Individual Project Proposal

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Due: before class on January 27, 2010

20 Points - Project



Your assignment is to propose an idea that could form the basis of a course project for this semester. Your design should be based on consideration of a real group of users and their needs. This is an individual assignment and you should not discuss it with others in the course. We will be considering originality of the idea in grading this assignment. You will have a chance to do a group brainstorm a little later.

Project Requirements

The theme for this semester is mobile applications for the Apple iPhone or iPod Touch. This is a very open theme and should give you plenty of room to come up with a topic that is personally exciting to you.

Try to think out of the box. Don't think in a device-centered way, and don't think only of things that a smartphone can do. Instead focus on the things that people do everyday while they have an iPhone or iPod Touch in their pocket. That will also give you a good handle on the set of target users. Or you could start with a set of target users and think of a theme that might improve their lives. Talk to some potential users to figure out what might motivate them.

Don’t be too ambitious. You have limited time to work on the project and the goal of the course is to iterate, test and improve users’ experience of your design, not to produce the most elaborate experience. In any case, some of the most successful apps have been extremely simple. Make sure you’re realistic about what can be done in a semester. This is an exercise in prototyping apps that could really be built, not in science fiction. Brainstorm! Your initial idea might be lame-looking, but a refinement of it might be a killer. Give every idea a chance, no matter how strange at first.

Writing Guidelines

You will submit a project plan including both text and sketches (the proposal should be at most 4 typewritten pages in length). Your plan should follow the outline below and will be graded using the writing guidelines that follow:

Creativity (5 pts)

The proposal should address a real user need. This need could be work related, but it could also cover health, lifestyle, or recreational needs. We will give extra points for new ideas that are not already being developed by other companies and groups. You should do a web search before submitting your idea. Make sure you include URLs for any project you find on the web that you think is related (even if it not exactly the same) as your proposed idea.

Writing (3 pts)

The writing must clearly present the important facts and be terse and concise. The nitty-gritty details aren’t needed at this point. The organization should follow the outline, and it’s encouraged (but not necessary) to use the outline bullets as section headings.


Target User Group (3 pts)

Your target user group should be sensible (people you have access to) and not trivial (CS undergrads is not a challenge). Describe the user group in enough detail that you can easily separate the group from other types of people. Then include details about their needs and wants.

Problem Description (3 pts)

The problem description should be short and specific about the high-level goals of the project. The problem should be described in terms of user activities and situations where the problem occurs, and what aspects of the situation might be improved with a technical solution. Avoid describing or suggesting a solution at this stage that will hamper your design thinking when you actually start solving the problem.

Problem Context and Forces (3 pts)

The analysis section should give more background for the problem. What aspects of the situation might influence the problem solution? Think about location, time, environmental factors etc. Then think about aspects of the user group, their education, available time, motivation, values etc. What related or complementary solutions exist already?

Solution Sketch (3 pts)

Give a very brief sketch (outline) of the kind of solution(s) you are considering. Since your problem has barely been specified and you haven’t done any user interviews, you probably don’t have enough information to make many design choices. So your solution sketch should be very general. This is an excellent place to make use of real sketches (drawings) as well as text.

Solution Examples

Here are some examples from students who took CS160 in Fall 2009:


Hand in Printout in Class

Print your assignment and hand it in at the beginning of class on January 27.

Creating a Wiki Page for this assignment

Begin by creating a new wiki page for this assignment. Go to your user page that you created when you made your account. You can get to it by typing the following URL into your browser:

Replace FirstName and LastName with your real first and last names. This will take you to the page you created for yourself when you created your wiki account. If you have trouble accessing this page, please check that you created your wiki account properly.

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

[[ProjectProposal-FirstNameLastName|Project Proposal]]

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. Be sure to clearly address everything mentioned in the writing guidelines above.

Uploading Images

To upload images to the wiki, first create a link for the image of the form [[Image: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.

Add Link to Your Finished Assignment

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

Raymond Lee - Jan 27, 2010 12:13:36 am

This is a bit late but I'd like to share with everyone the tool I used to create my solution sketch:

Hope it helps someone out!

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