6.813/6.831 — User Interface Design & Implementation
Spring 2018

GR2: Designs

Presentation & draft report due in studio on Friday, March 9, 2018.
Final report and self-assessment (one per group member) due 11:59 pm on Sunday, March 11, 2018.
You must complete your individual self-assessment forms before you hand in the assignment.

In this group assignment, you will start designing your term project. Your project may have changed direction slightly from GR1 after feedback from studio and your TA. Make sure you update your GR1 write-up to be consistent with your GR2 submission.


Scenario. Write a scenario that involves the tasks you identified in GR1. A scenario is a concrete, realistic story that sets up a situation involving a user with a goal to satisfy, and then follows the user through the tasks they do to satisfy that goal. While your task descriptions were abstract (e.g. "Buy a subway ticket"), your scenario should be concrete, complete with imaginary users and imaginary details (e.g. "Frodo is going to the Red Sox game with 3 of his friends. He needs to buy a ticket, but the T station is packed with commuters and other Red Sox fans...").

Design sketches. As an individual, each member of your group should generate three different preliminary designs for your user interface. Each design should be represented by one or more sketches, and accompanied by an explanation in a few sentences. These do not need to be fully fleshed out, but should reflect the insights gained from writing the scenario.

We want you to stretch your design thinking. So at least one of each individual's three designs should be extreme in one of the following ways:

  • ultra-efficient
  • ultra-safe (preventing all errors)
  • for illiterate users
  • for blind users
  • for a non-computer, non-phone interface
  • for a tiny screen (smaller than a standard smartphone screen - e.g., a watch)
  • for children
  • for the elderly
  • for use while driving

Storyboard designs. As a group, synthesize your individual design ideas to generate three different proposed designs for your user interface. These designs should synthesize the best parts of the individual designs. Explain each design and include a storyboard showing how it works for your scenario. The storyboard should combine words with sketches showing how the interface appears over the course of the scenario, and should include (at the end) an analysis of the design's good and bad points for learnability, efficiency, and safety.


Google Doc Project Report. Under the section "GR2 Design" add the following sections:

  • Scenario
  • Individual design sketches
  • Group designs, consisting of storyboards and analyses
  • Studio Reflection: Describe the feedback you got in your studio sessions, and how you will incorporate it into your project.

Studio presentation. You must prepare a Google Slides slideshow to present this work in studio. Send the link to your mentor by 12pm (noon) on Friday. Each member of the team should participate in the presentation. Take notes during the discussion of your presentation and put the important ones in your report. Use your 4 minutes well: restate your latest problem statement, describe your scenario, and show one or more of your storyboard designs. The more you present, the more useful feedback you will get on possible features or usability issues of your sketched designs. You can find example slides here and here.

Self-assessment form. Remember to complete your individual self-assessment forms in advance of the deadline. The checklist is very similar to the TAs' grading rubric, and is intended to help you make sure your submission is complete and on target.

As usual, we will grade the version that exists at the moment of the deadline.


Your designs will be judged on how well you've described them, how well you analyze them, and how diverse they are. Three group designs that differ only in small ways will not receive much credit. Individual designs that fail to show stretch will not receive much credit.

Take time to brainstorm on a variety of different interface designs, sketching them by hand on paper or a whiteboard. You should play with many more than the required designs, but we only require you to record a subset of them in your report.

When you draw your sketches, don't get bogged down in details like wording, graphical appearance, or layout. Keep things simple. Focus on the conceptual model you're trying to communicate to the user, and think about your task analysis: what the user needs to do and how they can do it. Putting too much time into designing low-level details is pointless if big things have to change on the next design iteration.

Hand-drawn sketches are preferred. There are a number of ways to get hand-drawn sketches into your report. You can draw on paper and use a scanner to convert it to electronic form. There are great scanners in Barker and Hayden libraries. Make sure your sketches are readable, and crop them and size them appropriately so that your report presentation has good usability. Sketches may be annotated on a computer.