Phases‎ > ‎

Design Refinement

Due ~11/13

  • Iteratively refine your design from idea/paper prototype to an online, free-standing "looks-like, works-like" prototype.
  • Improve the responsivity (to user needs) and professionalism of your design/prototype.
  • Identify and balance appropriate tradeoffs as you progress.
  • Conduct and receive professional evaluations; learn to use and to benefit from design tools including cognitive walkthrough and heuristic evaluation.

  1. Using the synthesized feedback you collected in your Design Development, produce an implementation plan for a freestanding (i.e., no "wizard of Oz") automated prototype. Render this prototype in a series of design documents including a site-map or interaction flow and wireframes or other screen representations.
  2. Conduct a cognitive walkthrough of your prototype design, "proofreading" and resolving any ambiguities you are able to identify.
  3. Produce an automated prototype -- as described in the Heuristic Evaluation assignment -- and user documentation sufficient to allow an outside designer to operate the prototype.
  4. <As individuals, conduct heuristic evaluations of the prototypes of your assigned teams. This is part of the Heuristic Evaluation assignment and not this assignment, but it will take place on a fixed schedule during the middle of this assignment.>
  5. Receive feedback from the design professionals (aka classmates) who have evaluated your prototype. Note that this will happen at a specified time on 14 November.
  6. Your writeup for this activity should cover all of the design modifications you made between paper prototype feedback and your (intended) response to heuristic evaluation. As always, you do not need to comprehensively document every change. Instead, you should produce a curated explanation of the design at the end of this stage, well justified in evidence from any prior experiences (including user needs analysis, usability testing, and professional evaluation). You may find before-and-after pictures as well as anecdotes and quotes are useful in telling your story. (It would be perfectly acceptable to also produce appendices to your report that are more exhaustive and less curated.) In particular, your report should tell your presumed client:
      1. What is your design? How does it work?
      2. What changed (especially: between paper prototyping and the proposed final design), and why did you change it? [Provide evidence/grounding.] Your answer may include any of the following:
        • Tradeoffs did you make in bringing it online. 
        • Down-scoping of your project.
        • Responses to paper prototyping user feedback.
        • Responses to team-internal deliberations, including but not limited to cognitive walkthrough or guidelines.
        • Responses to heuristic evaluation feedback.
      1. What (if any) key insights did you gain during this phase? [What evidence supports these insights?]
      2. What questions do you have now about your project (i.e., are there things you would like to investigate)? What shortcomings are you aware of?

As always, illustrate your report with appropriate photographs. You may incorporate (by reference or explicitly) any intermediate deliverables as well as your prototype. You may also refer to deliverables from your Needs Analysis and Design Development phases.


  1. Your writeup should hang from a single page on your project site. You may include as many subsidiary pages as you need. 
  2. Please inline images where they are illustrating accompanying text, i.e., make it possible to view both words and images simultaneously. 
  3. Include only enough to make a compelling case for your brief and to demonstrate that your approach is grounded in research. Curation is a key metric here. 
  4. If your project site were a printed report, it would probably be between 3 and 5 pages (not counting any comprehensive documentary appendices, such as cognitive walkthrough, design sketches, or comprehensive prototype documentation).
  5. Please also update your effort chart with rows that account for your work in this phase.

This assignment will be judged on the clarity, coherence, and compelling nature of your report -- exploring designs, selecting among them, and documenting solution quality -- along with the effectiveness with which you ground your report in evidence.

  • Do you communicate a clear rationale for your selected design?
  • Do you provide compelling explanations of why/how it changed during this phase? Are these explanations grounded in observations or feedback (either from this phase or the prior one)? Have you kept sight of your original goals throughout this process?
  • Did you make appropriate choices in creating a partial prototype? Have you provided enough that your design can realistically be assessed and its responsiveness to user needs evaluated? Does it function well, and do you document your design adequately? (This may be in an appendix, with key aspects in the body of the narrative.)
  • Have you identified shortcomings (or deliberate simplifications/omissions) in your design, where appropriate?
  • Do you tell a compelling, goal-directed, appropriately supported and curated story? Have you excised unnecessary and irrelevant distractions? Have you presented the package in a suitably professional way?
Note that comprehensive coverage is not one of the criteria against which your work will be measured. This is a class project, and in any case time management always requires tradeoffs. However, you should document concerns, shortcomings, or areas not adequately investigated, as well as indicating why these tradeoffs were made.