UCD 2009 project

The UCD 2009 course contains a compulsory project. We will be working on the project throughout the course, applying the methods of UCD - mostly a mix of Contextual inquiry and PD. This is a group work, a small group consisting of two -three members will be collaborating during next 8 weeks. The group members should be visiting the same demo times, and demo teacher can change the structure of the group at the beginning to achieve better results. The project is part of the grades and counts for 36% of the final grade.

There are two topics for the project, the demo teacher will assign the projects to the groups based on the structure of the team.

1 Time-management in small business and private users. Typically, entrepreneurs providing services (e.g. hair-dresser, physiotherapist, bar-tender) use a paper based calendar in which they keep booking information. The goal of this project is to use UCD methods to create requirements and prototypes for an electronic system proving same and /or better functionality.

2 The topic for the project is "Digital Life-stories for Seniors" (under the wider topic of "design for seniors"). Usually this is made by keeping personal diaries, collecting scraps from newspapers/magazines an/or collecting/authoring stories heard from predecessors or experienced during the lifespan. The goal of this project is to use UCD methods to collect requirements and create prototype(s) for an electronic system providing the flexible and easy-to-use functionality for (multimedia) "Life-book". If the group members are not native Finnish speaking persons, it is further required to ponder each method from the cultural point of view (e.g. how much the language affects the data collection etc.) At most two - three groups can take this project.

There will be four main phases in the project:
- data collection
- analysis
- prototyping
- evaluation

Tasks and Schedule (approximately in weeks)

1 Preparations
Find partners of the group. Give the group a name, and distribute responsibilities. At least you will need a manager (group management, task specific duties, publicity, reporting), analyst and designer. Start a blog (e.g. wordpress.com, blogger.com), publish a first post about your group and topic, and send information about your group (name, members, tasks, RSS to the blog) to your demo teacher.
From now on, you will be posting the diary of the course (use some specific tag) and the progress of the project (another tag). Both will be monitored. It is expected to have at least eight entries to the course diary (what was the topic, what did you learn, what was interesting, etc.), and several entries related to the project (see below).
If you decide that some of your project related posts are not meant for public (e.g. contain sensitive user data), use an access control mechanism, e.g. a password or key/invitation to the posts. Allow for comments for both types of entries.

2 Prepare data collection.
You will need to conduct contextual observations and interviews with _real_ users, potential customers of the product. This means you need to contact a small local company or customer that currently needs or is a user of some time/tasks management tool (typically a calendar). This can be, for example, a hair-dresser (booking), restaurant (table booking), professor (student consultations booking), dentist, cleaning service, kitchen (workers shift management), etc. In case of topic #2, you will receive the contacts to the users/clients from your teacher.
Note that we are not going to work with artificial data. Contact the potential customer and agree on time when you can come and do some observations (at least 1 hour) and an interview. You will need a digital camera (a mobile phone with good camera is OK), voice recorder (ipod, mobile phone, digital recorder), note-taking equipment. Demo teacher can help in obtaining a digital recorder if necessary.
Report on your progress on the blog (project entry) and have your selection of client approved by the demo teacher.

3 Data collection
Conduct a contextual inquiry using observations and interview. Give the members clear roles - moderator, interviewer, observer/recorder. Focus on current ways the work is being done (booking, changing, removal of times, communication, customers information, weaknesses and strengths of the current tools, visual appeal), on users (profiles) and their attitudes toward computerized systems, their current environment. CI helps you to understand how people solve problems, how they create meanins, and what needs they have.
Agree on one further meeting to show and evaluate your prototypes (done in steps 4 and 5). On the same day or very shortly after, begin working on interpretation of what you have just observed.
Report on your progress on the blog (project entry). Include photos from the CI session, artifacts, a summary of notes. Give a link to at least 5 minutes of interview data and post some observations about the CI.

4 Data analysis and interpretation - can take more time!
Transcribe important parts of voice protocol (observations, user quotes, interview) to a text file (e.g. to a spreadsheet). Create models of the work and integrate and consolidate them. Create (affinity) diagrams (by watching/listening the recordings, create some 20-40 notes), and identify occurring patterns, scenarios, interactions, etc.
You can create sketches and attempt to do a prototype - e.g. paper and pen, powerpoint, html, but because other tasks here take more time, you can postpone this.
Create two or more personas, based on your observations.
Document and report on your progress on the blog. Take a photo of the affinity diagram and publish it. Convert personas to pdf, upload and give links.

5 Prototyping - rapid prototyping
Create few prototypes based on the analysis. You can make paper prototypes or used some software tool (Photoshop, Powerpoint, html/css, Flash, etc.). You will bring these to users, but you can involve users in this stage - e.g. PICTIVE method. This will be considered a plus.
Document and report on your progress on the blog, include at least two screenshots of the prototypes and experiences with involving users, if possible.

6 Evaluation with users - can be merged to #5
Conduct an evaluation of the protypes you created. Let users explore the designs, tell their opinions. You can use e.g. pluralistic walk-through. Collect data, process to results, and include client's feedback, publish all on the blog.
Document and report on your progress on the blog.

7 Final report & Self-evaluation
Compile a report of your project, from each of the stages include as maximum data as possible, with your comments, insights. The report will contain the documents created during this project, plus the final results.

Send the report to your exercise teacher by end of February 2009 in pdf format.
Publish a self-evaluation of your work, in terms of efforts of each member, how well you have done (1-5, 5 best), how does the result reflect the ideas of PD, what methods you used, what would have done differently etc. Half page at least, publish on your blog before the final exam.