6.813/6.831 — User Interface Design & Implementation
Spring 2018

PS1: UI Hall of Fame and Shame

Due at 11:59 pm on Wednesday, February 14, 2018, by uploading to LMods.
You must complete the self-assessment form before you hand in the assignment.

Help populate the UI Hall of Fame and Shame! Find two examples of user interfaces, one that you consider a good design and one that you consider a bad design.  Note that the good design does not have to be uniformly good, since you may discover problems with it on closer inspection.  Likewise, the bad design does not have to be uniformly bad.  Probably the most interesting examples will be mixed.

Your interfaces might be desktop software, web applications, smartphone apps, consumer devices, car dashboards, building entrances, traffic intersections, shower controls, etc.

For each interface, you should:

  • describe the purpose of the interface and its intended users
  • analyze its good and bad points of usability with reference to all three dimensions of usability discussed in lecture:
    • learnability
    • efficiency
    • safety
    • you may discuss other aspects of usability if you have space and consider them important
  • illustrate your analysis with appropriate screenshots or photographs

You are limited to half a page of text (250 words) for each interface, for a total of 1 page of text (500 words) for your entire report.  This is a hard limit. You can include as many images as are helpful; they don't count toward the word limit.

Write your report with the following goals in mind:

  • Completeness.  Don't omit a dimension of usability, and don't overlook an obvious usability issue that even the reader notices.
  • Thoughtful Analysis.  "Efficiency is good, because it feels fast to use" is not a thoughtful analysis.  "I've never made any errors with it" is not deep analysis.
  • Clarity.  The reader should not struggle to understand what you're talking about.
  • Conciseness.  This is technical writing.  Unnecessary verbosity will be judged severely.
  • Usability of presentation.  Your report is itself a user interface whose purpose is to convey ideas to a reader. If your report isn't efficient to read then it will be harder for the reader to use, and it will not demonstrate an ability to apply the ideas of this class. Make judicious use of headers, short paragraphs, topic sentences, bullets for lists, boldface (where appropriate), captions, labeled image parts (not simply a big blob of text + big unlabeled image), numbered figure captions, and other devices that make reading easier.

What to Hand In

You must complete the self-assessment form before you hand in the assignment.

Use LMOD to hand in your report as a single PDF file. If your word processor can't generate PDF, there is free software for printing documents out to PDF.

Include a list of the people you discussed this assignment with, or explicitly say that you discussed the assignment with nobody. (you can put this at the top of your report). This is an individual assignment, so be aware of the course's collaboration policy.