6.831 • User Interface Design and Implementation

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Fall Semester, 2006

GR4: Computer Prototyping

Due in 19 days, at 5:00pm on Tuesday, November 7th, 2006, by email and wiki.


In this group assignment, you will do the first computer-based implementation of your term project.

You may want to use a prototyping tool for this assignment -- such as a GUI builder if you're writing a desktop application, or an HTML editor if you're building a web application. You don't necessarily have to throw this prototype away, so you can choose a tool that will produce code you can use in your final implementation. But you shouldn't get too attached to this prototype either, and be prepared to make radical changes or throw it away if evaluation reveals serious usability problems.

Your computer prototype should consist of a horizontal prototype of all features needed by your scenarios (broad but shallow), plus a vertical prototype of one particular part of your interface (narrow and deep). Choose the riskiest part of your design for vertical prototyping. A feature might be risky because of its user interface; GR3 gave some examples of user interface risks. Or it may be risky because of its backend implementation: maybe it's a complex algorithm to implement, a big library or system component that you haven't used before, or maybe you don't know if the backend you're thinking about using will be fast enough. Think about both frontend and backend risks when judging which feature is worth prototyping deeply. You've already thought about the frontend risks in GR3, and we've given you some ideas about what we thought were the risky parts in our group meeting.

Your prototype should be:

Here are some issues you should not worry about in this prototype:

After you hand in your prototype, it will be distributed to at least four of your classmates, who will do heuristic evaluations of it for assignment HW2 and give their reports back to you. Since your evaluators must be able to view and interact with your prototype, this puts some constraints on how you implement your prototype. It must run on a conventional desktop computer with a mouse, keyboard, and screen, running at least one of the common platforms at MIT (Windows, Linux, Solaris, Mac OS X). The prototype you give to your evaluators can be any of the following:

If you want to hand in your prototype in a format not listed here, check with the course staff first.


Add the following section to your project's wiki page:

What to Hand In

This assignment has two deliverable components: a written report, and the update to your wiki page described above. Both must be complete by the deadline.

Your written report needs only one part this time:

Email your report as a PDF file to 6831handin@csail.mit.edu and include GR4 in the subject line. There are free software products for printing documents out to PDF files.