Every mobile app gives you something. It could be not only something tangible like the pair of jeans you've ordered using the app but also a piece of work like waking you up in the morning. It could be a feeling, for instance, a feeling of enjoyment obtained from watching a video clip or a feeling of closeness flashed out after receiving an old photo from a loving person via some instant messenger. That "something" is actually the reason why you use the app, it is the heart of the product, and in this course we will not talk about it. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. There are always two sides of a coin. There should be a person who makes that "something" accessible. It is astonishingly important because the use of the product loses its meaning if users can’t get what they want.
The main objective of the course is to teach you to shape mobile products and services for people’s use. To do that, you’ll need to learn:
- Interaction design activities and their place in the whole product design process
- User research methods with a focus on the qualitative ones
- Usability inspection and empirical usability evaluation methods
- The process of design creation and best practices from interaction design, information architecture and visual design fields of study with a focus on the former
Interfaces of handheld devices and tablets are in the spotlight. However, the processes and techniques covered by the course can be successfully applied to design interactions with mobile web apps and wearables. It should be noted that this course does not cover topics such as design management and mobile development, and it will as well not teach you how to use wireframing and prototyping tools.
What makes the course unique is a focus on the way of thinking during a design process, the representation of a designer’s decisions in the form of design questions that make the continuous reflection on the design process possible and leads to the growth of the number of proposed design alternatives. The second unique thing about this course is a focus on the explanation of the concept of usability problems, and the processes of discovering and analysing them.
Upon completion of the course, you will be able to:
- Improve designs by eliminating different kinds of interaction problems
- Design huge chunks of user interfaces in the case of adding a new feature to a product
- Redesign a complete app by a given set of functions (e.g., extending an existing product to a new platform)
The practical part of the course will require you to discover and eliminate interaction problems of a chosen mobile app. You will go through running guerrilla usability study, analysing gathered data, and making evidence-based design changes, which will enable you to create your first case study.
WEEK 1: Mobile Interaction Design: An introduction The first week is introductory in nature. It examines the place of interaction design activities in the whole product design process as well as essential concepts such as usability and the context of use that you need to comprehend before proceeding to the next week. At the end of this week, you’ll also get acquainted with such thing as design-informing models and learn how to create personas that I recommend you to do while working on your practical task.
WEEK 2: User Research This week gives you the whole idea of the methods used for studying the context of use. It also examines how to look for participants in detail, plan and conduct Cooper's ethnographic interviews and qualitative data analysis. This knowledge will enable you to drill down into the usage context of the mobile app you’ve chosen.
WEEK 3: Usability Inspection Methods & Intro to Usability Evaluation The third week covers the overview of usability evaluation methods, the examination of essential usability evaluation concepts and models such as user interface idioms, Norman’s Stages-of-action model, usability problems and so on, as well as detailed discussion of several usability inspection methods including Cognitive walkthrough, Scenario-based walkthrough, and design reviews. At the end of this week, you’ll learn how to make sense of data gathered through formative usability evaluation methods. Here you can find the first graded peer-review assignment dedicated to forming recruitment criteria for guerrilla usability tests you’ll conduct later.
WEEK 4: Guerrilla Usability Testing & Field Visits This week is solely dedicated to two methods: Guerrilla usability testing and field visits aimed at evaluating usability. It examines how to plan and conduct them in detail. You’ll apply the knowledge acquired through this week to develop a test plan and submit it as a part of the second graded peer-review assignment.
WEEK 5: The Process of Design Creation The process of design creation is a structured way to come up with as many interaction design solutions as possible which are designed to support your creativity. In combination with the appropriate way of selecting among the solutions examined in this week too, the process enables you to find the most usable solutions within existing constraints. This week examines the process of design creation and all related topics in detail.
WEEK 6: Accumulated Design Knowledge & Task Redesign Designers base their solutions on design decisions already made by their fellow designers. This week is dedicated to the discussion of the knowledge that is already there and where to find it. In this week you’ll also learn basic design principles and examine the aspect that is very important for mobile interaction design: How to redesign user tasks. This week you will need to conduct the guerrilla usability testing according to the plan you have and record all its sessions. Some of these recordings may be submitted as part of the optional peer-review assignment. This will allow you to get feedback on how you moderated the study.
WEEK 7: Navigation Design & Design Rationale The organisation of a mobile user interface and navigation between its parts is a crucial aspect of mobile interaction design. The first part of this week examines different iOS and Android navigational patterns and their application in real world context. At the end of this week, you’ll learn how to write design rationale, an explicit justification of decisions behind an interaction design. This knowledge will enable you to complete the last graded peer-review assignment in one of the following weeks.
WEEK 8: Intro to Visual Design Designing aesthetically pleasant user interfaces is no less important than designing usable interfaces. This week is solely dedicated to the former. You’ll learn how to choose and customise types, apply different types of colour schemes, select and use images, create a sign and design a harmonious layout of the mobile screen. Here you can find the peer-review assignment dedicated to the analysis of data gathered through guerrilla usability testing.
WEEK 9: Catch Up Week This week has no theoretical material and is designed to give you time to work on your practical task.
WEEK 10: Final Week This week includes the last graded peer-review assignment that is dedicated to the elimination of interaction problems found earlier.