CS 305: Activity Design


Highlights of this lab:

  • What is Activity Design
  • Metaphor Analysis
  • Activity Scenarios
  • Assignment (In your groups)

:: What is Activity Design ::

Last week, and the week before, we looked at designing and developing problem scenarios, stories that explain issues with current software. These stories were written from the perspective of some of the possible stakeholders, more specifically, those stakeholders being end-users, of having direct interactions with the software/interface.

This week we will build on the ideas fleshed out from last week to start thinking of new designs for each of your individual group tasks. Specifically, we will look at designing new activities, those that will try and address the issues made visible in our requirements analysis phase.

Activity design is the first step in developing new ideas, i.e. "the first phase of design reasoning, in which the problems and opportunities of current practice are transformed into new ways of behaving" (Rosson and Carroll, 2002). It attempts to address system functionality, how the system functions, why the system functions as it does, what does the system provide (on the interface) that makes performing tasks easier, more efficicent, and yes, more satisfying.

For example, when thinking about an online shopping system, system functionality should provide: product information, searching capabilities, ordering and purchasing capabilities, all in a secure environment. The user interface should make these tasks seem as efficient as possible by seamlessly integrating icons, links, menus, fields, feedback on the interface...making the task as clear and easily obtainable as possible. See Pg. 80 of your text for a very good diagram.

Effective vs. Comprehensible vs. Satisfying Activities

Designing effective activities is sometimes not enough. Any interface, if it addresses the needs of a given task, could be considered an effective activity. Thus, we must also look at designing comprehensible activities, i.e. when using the system, the users should be able to see the possbilities of the software in how to complete the task (e.g. again, when considering the online shopping system, use of a shopping cart, or checkout lane could be used....these are easily mapped to the users mental model of the task.). Again, this is not enough. Th goal in HCI, and your goal this term, is to design satisfying activities, those that are considered to be the best for the given task.


:: Metaphor Analysis ::

Visualizing metaphors enables us clearly see how certain activities should function. For example, if the activity is to store elements for which we wish to purchase at the end of our session, a real-world metaphor could be a shopping cart. The implications would be a place to store items of purchases, the items would remain in the cart until personally removed, after the transaction, the cart is empty (well...may not be true as in a brick n' mortar store, you would sometimes place your filled bags back in your cart, etc...

In terms of your projects, let us consider these:


:: Activity Scenarios ::

Activity scenarios build on the problem scenarios and problem scenarios claims analysis. Specifically, using the claims analysis from the problem scenario, we look at the features that could use improving and try to discuss a new approach using new ideas/technology. We do this by developing another scenario, that follows the problem scenario but introduces the new technology and ideas that we think would make the task easier, more comprehensible, and yes, more satisfying. Although we are trying our best to define new ideas and introduce new technology, the new may impact other aspects of the design. Thus, there may be pros and cons of the new apporach(es).


:: Group Assignment ::

Last week we looked at a developing a specific overview of the requirements analysis for your individual group project tasks. This week we are going to delve further into your project by building on the problem scenarios and developing activity scenarios

For this weeks assignment, I would like you to complete a metaphor analysis, create activity scenarios related to your group's task, and also complete a claims analysis This is to be a group assignment, but everyone should submit something on web-ct (it should be the same document). .

This assignment is worth 2% and is due before your next lab. We will be using this assignment as part of your next lab. Please submit your assignment on web-ct before the start of your next lab.


:: References ::