Team Assignment #1: Find a Team, Find a Project (3 weeks)

The heart of this course is a semester-long project, in which you will design, implement, and evaluate a user interface. User interface design is an iterative process, so you will build your UI not just once, but multiple times, as successively higher-fidelity and more complete prototypes. In order to have time for these iterations, we need to get started on the project as early as possible. 

Project teams may consist of 3-4 people. Teams will primarily be formed based on the results on the first brainstorming exercise and in-class discussion. A directory of all students in the class will be posted to help you with informal networking to find teammates. At least two people on your team should have solid programming skills in the same programming language or platform that your team decides to use. One member of the team should set up a team web page on which you will post the results of team assignments. Ensure the names and email addresses of the team members are at the top of the page and post it to a server. Organize the page so the instructors can quickly find your assignments each week. Email the names of the team members, a name for your team, and a URL to

Group projects will involve the design of health interfaces for older adults users. Non-technical, older adults who will be evaluating your interface at the end of the semester. 

Here are some guidelines to help you develop your project proposal.

Your project must

Your project should

One way to figure out if your ideas is creative, original, and non-obvious is to do a lot of searching and reading on your own of research papers in the HCI literature to figure out what really is a new idea. The instructor will tell you when an idea does not meet these criteria, but it will be left to you to figure out why and propose alternatives. Coming up with a good idea, and knowing when and having the courage to switch ideas when you discover one is not good, is one of the biggest challenges in this course.

Your project must fall into one of these three categories:

An important note: Your technology must run robustly on standard Windows-based PCs or Android phones/tablets. Students without substantial mobile experience are strongly encouraged to simulate their interfaces on PCs in a language they already know well to reduce the complexity of project implementation. 

What to Post

Your proposal should be about a page long, and include the following parts:

  1. Problem. Describe the problem you chose and how the system will help someone.
  2. Target users. Characterize the user population. (Be much more specific than "older adults" ... which older adults? Motivated by what?)
  3. Solution. Describe a possible solution to the problem --- i.e., the interface that you envision, and how it will address the problem. You aren't absolutely committed to your solution, since you may find after building and evaluating some prototypes that a wholly different solution will work better.

Team Project Assignment #2 – Task Analysis and basic GUI (1 week)

Your mission in this exercise is to design the best interface you can to address the task described below. You will have one week to employ the skills you have learned to date to develop the design for an interface. Your goal will be to storyboard the interface in as much detail as you can so that someone can understand exactly what how it would work and critique it, and to implement a test screen that shows that you have the ability to use basic GUI components in your language of choice.

The Task:

- A relative died and left you as the proud owner of of the "Nerd Bistro," one of the new hippest spots to socialize and eat in town. As part of the experience that makes the restaurant unique, it uses the latest and greatest technology. Before your relative passed, she had ordered enough tablet computing devices so that each diner could have a tablet for electronic ordering and service during the meal. You goal is to figure out how to use these tablets to enhance the dining experience for older adults (and others).

In this team assignment, you will start the design of your term project by doing the following:

Important note: Your interface may not require all of these widgets. If that is the case, use the ones that you need and then create another screen that includes all the rest and shows you know how to implement them. You do not need to implement the actual operation of the interface, just show screens that clearly demonstrate that you know how to use the widgets.

What to Post. Your user analysis and task analysis report should include the following parts:

Team Project Assignment #3 – Interaction Metaphors and StoryBoarding (1 week)

In this team assignment, you will continue the design of your term project by exploring possible interaction metaphors and combining the work you did independently last week with the instructor's "challenge" comments.

What to Post. Your report containing the above.

Team Project Assignment #4 – Design Sketches and Paper Prototyping (1 week)

In this team assignment, you will continue the design of your term project by exploring possible design options.

What to Post. Include the following:

Team Project Assignment #5 – Paper Prototyping (2 weeks)

In this team assignment, you will do a full paper prototype of your interface. Your paper prototype should be able to handle anything that someone could do with your interface. You will then test the prototype with three older adults in full paper prototyping sessions. In response, you will redo your prototype.

For most teams, based on where things are at right now, this will require a lot of work! Get going!

What to Prepare. Before testing your prototype, you should:

Before you run tests with older adults, you will do at least two tests with two different family members or friends who are unfamilar with your project.

Testing. When you run your prototype on a user, you should do the following things:

Revise your paper prototype, and then run at least two additional tests with older adults who are in your target user group. It is up to you to find older adults to test with ... you will need to be resourceful.

What to Post You should post a report with the following parts:

Optional Team Project Assignment #5b – Paper Prototyping (1 week)

This is an optional but strongly recommended team assignment.

Revise your paper prototype one more time based the in-class paper prototyping session. Prepare your interface for a session with Stephen. Schedule this session the week of March 19th ... the earlier int he week, the better. Stephen will provide feedback on your idea and suggestions on changes you should make prior to handing in a final project.

You should have the entire interface implemented on paper for this session.

What to Prepare. Before testing your prototype with Stephen, you should:

What to Post:

Teams that complete this assignment and make changes to their design in response are likely to end up with substanitally improved final projects.

Team Project Assignment #6 – Computer Prototyping (2 weeks)

In this group assignment, you will do the first computer-based implementation of your term project.

Your computer prototype should be:

Here are some issues you should not worry about in this prototype:

After you hand in your prototype, it will be evaluated by your classmates in a class exercise. You must make it easy for other people in the class to be able to run your prototoype. If your prototype requires special hardware, you are going to need to bring whatever is required to run your software to class sessions from now through the end of the course. You can require evaluators to use a particular web browser and platform to ensure the correct appearance and operation of your prototype, as long as the browser/platform is commonly available.

You should create a separate web page for your evaluators (linked to your project web page) with the following information on it:

This must be posted by the beginning of class on March 29, because other students will be testing your interface during class.

Hint: You might think about getting a start on the project report at this point, see T9 below.

Team Project Assignment #7 – Heuristic Evaluation & Prototype Revision #1 (1 week) 

This assignment is identical to assignment T6. Please do not overwrite/change assignment T6. You are posting a new version of everything (this is so we can see how your idea has evolved from one assignment to the next).

What to Post   

Team Project Assignment #8 – User Testing & Prototype Revision #2 (1 week)

In this group assignment, you will conduct one or more user tests of your interface. It is up to you to find at east one older adult in your target user group to test with ... you will need to be resourceful.

User Testing  You will conduct user testing of your system. Prepare a briefing and three tasks. These may be the same ones that you used in paper prototyping, but you may want to improve them based on feedback from the paper prototyping.

Conduct a formative evaluation with each user:

Redesign Collect the usability problems found by your user tests into a list. Assign each problem a severity rating (as in T7 above), and brainstorm possible solutions for the problems. Then, fix your implementation to solve as many problems as you can in the time available, giving priority to severe problems.

If you can test with more than one user you should try to do so (because you will improve your idea), but only one is required.

What to Post

You need to be prepared to run an additional user interface test in class with your latest design.

Team Project Assignment #9 – Final Interface and Report

On April 19, your team will give a presentation of your project following these presentation instructions and the linked template: final presentation instructions.

Your final project report should contain the following:

Your report (including references and figures) should be no more than 8 pages long, following the CHI long paper format.

A this point, the expectation is that you have a robust, well-designed, and creative user interface that solves a real problem. It should reflect a great deal of progress from prior versions, even the version demonstrated in T8. Keep in mind what is being assessed is not only the idea, but evidence of major improvements in the design from prior assignments.

What to Post