Assignment 1: User Research
DUE Thurs, Oct 17 at 11:59pm
This first team assignment forms the basis for your project, so you will be turning in some parts earlier during class times. This is necessary so your TA can give you feedback in class to make sure your project is on track. Here is the timeline:
What to turn in
You can work on your assignment draft in whatever format you like (e.g., Google Docs is useful for collaborating). You will be turning in your final assignment in Figma using the A1 template we've set up for you. See this playlist for Figma tutorial videos.
First, include the names and PIDs of all team members, or else those missing team members will get 0 points for this assignment.
Here is how we will grade this assignment, out of 10 total points:
(Note that APS counts for 30% of your grade because we want you to make something that will impress potential employers.)
Do not edit your Figma project after the due date or else it will be marked late and we cannot give you credit because of our no-late policy. If you want to make adjustments after the deadline, make a copy and edit that copy.
Details about each component
(See the relevant lectures for more details and examples.)
This section should provide the relevant background for your project. It should address questions such as:
Write your background section so that it tells your project's story in a compelling way. In other words, don't just answer all these questions verbatim in bullet points. Tell a good story that you can pitch convincingly to an employer. Remember APS!
[Note that a draft of this part is due on Wednesday, Oct 9]
You will perform research to discover problems and needs that users in your target population have. You will get some time in class to perform user research on your classmates, but you should also plan to find participants on your own outside of class.
This section should describe how you conducted your research. Specifically, it should address:
A common question here is: How many participants are enough? or How much data is enough? (for data science). See lecture slides for details.
You will spend most of your time during this assignment actually conducting user research. This takes significant amounts of time, so you simply can't wait until the last minute. If you do a rushed last-minute job, you'll probably get zero points for APS.
Here are some tips for conducting your research:
Now write up your research findings. You can organize this in whatever way tells the best story. It should include components such as the following (not everything may apply to your project):
Your findings can take several forms. Here are some common kinds of findings:
Most importantly, don't suggest any solutions yet. The findings of user research include problems and opportunities. You will begin thinking about solutions in Assignment 2.
[Note that a draft of this part is due on Wednesday, Oct 16]
After you've finished writing up your research findings, you're ready for the all-important Problem Statement. This statement is so important that we make it due in class on Wednesday, Oct 16 so that your TA can give you feedback before you finalize it.
Here is a good definition (slightly reworded):
A problem statement is used to summarize who a particular user is, the user's need, and why the need is important to that user.
The Problem Statement takes what you've learned from user research and captures the exact problem that your project aims to solve and why it matters. It's one of the most important parts that employers read in your entire case study. Your problem statement should be one or two sentences. Refer to relevant lectures for how to write it. In general, it should ...
You can write your problem statement in many formats. If you want some guidance, this article proposes a three-part format:
Traditional problem statements have 3 components: 1) a user, 2) a need, and 3) a goal. These are then combined following the pattern: [A user] needs [need] in order to accomplish [goal]. The [user] should correspond to a specific persona or real end-user segment you've done research on. The [need] should be real, should belong to users, should not be made up by the team, and should not be phrased as a solution. The [goal] is the result of meeting that need. It should be rooted in empathy. Look beyond the obvious – what will this solution allow the user to accomplish? For example, think about the user's hopes, fears, and motivations.
Conversely, here are some properties of bad problem statements:
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can we see examples of user research write-ups?
A: Look at the relevant lecture slides. But be aware that not all examples contain all of the components that we're looking for in this assignment.
Q: Is there an exact format or template that we should follow in the write-up?
A: We provided suggestions in lecture, but as you can see from some example case studies, everyone uses a slightly different format. Just think about what tells a good story to potential employers, and keep APS in mind.
Q: How come some of the examples we saw in lecture didn't have all the requirements for this assignment?
A: Because they weren't from this class. You can use lecture examples as inspiration, but make sure to meet the requirements of this assignment.
Q: For user research, How many participants are enough? or How much data is enough? (for data science).
A: See lecture slides for details.