Individual Design Exercise, Part 1

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Due: by 11:59pm on Friday, Jan 24


The goal of this two-part assignment is to introduce you to iterative design. That way, during the main course project, the steps of the design process will be more familiar. You will observe and interview users, brainstorm, prototype, and get feedback..


Mobile phones offer users access to communication and computation while users are, well, mobile. Or so goes the theory. In practice, there are significant challenges to interacting with your phone while you are in motion - e.g., walking, bicycling, or driving. Modern touch screen interfaces require undivided attention and hand-eye coordination that may make them difficult to use in truly mobile contexts.

Your task in Part 1 of this assignment is to learn about the difficulties that people face while using mobile applications on the go, to document your findings.

In Part 2, for next week, you will then brainstorm ideas to overcome those difficulties, redesign one particular application; and you will evaluate your design by obtaining feedback from potential target users.


Observing and interviewing people helps designers learn more about users' needs, goals, desires, abilities, values, and situations. Talk to at least 2 people who are not college students about their experiences and difficulties trying to use mobile phones while walking,bicycling,driving,skiing, or otherwise moving. Don't just extrapolate from your own perspective or that of your friends and peers! Designers often have to design for people who are different from them - therefore you must not use college students as your interviewees. And don't pick random people, either. First spend some time thinking about different users who are likely to have used their phone on the go because of their job, hobby, etc.

Then briefly write up what you learned and provide documentation who you have talked to. This will include describing who you talked to without mentioning names (e.g., "45-year old line cook at a restaurant in Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto"), and providing a summary of the lessons learned from each individual interview. If there are common patterns that emerge across interviews, make sure you describe these as well - such commonalities are excellent opportunities for redesign.

You must upload at least two photos that shows you and your interviewees together to demonstrate that you interviewed people who are not college students. You will have to ask permission to take this photo - not everyone may grant you this permission (as is their prerogative). For this assignment, please resize your images so they are no larger than 100kB each before uploading (an image size of 640x480px is sufficient for this assignment).

Next week, you will then use the insights from your observation to inform your design. One essential part of a designer's role is to frame the problem. There are many different perspectives you might take to change an existing situation for the better with your design. You will use the observation material to inform who you will design for (the UPS driver? the harried commuter on the way to the office? the athlete bicyclist?) and how you will improve their lives.

Grading Criteria

  • Did you talk to at least two target users who are not college students? (4pts)
  • Did you upload photos that document your interviews? (3pts)
  • Did you succinctly and clearly describe what you learned from your conversations? (3pts)

Submission instructions

Create a Wiki Page for this assignment

Begin by creating a new wiki page for this assignment. Go to your user page - you can get to it by clicking on your name in the top right of the site window after logging in. This page will be empty - so add a couple of sentences about yourself first.

Then edit your user page to add a link to a new wiki page for this assignment. The wiki syntax should look like this:

[[DesignAssignment1-FirstName_LastName|Design Assignment Part 1]]

Again replace FirstName and LastName with your name. Look at my user page for an example. Then click on the link and enter the information about your assignment.

Uploading Images

To upload images to the wiki, first create a link for the image of the form [[File:image_name.jpg]] (replacing image_name.jpg with a unique image name for use by the server). This will create a link you can follow that will then allow you to upload the image. Alternatively, you can use the "Upload file" link in the toolbox to upload the image first, and then subsequently create a link to it on your wiki page. To restrict how large an image is rendered, you can add an argument: [[File:image_name.jpg|500px]].

Add Link to Your Finished Assignment

One you are finished editing the page, add a link to it at the bottom of the page with your full name as the link text. The wiki syntax will look like this: *[[DesignAssignment1-FirstName_LastName|FirstName LastName]]. Hit the edit button for the last section to see how I created the link for my name.

Links to Finished Assignments

Add your submission below this line: