★ View the final projects from the course here.

Overview

The semester-long project is an opportunity for students to design a computing system to support an activity or relationship within a particular context.

This year’s theme for the projects is: photos and videos for social good. Students are encouraged to design systems that provide value to users by organizing, sharing or taking photos or videos. The theme focuses on systems that highlight moral principles, help users, or connect people together in some way. Example photography systems that fit this theme are assisted photography apps, like Seeing AI, photography applications that automatically curate collections of meaningful photos, or social networking services based on photos.

Photos and videos can be captured in many different contexts:

  • co-located relationships
  • remote relationships (e.g., families, co-workers)
  • people seeking help (e.g., support networks)
  • communities (e.g., activism)

with many different devices:

  • professional or consumer cameras
  • smart phones
  • wearables
  • robots

In addition, photography systems can be made interactive (e.g., as in Vázquez and Steinfled, 2014) and potentially incorporate new forms of interaction (e.g., conversational or ubiquitous interfaces).

The goal of this years’ theme is to encourage students to think about how photography/video can positively impact individuals and/or their communities. As part of the project, students need to identify the users and activities that their proposed design will support. If there are existing solutions for the chosen users/activites, it is important to identify what does not work for them and how the proposed design provides better support.

Project Components

The project will have 4 parts, each with their respective assignments and deadlines:

NOTE: For all group deliverables (assignments 2-4), a collaboration record must be submitted along with the rest of the assignment by its due date/time. The purpose of the record is to document what each member of the team worked on for each deliverable, as in this template. The absence of this record in Canvas will result in a deduction of 10% of the assignment grade. This record does not count for assignment page limits.

Part 1 - Initial Project Proposal (15% of the grade)

The goal of the first set of assignments is for students to think beyond a technology-centric proposal of a phone app, website, or interaction. Instead, they are encouraged to think of problems that people face and the role that interactive computing and photos/videos can take to help approach these problems. Students should think broadly about people and activities for this assignment; the other assignments will focus on narrowing down technological solutions.

  • Assignment 1a: Proposal Brainstorm (3%). Let’s get started thinking about some ideas! For this deliverable, students need to think about three starting points for brainstorming domains, problems, and goals that might be supported by photos or videos. By domain, we mean an aspect of life, such as wellness. By problems, we mean something negative that needs to be solved (not unsolvable bad things). To identify goals and problems, it is often useful to ask “why” (e.g., within the finances domain: Why does a person take a picture of a receipt?).

    The submission for this assignment is a 1 page pdf document (with the student’s name and netid at the top) that includes a description of 3 initial ideas for the project. Each idea should be one or two sentences, identifying the domain, and the problem or goal. At most, one of the ideas may come from the domains mentioned before (wellness and finances). This milestone will be graded on a scale of 3pts. One point will be given per unique proposed idea.

    The ideas that students propose will be used in class as starting points for a brainstorming session on this years’ theme.

  • Assignment 1b: Project Proposal (12%). Students to propose and analyze a problem that could be the basis of a design project for the semester.

    The submission for this assingment is a pdf document (with the student’s name and netid at the top) that motivates and describes a design problem worth investigating throughout the semester. The description should explain what the problem is, why it is an interesting problem, and why it is not trivial to solve. If there are existing solutions to the problem, the submission should clearly describe their issues and highlight any positive aspect worth retaining in the future. When appropriate, examples of existing systems and practices can be used to support claims.

    The proposal should be no longer than 1 page (excluding images). Grading for the project proposal will be based on the description and motivation of the chosen problem (3.5%), analysis (3.5%), creativity and novelty (2.5%), and clarity and presentation (2.5%). In terms of clarity and presentation, the text in the project proposal should be easy to read and concise. Images should be included in the report with respective figure number and captions, and be placed near their references. Students should check for typos, spelling, and grammar errors.

  • Assignment 1c: Project Bid. A number of submitted proposals will be selected going forward, and students will review them (including the respective feedback from the course staff). Students will then submit a bid on projects and potential partners.

    The submission for this assignment will be done through a web form.

    Bidding is mandatory for all students. The course staff will make the final group asssignments based on students’ preferences.

Part 2 - Choosing a Design (20% of the grade)

The goal for the second set of assignments is to choose a design for the chosen problem through a combination of design research, task development, and ideation of several potential designs.

  • Assignment 2a: Project Ideation (1%). Students work in groups to brainstorm ideas of possible:

    • tasks: what a person might accomplish with a design
    • features: capabilities that a design might have
    • form: types of technologies on which the design might be developed (e.g., phone/tablet, desktop, wearable, robot, etc.)
    • interactions: types of social situations that a design supports

    The goal is to explore the space of possibilities without polishing a particular idea yet. At this stage, priority should be given to the quantity (and diversity) of the ideas, not to the quality of any one of them. The brainstorming effort may include ideas from existing products or solutions, but no pair of ideas should be alike.

    For the brainstorm activity, students should divide two letter-sized sheets of paper into 16 squares by folding the sheets 4 times. On each of the resulting 32 squares, they should sketch one idea. Each idea should a quick doodle with a caption or a one-sentence idea. The content of the squares should be self-explanatory. A person familiar with the project but who is not a member of the group should be able to understand the idea that each square conveys.

    The submission for this assignment is a picture of the brainstormed ideas. The picture should be legible and include at least 30 ideas. Students should continue brainstorming throughout the project.

  • Assignment 2b: Design of a Research Plan (1%). Students develop an initial plan for their desired research.

    The submission for this assignment is a 2 pages pdf document that:

    1) Describes the people who might use the design and other stakeholders that are worth considering. What is their background and the environment where you will examine their current practices? Provide enough information to convince the reader that you will find and engage with your target participants.

    2) Describes the design research methods that will be used to engage with and learn from the people who might use the design. The starting assumption is that contextual inquiries with three participants will be used to research a design. Other design research methods can be proposed or added when appropriate.

    The description of the design research methods should be detailed. For example, for contextual inquiries, discuss current behaviors you want to observe and your planned focus. For interviews, discuss the types of questions you plan to explore and provide an example set of talking points. For a diary study, discuss what type of data you plan to ask participants to bring or collect. Additionally, describe how the data will be collected.

    The assignment will be graded based on the description of people and plan (0.4%), feasibility (0.3%), and specificity or level of detail (0.3%).

  • Assignment 2c: Design Research Milestone (2%). Students begin their design research with at least one participant, reflect on what they learned, and update their plans for additional design research.

    The submission for this assignment is a 1 page pdf document that describes the first participant(s) from your design research and your findings:

    • Who was observed or interviewed? What is their background? What was the environment?
    • What was learned from the research?
    • What tasks, problems, or opportunities were uncovered?
    • Were there difficulties establishing rapport or getting the desired information?

    The pdf document should also describe what remains to be pursued in the design research:

    • What are your plans for the remaining participant(s)?
    • How do you plan to change the plan for your design research based on what you learned?

    Remember that design research can be difficult to get right. Important topics may be unresolved at this stage. Thus, changes are expected for the remaining of the research.

    This assignment will be graded based on the information gathered from the first participant(s) (1%) and the plan for the remaining participant(s) (1%).

  • Assignment 2d: Design Research Review (2.2%). Students complete their planned design research with at least 2 additional participants and reflect on what they learned. Observations are organized in themes, problems, or practices to help inform the design.

    The submission for the assignment is a pdf document (with 4 pages maximum) that describes:

    • A description of key findings.
    • Who was observed or interviewed? What is their background? What was the environment? Note anything unique about each participant and comment on the rationale behind the observations. Participants’ names should be replaced with pseudonyms in all documents to protect their anonymity.
    • The high-level themes and problems that the participants shared in their practices. Do these themes, problems, practices suggest tasks that are important to design for?
    • Task analysis questions:
      • Who is going to use the design?
      • What tasks do they now perform?
      • What tasks are desired?
      • How are the tasks learned?
      • Where are the tasks performed?
      • What other tools does the person have?
      • How do people communicate with each other?
      • How often are the tasks performed?
      • What are the time constraints on the tasks?
      • What happens when things go wrong?

    NOTE: If it is hard to identify high-level themes, problems, practices at this point, it is possible that additional understanding through more design research needs to be done. Students should ensure that their design research has provided insights and perspectives needed to proceed to the next stage of the project.

    This assignment will be graded based on the description of key findings (0.3%), the participants (0.3%), the quality of the themes that were developed (0.8%), and the answers to the task analysis questions (0.8%).

  • Assignment 2e: Task Review (1.8%). Students develop a set of tasks that will be explored in a set of potential designs.

    The submission for the assignment is a pdf document (with 2 pages maximum) that builds on what has been learned in the design research, and describes six tasks that are integral to the overall design goal. The six tasks should be real world tasks and span a wide range of functionality and difficulty. Each task should be described in text (one paragraph) and in detail. The description of each task should convey a problem, say what is accomplished, with what goal, and how difficult the task is (from easy to hard). How the tasks are accomplished should be left open for this assignment. The assignment should include tasks that people already do.

    The assignment will be graded based on the six tasks (0.2% per task).

  • Assignment 2f: Design Milestone (2%). Students brainstorm and sketch three distinct designs for their interface in order to explore the design space. Each design must address at least four of the six tasks from the prior assignment. The designs must demonstrate significant consideration of substantially different approaches to your problem.

    The submission for the assignment is a pdf document that describes:

    • the six tasks (one paragraph each, updated as needed from the previous assignment)
    • for each of the three initial designs:
      • the high-level idea of the design (one paragraph)
      • legible images of sketches on paper of the key aspects of the design (not digital mockups)
      • how to complete each of the four sketched tasks (one or two sentences per task describing each the steps)

    The assignment will be graded based on the tasks (0.2%) and each design (3 x 0.6%).

  • Assignment 2g: Design Review (2%). Students choose a design idea to pursue during the remainder of the course based on the design sketches from the prior assignment. Once a design is selected, students choose two important tasks that will be refined in future. The selected tasks must be representative of the experience of using the design.

    The submission for the assignment is a 1 page pdf document that conveys a strong understanding of the selected design and tasks:

    • Why was the design chosen?
    • What makes the design better suited to the people for whom the design is targeted?
    • Why are the chosen tasks more compelling than the others?

    The assignment submission should then include legible images of storyboards (one of each selected task). The storyboards should be created in paper, and then scanned. They should clearly indicate major aspects of the functionality of the design and what the interface will be like. A person outside the project group should be able to understand how the design supports each of the tasks that are conveyed in the storyboards. Descriptions, sketches, and color can be added to the storyboards as needed to help convey ideas.

    This assignment will be graded based on the rationale for the chosen design (0.5%) and each of the storyboards (2 x 0.75%).

  • Assignment 2h: Report of the Design Research (5%). Students prepare a report documenting their process for choosing a design. The report is a revised version of the prior design research assignments based on the feedback received from the course staff.

    The submission for this assignment is a pdf document that contains:

    1) Title. Short and creative title capturing the key idea of the project.
    2) Team. The name of the members of the team and their role in the design research effort (or their contributions).
    3) Problem & Solution. An overview of the problem being tackled and a concise description of the proposed solution.
    4) Research Goals, Stakeholders & Participants. A description of the design research goals and methods, the stakeholders, and the participants. For the research methods, the report should explain why they were chosen. For the participants, the report should include a description of their backgrounds and their environments.
    5) Research Results & Themes. A description of the design research results and a discussion of the common themes, problems, and practices that emerged as a result.
    6) Task Analysis. Answers to the task analysis questions. The answers should be updated based on the understanding of the problem and design at this stage of the process.
    7) Proposed Design Sketches. Scanned images of the three initial designs in the context of their tasks. The report should include one paragraph for each design that discusses how the design supports the tasks.
    8) Chosen Design & Tasks. A paragraph describing the chosen design and two tasks to further pursue.
    9) Written Scenarios. A description of the steps that a person will go through to accomplish each of the chosen tasks based on the chosen design. The description should explain how a person would accomplish the task with the design.
    10) Storyboards of the Design. Updated storyboards of the design in reference to the scenarios.

    The report should be 8 pages maximum (not counting images). Grading will be based on the content of the report (4%) and clarity/presentation (1%).

  • Assignment 2i: Design Research Presentation (3%). Students present their process in narrowing the design.

    The presentation should convey/describe:

    • the overall problem and motivation (explained as a story),
    • an overview of the design research effort of the group,
    • the three design sketches that were developed based on 4 tasks,
    • the selected design storyboards and tasks, and
    • a summary of the lessons learned in the design research process.

    The presentation will take place during regular class hours, and the slides should be submitted in pdf form through Canvas before the beginning of the class. Any necessary fonts and visual materials in the presentation should be embedded in the pdf.

    This assignment will be graded based on the content of the presentation (2%) and the delivery in class (1%).

Part 3 - Refining the Design (15% of the grade)

The goal of the third set of a assignments is to iteratively refine the chosen design from Part 2 through prototyping, inspection, and user testing.

  • Assignment 3a: Low Fidelity Prototype (1.5%). Students create a low fidelity prototype that allows them to start testing their design. The assumption is that students will make paper prototypes, but other types of low fidelity prototypes are allowable provided there is a good rationale given the chosen design. The prototype should support testing of the two primary tasks.

    The submission for this asssignment is a pdf document that shows the paper prototype, including:

    • An overview image of the entire prototype.
    • Detailed images showing how the prototype supports the two primary tasks. For paper prototypes, the images should provide a walk through the two tasks.

    The assignment will be graded based on the overall completeness and appropriateness of the prototype (0.75%), as well as the documentation of each task (0.75%). If a medium for prototype other than paper is used, a clear rationale should be provided in the submission.

  • Assignment 3b: Heuristic Evaluation (1.5%). Students conduct a heuristic evaluation of the low fidelity prototype. It is expected that students will use Nielsen’s heuristics, but other heuristics are acceptable provided there’s a good rationale for their choice.

    For this assignment, students bring their low fidelity prototype to class so that another team can evaluate their prototype. The paired teams will split in half, and each half team will conduct and receive one heuristic evaluation. Thus, each team will receive two evaluations of their prototype.

    The submission for this assignment is a 1 page document that includes:

    • which members of the team participated in the heuristic evaluation and which role they took in the evaluation (conducted the evaluation or facilitated it for another team).
    • legible image(s) of the paper prototype and notes taken during the evaluation.

    This assignment will be graded based on the participation of the members of the team (0.75% per half team).

  • Assignment 3c: Usability Testing Milestone (2.5%). Students document changes resulting from the inspection-based analyses and begin usability testing with one participant.

    The submission for this assignment is a pdf document that includes:

    • A table or list of the results from the heuristic evaluation. For each identified issue, include:
      • an image of the relevant portion of the prototype,
      • a text description of the identified issue (including the heuristic that is violated),
      • the severity of the issue (0 for no problem to 4 for usability catastrophe), and
      • an image and explanation of the revision of the prototype that was implemented by the team.
    • A discussion of the first usability test, with:
      • the roles of each team member that participated in the test,
      • a description and rationale for the test, the participant, background, and environment,
      • a description of the test protocol,
      • a description of anything that was learned about the testing process, and
      • a table or list of results from the test. For every (positive or negative) critical incident, include:
        • a text description of the incident indicating whether it was positive or negative,
        • an image of the relevant portion of the prototype, and
        • if the incident was negative, an explanation of the severity of the incident and an image and description of the revision that was made to the prototype to address the incident.
    • A plan for the remaining usability tests:
      • Who will be recruited for the tests?
      • What goals does the team have for the remaining tests?
      • What roles are planned for each member of the team for the remaining tests?
      • Are new approaches going to be employed for the remaining tests? If yes, explain why and how.

    The assignment will be graded based on issues identified from heuristic evaluation and corresponding revisions (0.6%), discussion of usability test and plan (1.3%), and description of the first usability test and corresponding revision (0.6%).

  • Assignment 3d: Usability Testing Review (2.5%). Students complete three usability tests and finalize paper prototype based on what was learned.

    The submission for this assignment is a pdf document that includes:

    • A discussion of the three usability tests. For each test, describe:
      • The rationale for the participant, background, and environment
      • The test protocol
      • The roles of each team member who participated in the test
      • The revisions of the prototype that were made in the process
    • A table or list of results from the three usability tests. For every (positive or negative) critical incident, include:
      • a text description of the incident indicating whether it was positive or negative,
      • an image of the relevant portion of the prototype, and
      • if the incident was negative, an explanation of the severity of the incident and an image and description of the revision that was made to the prototype to address the incident.
    • A discussion of the two to four most essential modifications that were made to paper prototype through the inspection and usability testing process. The discussion should explain why detecting and fixing these issues is important in the design.
    • Legible images of the final paper prototype after the usability tests, including:
      • an overview image that shows the entire paper prototype,
      • detailed images showing how the prototype supports the two primary tasks

    This assignment will be graded based on the description of the plan carried for usability testing (0.6%), the issues identified in the usability tests and the corresponding revisions made to the prototype (0.7%), the discussion of key revisions (0.6%), and updated images of the paper prototype (0.6%).

  • Assignment 3e: Design Mockup (2.5%). Students transition their prototype into a higher fidelity mockup of the design based on the final paper prototype. It is expected that the mockup will be a digital muckup with key frames to illustrate the design, but alternative forms can be considered provided there is a good rationale. The mockup should effectively communicate all critical aspects of the design, including how it supports the two primary tasks. Additionally, the mockup should be created in an appropriate manner for the final report, website, and poster.

    The submission for this assignment is a pdf document that:

    • Includes images of the mockup of the design, including:
      • Overview images
      • Detailed images showing each component for the two primary tasks
    • Discusses the decisions and changes that were necessary for the design at this stage

    The assignment will be graded based on the overall completeness and appropriateness of the mockup (1%), the documentation of each task (2 x 0.5%), and the discussion of decisions and changes in the implementation (0.5%).

    NOTE: There are many tools to create digital mockups, such as:

  • Assignment 3f: Design Refinement Report (4.5%). Students prepare a report documenting their process to refine their design. While there is significant overlap in the content between the report and prior assignments, the report should incorporate the feedback received from the course staff and any revisions made to the design.

    The submission for this assignment is a pdf document that contains:

    1) Title. Short and creative title capturing the key idea of the project.
    2) Team. The name of the members of the team and their role in the design research effort (or their contributions).
    3) Problem & Solution. An overview of the problem being tackled and a concise description of the proposed solution. This section is a revised version of the “Problem & Solution” section of the previous report based on the scope of the final design and the considerations taken up until this assignment.
    4) Initial Paper Prototype. Description of the original paper prototype and the primary tasks as a baseline for the iterations that followed.
    5) Testing Process. Description of the testing process, including methods and participants. The description should include a retrospective discussion of how the design process was refined.
    6) Testing Results. Summary of the results of the paper prototype testing and refinement. What was learned about each version of the prototype? What changes were made as a result of the heuristic evaluation and usability testing?.
    7) Final Paper Prototype. Final version of the paper prototype with a description of critical aspects of the design and how the prototype supports the two primary tasks.
    8) Design Mockup. Description of the higher fidelity mockup, how it supports the two tasks, and a discussion of any changes that were necessary to increase the fidelity of the design.
    9) Discussion. Reflection of the project and discussion of the results. For example:

    • What was learned from the process of iterative design?
    • How did the process shape the final design?
    • How have the tasks changed as a result of the design process?
    • Could more iterations help the design?

    10) Appendix. Supplementary material with additional details on the design process, including instructions or task descriptions that were used in the tests and critical incidents.

    The report should be 8 pages maximum (not counting images or the appendix). Grading will be based on the content of the report (3.5%) and clarity/presentation (1%).

Part 4 - Communicating the Design (10% of the grade)

The goal of the fourth set of assignments is to communicate the design and design process.

  • Assignment 4a: Initial Poster (0.5%). Students create a 32”x40” vertical (portrait) poster that communicates the design process to a general audience. The goal is to present the work in a visual form to interested parties from across campus and/or industry. The poster should quickly convey the most important aspects of the work.

    The submission for this assignment is a poster in pdf format that includes:

    • Project Title
    • The name of the members of the team (and optionally a team logo)
    • A brief description of the problem
    • Value proposition
    • Key functionality of the solution
    • Brief description of the design process and iteration

    Grading of the poster will be based on the components described above (0.7%) and presentation (0.3%). The content of the poster should be easy to digest.

  • Assignment 4b: Final Poster Presentation and Pitch (2%). Students present their final posters and a 1 min pitch of their project in class.

    The pitch should summarize the problem and design solution. The pitch should convince the audience that the problem is worth investigating and that the design effectively addresses it.

    The submission for this assignment is a pdf document with the pitch in written form, and the latest version of the poster in pdf form as well.

    The grading for this assignment will be based on the poster (1%), and the content (0.8%) and timing (0.2%) of the pitch.

  • Assignment 4c: Initial Website (1%). Students create a static website to convey the goals of the project and their design process. The website should be appropriate for advertising the project online.

    The submission for this assignment is a zip file of a directory with a set of static html pages and any supporting files (e.g., images, video, poster). The directory should include at least one starting page for the project website named “index.html”. All the links in the website should be relative URLs.

    At minimum, the website should contain:

    • Title of the project
    • Brief overview of the problem and solution
    • Links to the Assignment 2 report, Assignment 3 report, video, and poster.

    Grading of the website will be based on the components described above (70%) and its presentation (30%). It is critical that no public material includes participants’ identifying information.

  • Assignment 4d: Video Prototype (1.5%) Students create a video that communicates the design to a broad audience. The duration of the video should not exceed 2 minutes.

    The submission for this assignment is a video that conveys the problem, the context, and final design. The video should be created in an mp4 container with H.264 format, which is portable and easily playable. The video submission should not exceed 50MB in size. Tip: HandBrake can be used for free to encode video.

    Grading will be based on the content of the video (0.75%) and quality (0.75%). Quality will be evaluated based on how polished and well-timed the video is. The video should be appropriate for publicizing the project online.

  • Assignment 4e: Poster Session (3%). Students present their work in a poster session. Students also present their 1 min pitch to a team of judges.

    Grading will be based on team attendance (2%) and the final pitch (1%).

  • Assignment 4f: Final Video, and Final Website (2%). Students finalize their video, and website.

    The submission for this assignment is a zip file with the updated website and all supporting files, including final version of the video (up to 50MB in size, H.264 format in mp4 container) and the final version of the poster (pdf format with embedded fonts and images). The instructor will post the final website for the project in the course website.

    Grading will be based on the content and presentation of the website (1%) and the video (1%).

Acknowledgements

The course-long project is inspired by UW’s CSE440: Introduction to HCI course project.