Four HCI Design Studio Projects

CS 247: HCI Design Studio at Stanford aimed at deepening students’ fluency with design for interactive technology. It provided an engaging learning environment in a design studio setting, connecting the concepts about iterative design practice with four hands-on projects.

The goal of this course is to enable students:

  • Become comfortable critiquing, receiving critiques, and iterating on their designs in an advanced studio environment.
  • Perform needfinding with community members and stakeholders that goes beyond surface-level observations and produces deeper insights and needs.
  • Communicate design ideas: visually through sketching and mocks, through show-and-tell reports to studio, and through presentation to large groups.
  • Identify the most appropriate question to answer for their design, and to rapidly create a prototype to do so.
  • Utilize current tools and technologies to produce high-quality designs.

Here I’m publishing the details about all of the four course projects and my design deliverables:

Project #1 – The Problem With Lunch – Final Deliverable

The Prompt:

Every day for five days, go to a different eatery on and off campus during the height of the lunch rush. You do not have to eat there, but you do need to note (in your sketchbook) the flow of people and any problem areas or areas of opportunity.

Skills involved:

  • Observation: Observations are diverse, take a point of view, and are captured effectively in sketches.
  • Synthesis: Problem statement synthesizes the observations into a novel point of view.
  • Ideation: Micro ideas, index card ideas, and final detail idea are clearly communicated and effectively address the problem statement.

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Project #2 – Change Is Hard – Deliverable

The Prompt:

Design a system that helps people achieve the behavior change goal. How do you intercede with the user’s motivation, ability, and trigger (http://www.behaviormodel.org/)?

Part 1: Research the Opportunity Space: form a team, pick a behavior design goal, and launch a diary study.

Part 2: Model the System: synthesize the results of the study into a journey map and plan out the flow of a design informed by the results.

Part 3: Specify the Interaction: refine this flow into a prototype that you can test

Part 4: Field Study: perform a field study of the prototype

Skills involved:

  • User ResearchDiary study uncovers nontrivial insights about the habit.

  • Flow and Interaction DesignDesign represents creative, effective intervention on the habit.

  • Field Study: Field study uncovers nontrivial insights about the design the habit.

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Project #3 – Redesigning Alma – Deliverable

The Prompt:

It is a rare and lucky designer who gets to start a design from scratch. In this project, we’ll take a current application and use visual design and insights from testing to make it better. “Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien” – Voltaire.

Part 1: Evaluate:  Do usability testing on our project and two competitors. What is wrong with the current system? Is there a better way to do the job they are setting out to do? Bonus: interview the creators.

Part 2: Ideate: Come up with multiple “hypotheses” about better designs, including a Dark Horse: an idea so crazy no one thinks it will work.

Part 3: Iterate:  Use heuristics and critique to bring this final design to an exquisite perfect. Or at least make it pretty darn good. First, you’ll make a medium fidelity prototype, using software such as InVision or Marvel. Add your new brand look and feel to this prototype! Then run another usability test with 5-8 people to make sure you’ve improved things. See RITE method to quickly evolve our leading contenders.

Part 4: Elevate: Take a polish pass to make sure the new version is as beautiful as it is usable.

Skills involved:

  • User ResearchUsability Study & RITE uncovers nontrivial insights and leads to significant improvement.

  • Create Solutions: Design represents a creative, effective resolution of problems.

  • Execution: Design has high polish: easy to use and easy on the eyes.

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Project #4 – Planning A Vacation (Final Design Challenge) – Deliverable

The Prompt:

We are expecting that the design challenge should take you 4-6 hours and you will go through at least one full cycle of the design thinking process. The main skill being tested in this final is your ability to reason through the large set of methods and skills you have acquired in the course thus far, and apply them in the correct circumstances and for the correct goals. Not every method is appropriate for the type of problem you are solving or the data you have gathered. This is a test of how you make decisions about which approaches to apply and your ability to motivate them.

Skills involved:

  • PlanningPlan is a strong, comprehensive approach to solving the selected design challenge.

  • Decision-making: Decisions and selected processes are effective, appropriate and thoughtfully selected with strong understanding of what is being done at each step and why.

  • Design process execution & Documentation: Design deliverables are exemplary. Every artifact shared shows a deep understanding of the goal. Report is thorough and does very effective job in clearly communicating what was done and why.

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