Assignment M1 (Fall 2016)

Due: Sunday, October 16th, 2016, by 11:59PM UTC-12 (Anywhere on Earth). This assignment is based on lesson 3.3 (Needfinding), and focuses on planning your needfinding process.

Assignment Instructions

Answer the following prompt in a maximum of 1200 words, with a recommended length of 1000 words; if you supply more than 1200 words, the grader will stop reading at the 1200th word, and you will not receive credit for anything written after that. You are encouraged but not required to complement your responses with diagrams, drawings, pictures, etc.; these do not count against the word limit, though any captions, text in tables, etc. does. Compile a plan for your initial needfinding exercise for the project you’ve selected. First, define the problem space (~100 words). Define the location in which the problem takes place, including elements of the environment surrounding the problem. This is also where you’ll define the segment of the target domain for which you’re interested in developing (e.g. the turning alerts for a navigation app or the search function for a Netflix app). You’ll develop this more when you actually carry out the needfinding exercises, but you need to have some rough idea to know where to start looking. Then, outline your user types (~100 words). For whom are you interested in designing? Make sure to include their demographic information, their levels of expertise, and their motivations for engaging in the task. It is fine to have a broad, diverse audience rather than a narrowly targeted one, but that diversity needs to be defined explicitly. With that foundation, select three low-intervention methods of needfinding, such as:

  • Naturalistic observation.
  • Participant observation.
  • Analysis of existing user interfaces.
  • Analysis of product reviews.
  • Analysis of existing data logs.

It is also acceptable to perform higher-intervention methods with friends, family, or classmates; however, you should not recruit participants publicly without IRB approval. If you choose to talk with friends, family, or classmates, you could:

  • Conduct short interviews
  • Send surveys
  • Perform think-aloud exercises or post-event protocols
  • Apprentice with them on the task

Select three of the above nine methods of needfinding. For each method, lay out a clear plan for that needfinding exercise (~150 words per method). The nature of the plan will differ based on the type of needfinding you select; in naturalistic observation, for example, you would specifically outline where you will observe, when, what data you will gather, etc. For interviews, you would write the loose interview script you would follow. For existing interfaces or product reviews, you would outline the number of other resources, where you would access them, and what methods you would employ to evaluate them. Make sure to connect each of these needfinding methods to the items from the data inventory. Then, for each plan, specifically outline the potential biases you might encounter and your plans for controlling for them (~100 words per method).

Submission Instructions

Assignments should be submitted to the corresponding assignment on T-Square 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 describes how to access the assignment. This is an individual assignment. Every student should submit an assignment individually. Late work is not accepted without advanced agreement except in cases of medical or family emergencies. In the case of an emergency, please contact the Dean of Students.

Grading Information

This question is graded out of 20 possible points. Your grade and feedback will be returned to you via T-Square. An announcement will be made via Piazza when grades are returned.

Peer Review

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. Peer reviews are due one week after the due date of the assignment, and count towards your peer review grade. Remember, peer reviews are graded not just based on completion, but also based on feedback quality. Each peer review should be substantive, whether in the way it critiques, praises, or elaborates on the assignment.