CS 3724 - Human Computer Interaction - Summer 2005 -- Pardha S. Pyla
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All due dates are on the class calendar.
The objective of this homework is to make you think and analyze devices or software which we use in everyday life. For this homework, pick any device (e.g. your cell phone, your remote control, your PDA, etc.) or any commonly used software (e.g. Microsoft Word, Photoshop, etc.) or any regularly accessed site (e.g. VT library page, ebay.com, etc.) and perform a critical analysis of it. You are not expected to use HCI concepts, principles, or guidelines the system uses or breaks. At this point in the course I understand that you are not in a position to do such scientific evaluation or analysis. Just describe in your own words why you think the system you choose is good or bad. However, remember that we are not concerned that much about the functionality of the system. We are mostly concerned with the design, the user interface, ease of use, etc. For example there might be systems that have the capability to do a lot of things but be very hard to use by the users for which the system was intended or designed.
This is an individual assignment and Virginia Tech Honor Code is in effect. Your report can be a maximum of 4 pages long. On the cover page, include the following information in that order:
Provide your detailed analysis in the next two pages. You should provide strong arguments as to why the system is good or bad. You have only two pages to provide these arguments (10-12 point size, Times New Roman font, 1.5 spacing, single-sided, minimum 1 inch borders). Be very clear and avoid verbosity. Use bullets effectively.
You can use the 4th page for annotated pictures. Using images is optional. If you opt to use images, don't try to put too many small images to make a point.
How to do it
Pick a system that is commonly used in everyday university life that you either strongly like or dislike. Try to analyze why you like or dislike that system focusing on design and user interface. For example you can say that you like the Virginia Tech homepage because it has the most accessed options on a menu that is clearly visible, etc. But on the other hand you cannot say that you dislike the CNN news site because you don't like the content on the page or because you think CNN resorts to biased news reporting.
First introduce the system in a paragraph or two. Describe how many times you use the system daily and for what purpose. Next, provide a brief description of your stand on the system (you like or dislike it). Then proceed to provide evidence to support your stand. You can use pictures to make your point but remember to refer to them in the text. You can also compare the system to similar ones in the market to make a point.
The last part of your two page report should be a high-level summary and thoughts about how to make the system better.
Proofread your report several times to make sure there are no typos or language errors.
The objective of this homework is to make you familiar with the rather difficult technique of critical incident recording. For this homework you will be shown Camtasia clips of user interactions with a system. You should record the critical incidents as they occur in the recording and turn in that list. This will be an in-class activity. I will play the clips in class, and the list of critical incidents will be due by 5:00PM on that day. More details coming soon.
The objective of this homework is to make you familiar with redesign. Often, you will have to take an existing system and redesign it to make it better. The important thing to remember here is that the users of that system have already invested quite some time in learning to use the existing system and they will not appreciate your completely changing the design and requiring them to re-learn the new interface. This is a tradeoff you as a designer, the users, and the clients have to make based on the value addition of your new redesign and the effort required to re-learn the new interface.
However, for this homework, you will be redesigning a very simple existing system which does not have a dedicated user base.
You just submitted a proposal to GradesForStudents Inc for redesigning their existing GradeViewer 1.0 application. The current application (which you are using to view your grades for this class) is very limited in its functionality. You proposed to completely redesign it and add tons of extra features such as what if analysis, graphical representation of the student's standing in a particular test or the whole class, password resetting, class summary view for the instructor, etc. You claim that being a fresh graduate from VT, you are very familiar with all the requirements for such a program and that having had the CS3724 in Summer 2004, you are very familiar with user interface design issues. The company is very interested and they want you to submit a more detailed and structured proposal with your initial design ideas and a proof of concept prototype. You are to submit such a proposal within the following constraints.
Your report can be a maximum of 5 pages long. On the cover page, include the following information in that order:
You can use the next 4 pages (10-12 point size, Times New Roman font, 1.5 spacing, single-sided, minimum 1 inch borders) for your HTA, design rationale, rough screen layouts, etc. Use your space efficiently to show the overall design. Remember that this is just a proof of concept stage so no details are necessary. A list of the various tasks the users can perform with rough screenshots for the relevant tasks should be enough.
How to do it
Follow the process we learned in this semester so far starting from needs analysis to scenarios to initial screen designs. Try to improve your design by using the guidelines we covered in class. Being students, you know the needs and requirements for such a system. Be creative in understanding the needs from an instructor point of view for such a system. Brainstorm a little for each activity in the process. Once you have all the products from this process, pick the parts that you feel are relevant to go into your report. Remember that you are writing the report for the boss of a company. It is very likely that he or she is not a technical person. Therefore, he or she might not understand cognitive load, perception, affordances, etc. On the other hand, he might show your report to the technical people in the company for their opinion. So it is your responsibility to write the report in such a way that a CEO and a CTO of a company can understand and appreciate. Because you are trying to propose a user interface design, I would strongly suggest you use some rough screen layouts with annotations showing what tasks are possible for a student or instructor (don't spend too much time on refining the look of the interface. That will come later, if your proposal is accepted).