Assignment P3 (Spring 2018)
Due: Sunday, February 18, 2018, by 11:59PM UTC-12 (Anywhere on Earth). This assignment is based on lessons 2.5 (Design Principles and Heuristics) and 2.6 (Mental Models and Representations).
Answer the following four questions in a maximum of 400 words each (on average), with a recommended length of 350 words each. Including more than 1600 words in your assignment as a whole may incur a grade penalty. Clearly delineate where each answer starts and ends.
You are encouraged to complement your response with diagrams, drawings, pictures, etc.; these do not count against the word limit. If you would like to include additional information beyond the word limit, you may include it in clearly-marked appendices. These materials will not be used in grading your assignment, but they may help you get better feedback from your classmates and grader.
Question 1 (from Lesson 2.5): ~400 words
Many of the design principles and heuristics we discuss here relate to other material we have already covered in the class.
Select three of these fifteen principles and describe how each principle might be used to support the creation of an invisible interface, especially in terms of each one’s relationship to specific phases of bridging the gulfs of execution or evaluation.
Then, select two principles and describe how each principle could be used to create interfaces that emphasize the participant view of the user; in other words, select two principles and describe how each relates to understanding not just the user’s abilities and thought process, but also the context in which they exist outside their interaction with the interface.
Hint: Certain design principles, especially those that focus on equal access, are largely concerned with the context of the task, and particularly the extra context introduced by different user populations based on disabilities, language barriers, or prior experience with technology.
Question 2 (from Lesson 2.5): ~400 words
From your everyday life, select an interface that is intolerant of errors the user commits. Describe the interface, and describe how it responds to user errors, highlighting how easy the error is to commit and the penalty associated it.
Then, describe how constraints might be used to improve the interface to avoid errors in the first place. Then, describe how improved mappings could be used to avoid errors. Then, describe how improved affordances could be used to avoid errors.
These redesign options can be mutually exclusive (in other words, you can generate either three different redesigns, one for each principles, or one redesign that incorporates all three principles). However, all should target the error(s) you selected originally.
Hint: If you’re having trouble coming up with redesigns for all three principles, you may want to select a different interface. Interfaces embedded in the real world, like car stereo systems or ATMs, are often good places to think about how different principles can address the same task because the design is more complex (incorporating both digital and physical artifacts).
Question 3 (from Lesson 2.6): ~400 words
Games provide an interesting place to investigate slips, mistakes, and errors because they are one of the few places where we might not always want to make accomplishing the task easier.
Select one game with which you are familiar (besides Tetris); this could be a board game, a card game, a sport, a video game, or any other kind of game.
First, describe a slip that a player of the game might make. Remember, a slip generally occurs when the player knows what action they should take, but does something different instead. In Tetris, this might be a player wanting to move a piece to the right, but pressing the left button instead. Then, describe why the player might make that slip. Then, briefly suggest a way the interface could be changed to prevent that slip in the future.
Second, describe a mistake that a player of the game might make. Remember, a mistake generally occurs when the player knows what they want to accomplish, but doesn’t know how to actually make it happen. In Tetris, this might be a player wanting to rotate a piece clockwise, but pressing to rotate it counter-clockwise instead because they do not know which button rotates clockwise. Then, describe why the player might make that mistake. Then, briefly suggest a way the interface could be changed to prevent that mistake in the future.
Finally, describe something that makes the game challenging, but that is not a slip or a mistake. For example, in Tetris, there may be no obvious place for a piece to go, but that does not force the user to commit a slip or a mistake.
Hint: For slips, leveraging constraints and better mappings are often good tools for ensuring the user performs the action they know they want to perform. For mistakes, leveraging discoverability and better representations can help a user figure out the right action.
Question 4 (from Lesson 2.6): ~400 words
From your everyday life, select an interface that you would argue uses a good representation of its underlying content. Describe the connections between the representation and the underlying content. Answer the question: in what ways does the representation exemplify at least two criteria of a good representation?
Then, select an interface that you would argue does not use a good representation of its underlying content. Describe the mismatch between the representation and the underlying content; in what ways does the representation violate at least two criteria of a good representation?
Hint: Good design tends to go unnoticed; that’s the point! If you’re having trouble thinking of an interface with a good representation, think of a bad one first; then, think of an interface in a similar domain that does not experience the same problems as the bad one. It’s likely that the better interface uses better representations.
Assignments should be submitted to the corresponding assignment submission page in accordance with the Assignment Submission Instructions. Most importantly, you should submit a single PDF for each assignment. This PDF will be ported over to Peer Feedback for peer review by your classmates. If your assignment involves things (like videos, working software prototypes, etc.) that cannot be provided in PDF, you should provide them separately (either through the class Resources folder or your own upload destination) and submit a PDF that links to or otherwise describes how to access that material.
This is an individual assignment. Even if you already know who you want to work with on the team project at the end of the semester, this assignment is to be completed by everyone individually.
Late work is not accepted without advanced agreement except in cases of medical or family emergencies. In the case of such an emergency, please contact the Dean of Students.
As with all assignments in this class, this assignment will be graded on a traditional A-F scale based on the extent to which your deliverable met expectations. This letter grade will be derived from internal scores assigned to each problem.
After submission, your assignment will be ported to Peer Feedback for review by your classmates. Grading is not the primary function of this peer review process; the primary function is simply to give you the opportunity to read and comment on your classmates’ ideas, and receive additional feedback on your own. All grades will come from the graders alone.
You will typically be assigned three classmates to review. You receive 1.5 participation points for completing a peer review by the end of the day Thursday; 1.0 for completing a peer review by the end of the day Sunday; and 0.5 for completing it after Sunday but before the end of the semester. For more details, see the participation policy.