Individual Project (Spring 2017)

Due: Sunday, February 26th, 2017, by 11:59PM UTC-12 (Anywhere on Earth).

Assignment Instructions

Answer the following prompt in a maximum of 2000 words, with a recommended length of 1500 words; if you supply more than 2000 words, the grader will stop reading at the 2000th word, and you will not receive credit for anything written after that. In this project, you are required to supply a visual redesign of the interface you’ve chosen.

Select any interface with which you are familiar. This may be a traditional desktop web site or application, but you are encouraged to think more broadly:

  • Physical interfaces, like the steering wheel, pedals, and dashboard of a car or the dials and panel of an oven.
  • Embedded interfaces, like the remote control-driven guide for a cable box or the panel of a Nest thermostat.
  • Mobile interfaces, like the Netflix app or Facebook mobile web site.
  • Wearable interfaces, like a smartwatch text messaging app or a blood sugar monitor.
  • Virtual or augmented reality interfaces, like a game for the HTC Vive or a navigation app for Google Glass.
  • Auditory interfaces, like the weather app for Amazon Echo or the Spotify app for Google Home.

Importantly, the interface that you choose must already exist; in the next set of assignments and in the group project, you’ll have the opportunity to address an as-yet unaddressed task, but for this individual project, the interface must already exist.

First, in ~750 words, critique the interface as it currently exists. What works well? What makes it work well? What doesn’t work well? Why doesn’t it work well? In writing this critique, it is critical that you ground your critiques in terms of the principles you have learned in Unit 2, both conceptually and using the same vocabulary.. Your critique will primarily be evaluated based on how well it grounds its praise and criticism in the principles covered in Unit 2, and how accurately it leverages these principles. We would expect any strong answer to use at least five principles covered in Unit 2, where a ‘Principle’ can be nearly any topic from the unit, including any of the design principles, principles like expert blindspot and learning curves, and concepts like gulfs of execution and evaluation. However, you are not limited to five principles, nor is five principles automatically sufficient if the individual principles are not leveraged with sufficient depth.

Second, based on your critique, redesign the interface. If it’s a visual interface (such as a mobile app, visual wearable interface, or traditional desktop application), supply visual mock-ups of the potential redesign. If it’s a physical interface, supply a sketch or similar representation of the altered interface. If it’s an interface that cannot be provided in a 2D visual form like a haptic, auditory, or virtual reality interface, describe the redesign in words using diagrams wherever possible. Clearly delineate the redesign from the rest of the submission so that it does not count against the word count. Your redesign can contain textual annotations or rely on text if it is non-visual, but the text should merely explain the redesigned interface, not justify it.

Third, justify the redesigned interface. In ~750 words, describe how your redesigned interface addresses the criticisms from the first section, while ideally preserving the positive elements of the original interface. Again, make sure to put your justification in terms of the principles covered in Unit 2, both conceptually and using the same vocabulary. You need not focus on the same principles covered in the previous section; you may, for example, leverage a particular principle to improve the interface even if it wasn’t explicitly violating that principle in the first place.

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 100 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. 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.