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Assignment 1 Task-Centered Design and Prototyping

Assignment 1

Task-Centered Design and Prototyping

Weight: 25% of your final grade

Due: after Unit 3 in Week 9

This assignment is designed to develop your ability to perform comprehensive task-centered design  and prototyping. You will begin your iterative design of a particular system of your choice using task centered system design and low-fidelity prototyping methods. The goal is to give you experience at

• identifying and developing suitable task descriptions for a domain of interest. • moving from the developed task descriptions towards the important system requirements.

• brainstorming and formulating the pros and cons of different design alternatives through the use of low-fidelity prototypes.

• evaluating the low-fidelity prototypes using task-centered walkthroughs.

Before starting, do the required readings to familiarize yourself with the tasks that you need to perform.

Required Readings

1. Greenberg, S. (2003). Working through task-centered system design. In Diaper, D., & Stanton, N. (Eds). The handbook of task analysis for human-computer interaction. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Retrieved from


This manuscript will provide you with the required knowledge to complete this assignment. It also includes an example of a hypothetical “Cheap Shop,” which is used to explain how task centered design and prototyping is actually performed.

2. Curtis, G., & Vertelney, L. (1990). Storyboards and sketch prototypes for rapid interface visualization. [Tutorial presented at the ACM CHI 90 Human Factors in Computing Systems Conference, Seattle, Washington, 1990.] Retrieved from


3. Chapter 7 of Interaction Design

4. Chapter 8 of Interaction Design


You will deliver a system design and discussion portfolio written to the imaginary vice president of your company. This assignment does not specify which target domain you need to design for and provides you with the flexibility to choose the target application of interest to you. The system that you select could be as simple as the Cheap Shop explained in the first required reading or as complex as a full-fledged customer relationship management software suite. The only restriction is

that the system should be complex enough to include at least five to seven identifiable, concrete tasks. Make sure that you are able to later implement the system you choose for Assignment 3.

The report that you provide will include the following sections:

Section 1: Tasks and Requirements

Length: about 10 pages (~2500 words) in Times New Roman 12-point font

Weight: 50% of the assignment mark evenly distributed among the four parts of Section 1

1. Introduction. Include a full description of the items below:

• Background

• Expected types of users of the system

• Work contexts—a description the work setting

• What the system will be used for

• System constraints

2. Concrete task examples. You will list at least five to seven concrete task examples. The task  descriptions should follow the structure of the example provided on page 9 of the first reference  introduced above, Working through Task-Centered System Design (Greenberg, 2003).

3. Tentative list of requirements. From the task examples, extract the major system requirements and prioritize them by a) absolutely must include, b) should include, c) could  include, and d) exclude. Each category should be accompanied by a discussion of why items  were placed in that category.

4. A concluding recommendation. This will include your recommendation to the vice president on how to proceed with the development of the product and also your perception of the major barriers you anticipate in the development process.

Section 2: First Prototype and Walkthrough

Length: an annotated design + about 5 pages (~1250 words) in Times New Roman 12-point font Weight: 50% of the assignment mark evenly distributed between the two parts of Section 2

1. Prototype (storyboard or sketch). Develop several low-fidelity prototypes of designs that you  believe will satisfy the major requirements (at least one for each requirement).

2. Walkthrough. For each of these prototype designs, use the tasks from Section 1 to perform a  task-centered walkthrough of your prototypes. Based on the walkthroughs, identify the  problems and successes for each task in that prototype. In essay form, summarize the major design problems that must be corrected, as well as what seems to work well. This will need to be based on the structure of the example provided on page 10 of Working through Task Centered System Design (Greenberg, 2003).


Step 1. Generate a list of expected users and an initial list of tasks. In this step, you interview knowledgeable people about their real-world tasks and observe them doing those tasks. Your goal is to generate an initial list of concrete task descriptions. If you do not have  access to the appropriate people to interview for the application that you have selected, you will need to hypothesize about the possible users of the system and their initial list of  tasks.

Step 2. Validate the tasks. The next step is to get a reality check of your task list. Have end users  and/or client representatives review your tasks. You want them to tell you if the set of  people is representative of potential end users of your product, if the tasks capture the  variations of those done by real people, and if the details are realistic. As for step 1, if you  do not have access to real end users, you will need to share the list of tasks that you have  developed with a friend or colleague along with the description of the system. That person

will then provide you with feedback on what she thinks is missing or unaligned with her opinion. Revise your work until you reach a satisfactory task list.

Step 3. Decide upon key users and a tentative list of requirements. The task examples will  provide clues to specific system requirements that you need to include in your system  design as well as who your target users will be. Because it is unrealistic to meet all  requirements and address all users, it is your job to prioritize them and justify your decision  with a clear rationale of why some requirements have higher priority than others.

Step 4. Develop low-fidelity prototypes. From the task examples and requirements, sketch  out several competing interfaces. Discuss and choose the most promising of these, and develop a horizontal low-fidelity prototype (using storyboards or sketch methodology). Detailed information on how to develop storyboards or sketch  prototypes is provided in the second required reading, Storyboards and Sketch  Prototypes for Rapid Interface Visualization (Curtis & Vertelney, 1990).

Step 5. Perform a task-centered walkthrough. Evaluate your prototype for usability bugs by performing a task-centered walkthrough.

Step 6. Summarize and develop the report. Summarize all of the experience that you have gained  in developing the prototypes in a two-part report, one for each section as explained above  under the Deliverables heading.

Assignment 3

System Implementation and Evaluation

Weight: 20% of your final grade

Due: after Unit 6 in Week 17

In this assignment, you will implement the low-fidelity prototype system that you designed in  Assignment 1.

You should use either C++ or Java as the programming language. The use of  other programming languages/tools requires tutor permission.

The main purpose is to give you experience in applying some of the design concepts you have learned from the course content in actual implementation, and to give you experience in developing a moderately sized and robust user interface.

Required Reading

Your evaluation should be based on a heuristic evaluation of user interfaces. In order to fully understand this approach and how to perform the evaluation as expected, you will need to read this paper:

Nielsen, J., & Molich, R. (1990). Heuristic evaluation of user interfaces. In J. C. Chew & J. Whiteside (Eds.), Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing  Systems: Empowering People. New York: ACM. doi:10.1145/97243.97281. Retrieved from https://0-doi-org.aupac.lib.athabascau.ca/10.1145/97243.97281

The actual prototype implementation should include and demonstrate how the following are addressed in your design: screens, error messages, handling of unexpected input, defaults, robustness, and others. The main aim of the prototype is to show that how the interface is designed and how it conforms to the main HCI design principles and guidelines; therefore, it is fine if you use dummy functionality stubs in your implementation instead of the actual functionality.

Once the prototype implementation is completed, you will need to evaluate it. You can do this by providing argumentation on how well your design follows standard HCI design principles. This should highlight the pros and cons of your design, and include recommendations for possible changes in the future.


1. Final report.

Weight: 20% of assignment mark

Length: ~10 pages (~2500 words) in Times New Roman 12-point font

Your final report should include the following information:

• Illustrations of your final implementation, using new screenshots

• The results of the evaluation of your design:

o List the problems detected, categorized by heuristics. Include a severity rating of the problems noted.

o Summarize the main findings of your heuristic evaluation.

• Final design rationale and discussion of the state of your design. Discuss the quality of your system design. What parts of the design work well, and what still needs improvement? Do you really believe that the system would work well for your identified users and tasks?

2. A zip file containing the complete implementation of your project.

Weight: 40% of assignment mark

This must include a README file containing any special instructions for using the system (e.g., login names / passwords / things to input as data as part of the interface and installation guides). The zip file should also contain all of the source code and the required additional packages that have been used. The interface must be reproducible by your tutor.

3. Video.

Weight: 40% of assignment mark

Length: ~10 minutes

In addition to the written report and the zip file, you will need to prepare a 10-min-long video presentation on your system and upload it to YouTube. The link to this video will need to be included at the end of the written report and submitted to the course tutor for marking. The video presentation will need to include the following information:

• the project scope and purpose of design

• the main tasks that are covered in the interface

• description of how walkthroughs were performed

• details of how different low-fidelity prototypes were developed and evaluated • brief overview of the implementation technologies used

• discussion on the design rationale of your interface

• screenshots of your designed interface

You can use CamStudio (https://camstudio.org/) for this purpose.

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