Project 3: I Do and I Understand

Interaction Design and information design can be powerfuls tools to create understanding of complex topics, from physics to economic theory to politics. In this unit, we will explore an area of complexity, create our understanding of it via models and maps, then build an explorable explainer. We will validate with our target users along the way.

Phase 1: First Seek to Understand

We’ll watch a documentary (from the list below), create a mind map, interview people to understand what elements are confusing to them about the topic, and do secondary research to see what others have learned. From this we’ll create a problem statement with illustrative models. We’ll also take a look at tools for implementation to preview the world of opportunities and identify the tools that are feasible for your team to engage with.

Suggested Topics:

Phase 2: Explore Explanation Strategies through Prototypes

Using metaphors and visual language, we’ll explore a variety of approaches to the problem, including dark horse ideation, then refine it with critique and user testing of paper prototypes. Document all your exploration and user testing -- you’ll need it for the final process document. The final output of this phase will be one idea you have selected to move forward with.

Phase 3: Make it So

We will code a digital prototype of your final solution. These final prototypes should show design polish and complete thinking in the interaction choices.

Final Deliverable

The final deliverable will include the explorable explainer itself and a process document. The process document should include all of the following in one PDF:
  • Cover sheet and ToC
  • Problem statement
  • Research documentation (primary and secondary)
  • Models and sketches created to understand the problem space
  • User testing results and evolution of design
  • Final work
  • Summary
  • Overview of what you learned (before this project, I thought this, but now I think...)
  • Next steps you would take if you have more time

Grading rubric

This rubric will apply to the final submission. We put it here from the start so that you can see how the intermediate parts play into the final evaluation.

Category Scores
[1 / 7pts]
Problem statement is inappropriate for the problem space.
[3 / 7pts]
Problem statement demonstrates only a cursory understanding of the problem space and/or a vague point of view.
[5 / 7pts]
Problem statements demonstrates an understanding of the problem space but is not very deep and/or the point of view is clear but isn’t very insightful or actionable.
[7 / 7pts]
Problem statement is demonstrates a clear, deep understanding of the problem space and espouses a strong, insightful point of view on what the explainable must accomplish.
Explorations and Iterations
[1 / 7pts]
Explorations are limited (in class exercise only) and iterations do not make sense/were not tested with users.
[3 / 7pts]
Explorations and iterations are minimal and cursory with very limited user feedback integrated.
[5 / 7pts]
Explorations and iterations are fine, but uneven or limited. Some user feedback was not addressed and/or the idea space was not fully explored.
[7 / 7pts]
Explorations are expansive and were iterated, effectively incorporating research and feedback to evolve the design.
Effectiveness of Final Product
[1 / 7pts]
Final product is completely ineffective at explaining the topic.
[3 / 7pts]
Final product attempts to explain the topic but the explanation is confusing, incomplete, or misleading.
[5 / 7pts]
Final product explains the topic mostly effectively, but is uneven, incorporating some areas that are confusing, vague, or difficult to engage with.
[7 / 7pts]
Final product effectively explains the complex topic in an extremely compelling, unqiue manner that brings new understanding to everyone who engages with it.
[1 / 4pts]
Documentation is vague, opaque, missing.
[2 / 4pts]
Documentation is poor. All components are there but many are confusing. Many statements are not well supported or presented without any explanation.
[3 / 4pts]
Documentation is uneven. Some areas are well documented and clear while others have minor problems in formatting, content, or polish.
[4 / 4pts]
Documentation is concise and extremely clear. All pictures are captioned and/or annotated. It is easy to read and understand what happened and why and the arguments are well supported. There are not typos or grammatical errors. It is a joy to read.

If any of the deliverables are missing, we will reduce your score by 25% per deliverable.