Experience Design

Design is about creating experiences for people. When considering solutions to complex socio-technical problems, designers must give special attention to the interplay of the social and physical context, information, and user behavior. The goal of this team-based assignment is to envision a provocative, interactive, intelligent product-service system that supports a defined goal within one of the design briefs listed below.

The team’s design solution must meet the needs and/or desires of a target set of stakeholders under the theme of body-based sensing for health. Teams should strive to introduce a product-service concept that’s unique for the marketplace, feasible, and desirable for one of the target groups listed in the design briefs.

Teams will be comprised of 3-4 people based on how students fill out the team formation survey on the important links page.

Learning Goals

  • Doing online research to understand a problem
  • Conducting field observations to form insights
  • Cultivating empathy toward users and creating personas
  • Creating storyboards and conducting interviews
  • Framing a problem based on user research
  • Ideating and refining concepts
  • Sketching and making physical prototypes
  • Testing prototypes with users
  • Understanding how sensors and displays can integrate into a user experience
  • Creating a moodboard and color scheme
  • Developing and implementing a design language for multiple screens/artifacts
  • Creating digital screen designs and clickable prototypes to demonstrate key interactions
  • Pitching ideas to others (clients, managers and developers)

Design briefs

Each team should pick one of the following briefs, and then design a product-service concept that would appeal to the target stakeholders. These three design briefs fall within an intersection of personal informatics, aging, and health: How can we bring technology to bear to truly improve the care and day-to-day lives of the elderly or health challenged user? How can we collect and leverage useful health data that we now have access to with the improved integrated sensor and information technology of our time? How can we strengthen communication and relationships between our users and their family, caregivers, and the rest of society?

We will assign each team to one of these three target stakeholder groups to understand and empathize with through online and ethnographic fieldwork:

  1. Health conscious: The primary user will be someone interested in living healthier ways of life through physical activity, diet, and other healthy living choices. Secondary stakeholders may include fitness partners or personal trainers.
  2. Elder care: The primary user will be someone later in life confronted with the challenges of aging, e.g. immobility, loss of hearing and eyesight, increased preventative medicine and care. The secondary users may include younger family members, life partners, or elder care professionals.
  3. Illness-related challenges: The primary user will be someone confronted with the challenges of living with a major illness (such as heart disease; stroke; lower respiratory infections; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; cancer; diabetes; Alzheimer’s and other dementias; third world diseases, e.g. diarrhea, tuberculosis; cirrhosis of the liver). The secondary users may include health-support communities, healthcare professionals, or other caregivers.

A3 materials and resources

List of potential contacts organized by design brief

Email template that you can personalize

Guide for developing interview questions

What to do:

Your team's goal is to perform human-centered research and design around one of the briefs outlined above. This assignment has two phases. For phase 1 (Research), teams will conduct online research and fieldwork to more deeply understand one of the given design briefs. Teams will create personas to articulate stakeholder concerns. Finally, your teams will generate storyboards to articulate hypotheses about the problems and potential solutions, and then conduct interviews with stakeholders to sharpen your point of focus. Your team will present your research in class. For phase 2 (Conceptualization), teams will prototype a product-service solution that includes tangible on-body interfaces and digital information delivered on a mobile phone and other displays (such as a smart watch). Teams will make physical prototypes, conduct user testing, create moodboards, and develop a design language specification. Following the design spec, teams will design screens for a mobile application, a slide show and large-format poster to illustrate your concepts, including interactions between sensors and displays around the body.

Phase 1: Research

  1. Online research. Get to know your particular topic inside and out. Read all the information that you can find online and summarize the specific challenges. Write a list of all resources (books, URLs, journals, conference papers) so that you can cite them later. Create a list of all existing product-services that you find and summarize what they offer and what they lack.
  2. Field Observations. Visit a locale pertinent to the design issue and spend a significant amount of time (i.e., at least one hour per team member) taking in holistic observations (structural, sensorial and behavioral qualities). Observations should be recorded through field notes (written descriptions and sketches), and field recordings (photographs, sound recordings, video). Include photos of sketches, on-site photos, and all recordings in your team folder, and select the most compelling evidence to include in your user research presentation, poster, and overall slide deck.
  3. Personas. Based on insights from user research, create two personas that illustrate the archetype stakeholders in your problem context. One persona should describe the primary stakeholder who will be the main user; a second persona should describe a secondary stakeholder who will interact with the primary stakeholder (e.g., a family member, a healthcare professional, etc.). The two personas might use your proposed design concept to share information.
  4. Storyboards. Write at least six scenarios that describe problematic situations for your stakeholders and illustrate these as storyboards. Each storyboard should include a title that summarize the problem and four frames that clearly communicate 1) the context (setting, stakeholders, etc.), 2) the problem, 3) the proposed solution, and 4) a resolution. Teams will share storyboards in class and get feedback on how effectively they communicate the issues and concepts.
  5. Interviews. After a round of iteration on the storyboards, teams should interview stakeholders to better understand the real problems and to select a direction for your design concept.
    • Reach out early to start scheduling potential interviews. Leverage the contacts we provide and your own social networks to find potential interviewees.
    • Create an interview guide with open-ended questions for your intended stakeholders. This should include general questions about the interviewee’s activities related to the topic and specific questions tied to the storyboards.
    • Each student on the team should conduct at least one interview with a stakeholder. Bring your storyboards to the interviews to get feedback from your potential users. Make sure to use the consent form and record audio of the interview where possible.
    • Have a different team member listen and take notes on other teammates’ interviews so that everyone has a chance to both interview and analyze an interview. As a team, summarize the key insights you've learned about the problem and the stakeholders.
  6. User research slides. Create a presentation that articulates the team’s understanding of the design problem they aim to tackle and identify stakeholders. Include insights from online research and observations, personas, and selected storyboards. Include video and audio clips from fieldwork and interviews. Frame a mission statement that your team will tackle in part 2.
    • Talks should be no longer than 8 minutes

Phase 2: Conceptualization

  1. Physical/paper prototypes. Create physical mockups out of cardboard, paper, and other materials to demonstrate how users will wear and interact with sensors and information displays to monitor some aspect of their health.
    • User testing. Test your physical/paper prototype with other teams during class and with at least ONE target stakeholder. Create a list of tasks for the stakeholder to complete and a list of interview questions about their thoughts on and experience with the prototype. Take observational notes, sketches, pictures, and/or videos. Make sure to ask for permission for these beforehand. Iterate on the prototype based on this feedback.
  2. Moodboards. Drawing inspiration from your user research and personas, create a list of adjectives that captures the essence of the emotional experience you want to create with your design ideas. Then, using this list of words, create a moodboard as a collage of images that have a consistent mood and feeling with a relatively small set of colors. The moodboard will be used to select colors, typefaces, and design elements for your design language specification.
  3. Design language specification. Based on your moodboard, create a design language specification that shows your team's choices for colors, typefaces, and design elements. Your design language should specify how to indicate a visual hierarchy across digital and physical media (your screen designs, slides and poster, respectively).
  4. Screen designs and clickable prototype. Using your team’s design language, create a click-through demo showing high fidelity screens that illustrate the key interactions for the main problems identified in the research phase. All teams will formulate their designs based on the Apple iPhone 6 Plus form factor (5.5-inch, 1920x1080 pixel resolution). The screen designs should be imported into online screen prototype tool (e.g., InVision, Flinto, MarvelApp, etc.) so that people can try a click-through demo.
    • User testing. Test your online clickable prototype with at least 3 users by creating a list of tasks for users to complete and a list of interview questions about their thoughts on and experience with the prototype. You may conduct your user tests with stakeholders in person, or take advantage of UserTesting.com, which is an online testing tool. See the information below on UserTesting.com for details about how to get the free credits and how to use their service. As a deliverable, turn in:
      • A document with your list of tasks (at least 2 tasks) and interview questions (at least 5 questions)
      • Raw data from each user test (if using UserTesting.com, you can download a recording of each session. If conducting tests in person, capture videos or audio from the session)
      • Based on input from your testers, create a short document (less than 1 page long) with a list of design considerations for the next iteration (bullet-point format is acceptable). You do not need to implement these changes, but if you do, make sure to show the before and after version so we can see how the feedback affected your design.
  5. Final slide deck. Create a slide deck (designed using your team's design language) that describes key user research insights, your mission statement, and your novel product-service concept for how to solve the problem. It's recommended that your slide deck include the following:
    • A title page with your team name, date, team members and emails.
    • A slide to introduce the challenge.
    • 3-5 slides on user research insights from your online research, fieldwork, and interviews about the situation, stakeholders, and problems.
    • 1-2 slides on your personas.
    • A slide on your team’s mission statement.
    • 3-5 slides on your novel product-service concept. Include details about the physical setup, communication between stakeholders, and interaction with the mobile application. Include screen designs for at least three pages of the prototype. Include a URL to your clickable online prototype that demonstrates the key interactions.
    • 2-3 slides showing your team’s moodboards and design specifications.
    • A conclusion slide with contact information and acknowledgements.
    • Extra slides for any additional materials that demonstrate your process and were not included in the presentation slides (e.g., notes, photos, storyboards, etc.).
      • Optionally, these materials can be in a subfolder in your team folder called “Process Materials”
  6. Pitch slide. Create a single slide using your team’s design language that describes your concept. Select one team member to give a 60-second pitch of your team’s concept for the final poster session. This pitch will happen right before the open poster session.
  7. Large-format poster. Create a large poster with vertical layout at a size of 54" x 36" designed using your team's design language. The poster should introduce the challenge, share insights from user research, and introduce your novel concept for how to solve the challenges (same information as the slide deck). Your poster should also show your process materials (personas, storyboards, moodboards, design language spec).

Timeline & Due Dates

  • Tues, Feb 13: Initial online research and field observations
  • Thurs, Feb 15: Draft of two personas, five written scenarios, and interview guide
  • Tues, Feb 20: Draft of five storyboards, share initial interview results
  • Thurs, Feb 22: List of adjectives, and old magazines moodboarding
  • Tues, Feb 27: Research Presentations
  • Thurs, Mar 1: Materials for physical/paper prototyping
  • Tues, Mar 6: Paper prototypes ready to test
  • Thurs, Mar 8: Final moodboards, draft of design specs
  • Tues, Mar 13: Draft of screen designs
  • Thurs, Mar 15: Draft of poster and slide deck
  • Thurs, Mar 22: Conceptualization Pitches and Posters

Helpful Materials/Tools for this Assignment

Technology considerations

Teams must demonstrate their ability to design a preferred future based on the technology of today and the near future. The design should consider the rich set of sensors and capabilities of today’s smartphones. However, teams may also envision new capabilities as long as they are reasonable. Existing capabilities include:

    • Location sensing via GPS
    • Movement via accelerometers to sense repetitive activities such as walking, running, biking, etc.
    • Sound via a microphone for ambient audio and voice
    • Cameras (still and video)
    • Light sensors
    • Speakers, vibration, and LED lighting on screen for feedback and feedforward
    • Object and face recognition
    • Biometrics such as fingerprint reader
    • Connectivity to internet using Bluetooth, wifi, and mobile network
    • Device to device communication via NFC (near field communication) either with touch or very close proximity (http://www.nearfieldcommunication.org/)

Final Deliverables

    • On the important links page, follow the link to create an A3 team folder (use your last names in the name of the folder). Your team folder should contain the following:
      • PDF of user research presentation (see above for details)
      • PDF of final slide deck (see above for details)
      • PDF final poster design (see above for details)
      • Pitch slide (also include this in the pitch deck for the final poster session)
      • Subfolder with all your process documentation (user research, personas, storyboards, moodboards, design language spec, photos of physical/paper prototypes, raw data/notes and considerations from user testing, and all iterations of the final artifacts)

Grading Rubric

Grades will be based on the following:

Research (50%)

  • Online research (5%)
    • Did the team exhaustively search about the problem space, including statistics, user stories, competitors and other related information?
    • Did the team adequately and clearly summarize their findings?
    • Did the team provide citations for all resources?
  • Field observations (10%)
    • Did the team spend at least one hour per team member making observations in field locations related to their topic?
    • Did the team include raw data from their field work, including photos, video, audio, sketches and notes?
    • Does the team extract out any interesting observations, concerns, issues etc?
  • Personas (5%)
    • Are the personas informed by preliminary user research?
    • Are the personas coherent, plausible, and credible?
    • Do the personas clearly communicate the primary and secondary stakeholder goals, needs and desires?
  • Storyboarding and interviewing (15%)
    • Does the team create at least six scenarios to storyboard?
    • Do the storyboards clearly communicate the context, problem, solution, and resolution for each scenario?
    • Does the team’s sketches improve through iteration?
    • Does the team understand the context and prepare effective, open-ended questions to guide the interviews?
    • Does each member of the team conduct at least one interview?
    • Does each member of the team analyze an interview by another teammate?
    • Do the interviews yield useful feedback from stakeholders? Does the team adequately summarize the lessons learned from interviews?
  • Presentation of user research (15%)
    • Is the research topic clearly defined?
    • Do the insights relate back to the topic in a meaningful way? (how do your insights inform the direction of your research?)
    • Did your team effectively synthesize user research across online research, observations, and interviews?
    • Does the team support key insights with evidence such as quotes, images, and audio/video clips?
    • Does the team offer a clear point of view and mission statement?
    • Slides should include:
      • introduce and define your topic
      • insights from online research (supported by evidence, quotes, images, clips, etc.)
      • insights from observations (supported by evidence, quotes, images, clips, etc.)
      • personas (created based on research) and selected storyboards (used in interviews)
      • insights from interviews (supported by evidence, quotes, images, clips, etc.)
      • formulate a problem statement

Conceptualization (50%)

  • Physical/paper prototypes (5%)
    • Does the team consider the form factor and ergonomics for their envisioned product?
    • Can the team demonstrate how sensors and displays integrate as part of a product-service scenario?
  • Moodboard (5%)
    • Does the team’s moodboard present a holistic mood or emotion?
    • Does the team include a list of words that informed the moodboard?
    • Can a palette of colors, a set of typefaces, and design elements be distilled from the team’s moodboards?
  • Design language specifications (5%)
    • Is the language specification visually appealing and effective in communicating the design details?
    • Does the design spec draw inspiration from the moodboard?
    • Does the design spec provide details on how to implement a visual hierarchy in the screen designs, slide deck and poster?
  • Screen designs (click-through prototype) (10%)
    • Is the overall solution original and creatively meet the needs/goals of the primary and secondary stakeholders?
    • Does the click-through prototype demonstrate how the concept serves the main interaction scenario?
    • Do the screen the team’s screen designs draw inspiration from the moodboard and design spec?
    • Do the screens have consistent and appropriate navigation and hierarchy? Do they follow current design patterns?
  • User testing (5%)
    • Did the team conduct a test of their physical/paper prototype with at least ONE target stakeholder?
    • Did the team conduct a test of their digital prototype with at least THREE users (either through the UserTesting.com service or in person)?
    • Does the team include a list of tasks and interview questions to guide users through the key interactions for both the physical/paper prototype and the digital prototype?
    • Does the team document any important design considerations for both user tests?
  • Slide deck (10%)
    • Does the team include a single pitch slide that visually represents the high-level concept behind their proposed solution?
    • Does the slide deck clearly introduce the challenge, user research insights, and proposed solutions?
    • Are the proposed ideas novel and practical as solutions to the challenge?
    • Does the slide deck use the design language specification consistently?
    • Does the slide deck have visual appeal and does it communicate information clearly?
  • Poster design (10%)
    • Does the poster make use of hierarchy, image, and grid?
    • Does the poster clearly introduce the challenge, user research insights, and proposed solutions?
    • Are the proposed ideas novel and practical as solutions to the challenge?
    • Does the poster use the design language specification consistently?
    • Does the poster have visual appeal and does it communicate information clearly?
    • Does the poster include other process materials such as personas, storyboards, mood boards, and design language specifications?