight you want to share with everyone. You can watch one of these optional three minute TED talks for inspiration. One of the teaching team will give a demo talk so you can get a feel for what we're looking for.

Rubric: you will be graded on clarity, understanding of the terms you use, and timeliness.

Presentation Challenge Option A - Touch Interface Analysis

Link to Example

Take a photo of an interface that invites physical manipulation with a hand (of physical or virtual media). This image will be the backdrop of your 3-minute presentation. You will discuss either something that interface does well or poorly. You must use one or more of the design elements below in your explanation.

a.  affordance

b.  mapping

c.  grouping

d.  consistency

e.  visibility

f.  modes/modality (in the user interface sense)

g.  speaking the user’s language

Presentation Challenge Option B - Learning From Feedback

Link to Example

Describe a significant flaw in some version of your project. You do not have to draw from a version of your project that you turned in; it may include an early idea, etc. Use a photo, screen shot, or sketch as the background image to situate the version of your project you are speaking about. Explain what it was that you observed or were told that helped you to identify a flaw that you fixed based on the feedback. Be concrete and specific; do not just say “users had trouble with this feature.”