CM3116: Design Thinking and Prototyping for User Experience

School Cardiff School of Computer Science and Informatics
Department Code COMSC
Module Code CM3116
External Subject Code 100366
Number of Credits 20
Level L6
Language of Delivery English
Module Leader Dr Parisa Eslambolchilar
Semester Autumn Semester
Academic Year 2021/2

Outline Description of Module

This module aims to provide the students with in-depth and hands-on understanding of user experience (UX) design in the context of software (from apps to large software), device platforms (from smartphones to ubiquitous computing and robots), and a wide range of interaction modalities (e.g., input and output), from voice and audio to gesture and tactile. The module will help to understand users and their needs better, and ethical, fair, accessible, sustainable, inclusive, usable, and effective user designs and theories. Additionally, students will learn what user experience is about and how to design and develop digital tools that offer fulfilling user experiences. Moreover, students will learn about the number of factors that influence user experience; the theories that underlie good interaction design; and the methods and techniques designers use to create effective interactive products.

How the module will be delivered

  1. Understand UX design theories and their context of use.
  2. Gather user requirements and validate them in the context of use.
  3. Understand and apply design thinking approach.
  4. Understand and apply visual, audio, and/or tactile modalities in designing prototypes.
  5. Conduct evaluation studies and collect, analyse and validate data from the studies and report them in a systematic and scientific manner.

Skills that will be practised and developed

The module will adopt Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) for individual learning. The students will learn to work effectively in teams, communicate complex concepts clearly and scientifically, think critically, manage their time in working towards deadlines efficiently, etc. In addition, students will develop a rigorous foundation of knowledge and critical analysis skills that enable them to understand contemporary issues in studying users, designing user studies, and design and development for /with users. They will be able to contribute to debates on these matters individually and or in groups.

Students will be introduced to the fundamental skills required to create user interfaces using modern prototyping tools (e.g., Invision, sketch, adobe, Azure, Balsamiq, Protopie.io). Additionally, students will learn prototyping and statical analyses skills, and the state of the art from speakers invited from industry.

Students will be able to work with users and follow design thinking process. They will practice skills such as interviews, focus groups, running workshops with users. These will be beneficial for their future employments in this sector.

Last but not the least, the students will learn transferrable skills such as reading the literature, scientific writing, listening, recording and note taking, communicating effectively with lay people and with scientific community.

In summary, the module will allow students to create a portfolio of UX skills for industry and or research applications (e.g., MRes, MPhil, PhD).

How the module will be assessed

Assessments will be comprised of a mix of continuous individual and group work where students will be required to present through a combination of oral presentations, formal reports, and creating prototype demonstrations. This will enable students to develop broader professional skills required in industry and academic environments i.e., via linking to Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA), the students will learn to work effectively in teams, communicate complex concepts clearly and scientifically, think critically, manage their time in working towards deadlines efficiently, etc. In addition, students will learn to develop their design thinking in practice (more information is provided under Skills section below). The assessment for this course aligns with industry design brief (informed by our collaboration with industry and research group). The formal assessment will be focused on enabling students to develop tangible outcomes at the end of the module (that can be placed in a portfolio of work). This is an essential focus of the course as a professional online portfolio of work is crucial in the UX field for improving the likelihood of securing employment within the sector 12. Support will be provided throughout the course (via hands-on workshops and one-to-one personal tutoring) to assist students in building a personalised online body of work that emphasises their strengths, interests, and specialism within the field.

The portfolio will include activities in the following stages:

Stage 1 (weeks 1 and 2): ‘Discovery', in this stage, students will explore the problem domain and break it down into manageable pieces which their project (inspired by the literature) will address. Students are expected to specify and justify target group/population (e.g., fall in elderly population), why the problem is important to address now, potential solutions to tackle the problem (based on the state of the art and review of the literature).

Stage 2 (weeks 3 and 4): ‘Requirement gathering’, in this stage, students will work on the research integrity and ethics process, how to write an ethics application, what to submit to the ethics committee and why, how to recruit participants, how to design questionnaire / surveys, how to conduct face to face (or online) interviews, how to conduct focus groups, how to gather user requirements via well-justified and appropriate means and validate them.

Stage 3 (weeks 5 and 6): 'Conducting User Studies’, in this stage, students will collect some data on the problem after their ethical approval is received. Students may perform a pilot study, heuristic evaluation on existing solutions for usability, or an initial survey.

Stage 4 (weeks 6, 7 and 8): 'Design’, in this stage, students will specify a solution for a well-defined problem in stage 1. For example, students may wish to build a low-fidelity prototype that detects when a fall has occurred. Sketching, wireframing and other prototyping methods are expected.

Stage 5 (weeks 9 and 10): 'Evaluation and Reporting', in this stage students will evaluate their solutions. Students are expected to confirm the initial objectives being met.

At each stage, students must report their work in their individual portfolio (if they prefer their portfolio could be online (e.g., github, YouTube, Miro boards, etc.). The template for the portfolio will be specified by the the module leader at the start of the course. Formative feedback on the portfolios will be provided at each stage by mentors and or module leaders. Additionally, at stage 3 students will peer-review each other’s work for the next stage e.g., marking the questionnaires and surveys based on the given criteria. Moreover, at stage 4 students will present their ideas in a 4-minute madness session and receive comments from their peers.

Students will be provided with reassessment opportunities in line with University regulations. The re-assessment will be individual based assessment on a small-scale and well-defined problem following five stages above. The re-assessment will be given two months to complete.

Assessment Breakdown

Type % Title Duration(hrs)
Portfolio 100 Design Thinking Portfolio And Report N/A

Syllabus content

Week 1: User experience design: why UX is important, real examples based on societal issues and the role the technology can play in addressing them, UX portfolios and collecting data/evidence for UX portfolios. Week 2: Literature review and reflective writing: how to find peer-reviewed papers, how to read them (through reading groups or individually), how to reflect on the outcomes of the research articles, how to write an HCI paper. Week 3-4: User requirement gathering and validation (interaction with users): research integrity and ethics process in the School, and for publications, how to write an ethics application, what to submit to the ethics committee and why, how to recruit participants, how to design questionnaire / surveys, how to conduct face to face (or online) interviews, how to conduct focus groups (number of users is more than one).
Week 5: Data Analyses and Reporting: how to conduct and perform qualitative data analyses and what they mean (reflection on the outcome of the process), how to write down qualitative analyses scientifically, writing for clients with design recommendations Week 6-7: Iterative design (design thinking approach): why things go wrong when studying people, how to address issues in the design (outcome: one design is never enough, things can and will go wrong). Sketching, wireframing, prototyping (lo-fi, high-fi), designing probes and, design fictions. Week 8: Visual design, analytics, and other interaction modalities: hands-on experience with Gestalt, information hierarchy on the page, design patterns, presenting data (analytics) and modalities such as audio, touch. Extending the knowledge to sustainable, accessible & inclusive design. Week 9: User evaluation studies: Different types of evaluation techniques, exploring pros and cons of different user studies to evaluate the designed prototypes Week 10: Measuring UX KPIs and Usability: how to measure behavioural UX KPIs (e.g., measure error, time, performance) in the evaluation studies with users (week 9), how to conduct statistical analyses, how to reflect on the statistical analysis's outcomes, how to write down statistical analyses scientifically. The measurements include quantitative and qualitative data.


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