Graduate Projects: Human Computer Interaction

Below are some of Alex's HCI classes and projects.

The foundations of Human Computer Interaction class at RIT stressed the importance of data collection, often through ethnographically informed methods, to aid in the location of problems and creation of solutions.

Here is a report of an interview and observations in the RIT music room.

Here is a pdf showing user storyboards and scenarios involving the music room. Pairs of scenarios show a problem encountered in the music room and a potential solution for the problem.

The logo for the Lost & Found app we designed

The logo for the app we designed.

The Lost & Found UI Booklet is the culmination of work done by a group of four students over the course of the spring 2014 semester. The students collected data about a problem, designed a potential solution for the problem, reflected on their solution, and iterated on that process.

The UI Booklet shows the first screens seen by a person using the app. The team designed wire-frames and screen mock-ups but did not develop the application.

For more detail on the app we designed, take a look at our design notes.

Information and Interaction Design began with each student sketching ideas to solve problems or improve experiences. Here is a pdf containing Alex's first sketches done for the class. One of these sketches aimed to depict an analogy of the design process.

A sketch showing an analogy for the design process.

A sketch showing an analogy for the design process.

Next, the class split into groups and selected one of the sketches to build off of. Alex's group selected his sketch involving a physical wall-mounted calendar that syncs with digital calendars. That sketch led to a series of storyboards showing scenarios as they currently are, then scenarios improved by the team's product.

Here is a poster summarizing the product about halfway through the semester. After the presentation the group decided to re-examine the product's value and moved it in a different direction.

Rather than making a practical product Alex's group decided to move towards a more emotionally driven product. The team had noted that people like to save old calendars and thought this digital calendar would be a great way to automatically store and save the calendar events and the memories that go with it. The team renamed the project to "Memories." Here is a pdf showing the storyboard for the new product. At this point, Alex had to step in as the "artist" as one of the teammates had decided to drop the class.

The now trio eventually made a Wizard of Oz prototype of the app and gave a final presentation with some of the main screens laid out. Here is a pdf showing the screens from the final presentation.

Soon after giving the final presentation for our app, the team discovered Timehop, an app that does most of what the team wanted out of the application. Months later, Facebook added a feature that shows users their old posts from years ago. So unfortunately, the idea was a little late but the team was happy to see that it was a good one!

Usability Testing was a very useful and practical class in the HCI program at RIT. Alex and three teammates, one was a distance learner, worked together with a company to evaluate their product in a test designed and moderated by Alex and his team.

The team met with their client early in the semester and did a heuristic evaluation on the product to show where potential issues and improvements in the application were without testing. After the client made some changes, Alex and his team moved on to create a study and recruit participants. The original expectation was to have participants test an iPad application. As the testing dates drew closer it became clear that the company was not going to have a version of the app that would be ready to test the features that Alex and his team were asked to evaluate. The team quickly created a paper prototype of the application, using screenshots of the application, to use during the testing. Moderating and analyzing the paper prototype test was an excellent exercise in patience and data collection. Alex and his team were careful to make sure that the participants knew how to manipulate the paper prototype in such a way that the experience felt like working with an actual iPad. The semester ended with a presentation to the class and a presentation to the company. The class presentations allowed students to learn from the successes and mistakes of other moderators while the client presentation allowed the team to show all of the useful data they had uncovered. It was a great experience which helped Alex both as a data collector and a designer.

The logo for the project named George

The logo for the project named George.

From March 2014 to August 2015, Alex was employed as a UX Designer working for Dr. Deborah Gears, a professor at at Rochester Institute of Technology on a project called George. George, is a system which aims to facilitate collaboration among researchers across campus. Alex joined the project because he felt it would offer him an opportunity to practice being a UX designer and it appealed to his skills and interests i.e. gamification, psychology, and intrinsic motivation. George went a long way during his time on the project and eventually had a website which offered the opportunity for RIT scholars to have trading cards created for them. These trading cards act as a physical and digital artifact that allow the scholar to pridefully display their work and interests and share it with others at RIT. The website helps scholars and students of RIT to locate and connect with scholars to facilitate collaboration across campus. While Alex was originally hired as a UX Designer, he has been described as someone who is good at planning for the future and seeing the big picture. More often than not Alex found himself working as a problem solver, brainstormer, or just doing what needed to be done. Alex would describe his role at George as a Jack of All Trades.

As a UX Designer for the project, Alex sometimes made PowerPoint presentations to present to the team or other interested parties. Alex would click and narrate through them to show what a certain process might look or feel like. With localized clicks and (pretend) think-aloud narration, the PowerPoint presentations turn into simple Wizard of Oz prototypes. Since Alex would not be present at some meetings, he decided to record some of his mock-ups with narration so that the project lead would not have to memorize the words and actions that go with the mock-up. Below are some examples:

  • This video gives a good overview of George and it's goals and then shows one of Alex's walkthroughs.
  • This video shows an early design for George's referral system.

Earlier in the project, Alex was tasked with making a workflow for the minimum functionality that was expected for the next deadline. Here is a picture of said workflow.

The successor to George is Traiting Spaces, a program run by Boolean Shore which was founded by Dr. Deborah Gears.

The goal of my capstone was to create a visualization to depict the social network formed through George (see above).

My capstone is titled Motivating User Interaction through Social Network Visualization. Follow this link to download the pdf. A recording of my defense (recorded after my actual defense) can be watched here on YouTube.

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