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Guidelines for MSR Design Expo 2008Redmond, Washington July 27 – 29, 2008
Microsoft is pleased to announce Design Expo 2008 and welcomes your participation. This year we are inviting eight institutions with established programs in interdisciplinary design.
Microsoft is providing a forum around the theme “Learning and Education” to showcase exceptional design process and ideas. As part of a semester long course, students are asked to design a user experience prototype, from which selected projects will be featured in a presentation at the 2008 Microsoft Faculty Summit July 27-29, 2008 in Redmond, Washington. The Design Expo creates a forum for encouraging “out of the box” thinking, by exploring students' visions for the future of computing.
Students work on the theme in small teams (2-6) during the spring 2008 semester. Given specific guidelines (described later in this document), students will research a design problem, define a scenario, ideate design solutions, select one idea to prototype, and study the impact on real users. The best team project, as identified by the professors with some feedback from liaisons, will be invited to attend the Faculty Summit at Microsoft July 16-17.
This document is meant to serve as a set of general guidelines for Design Expo, as opposed to being strict rules for compliance or a legal agreement. We expect these guidelines to be adapted as needed over the course of the semester, by each school to accomplish their own class goals while maintaining some connection to the theme.
The Design Expo is part of a larger event called the Faculty Summit. For more info on the Microsoft Research Faculty Summit, click here: http://research.microsoft.com/workshops/FS2007/
Previous Design Expo projects can be viewed here:
Design Expo 2005
Design Expo 2006 http://research.microsoft.com/workshops/MSRNVideoContent/facsum06/13699/lecture.htm
It is essential that this guideline document should be distributed to the students in the class, which will help to answer their questions about the project and presentation at the Expo.
Design Expo Project Coordinators
Please contact your school liaison, Lili Cheng or Curtis Wong with any questions or comments about these guidelines, etc. It is best if you ‘cc us all when sending in your feedback and questions. (email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Each of the universities will have a Microsoft liaison, who will be the primary contact person for each school. Note: it is our goal to rotate schools so we can work with a variety of schools from all over the world. For this reason, the mix of schools will be different year to year.
Note: This document is meant to serve as a set of guidelines for the Design Expo class, as well as for student projects and presentations, but is not a legal agreement. We expect these guidelines to be adapted as needed over the course of the semester, by each university and their professors.
Table of Contents
The Design Challenge: Learning and Education
2008 Design Expo Schools
Investigation & Conceptualization
Presentation & Demo
Key Design Points
Microsoft Research Goals for Design Expo 2008
Design Expo 2008 Participation
Agreement to participate
Visit by Liaison
Publicity & Ownership
Suggestions for Participants
The 2008 design challenge explores the importance of learning and education. Software can improve the daily life of a wide variety of users through learning and education: from promoting creativity and curiosity in new topics, to demonstrating novel ways of providing instruction, to rethinking education systems and tools. In addition, we hope students think about learning and education in a variety of cultures and learning styles.
Although learning & education is a broad, universal topic, projects should be designed for the needs of a particular user group in a particular situation or culture. Users groups may include: mobile “learner”, online community, preschool, elderly, office workers, individuals who share a particular learning disability, visual or hearing impaired, different roles (student, peer, teacher, social network, and researcher), etc.
Communicate your design by first explaining the situation (via background research, interviews with your users, and describing the local culture or education system), and then explaining your design solutions (through scenarios, innovative designs and interface simulations/prototypes). We encourage you to think beyond traditional software, toward solutions such as lightweight user interfaces for inputting (entering) and outputting (disseminating information) which integrate with everyday life.
Design a tool for mentoring at the high school level. Build this network out to involve local companies who may provide internships and other work opportunities for teen-agers, and to support peer mentoring and support.
Design a social network lets the elderly share their stories to help teach children history, and lets children share their impression and learning with the elderly.
Design learning software for either the visually or hearing impaired. How does knowledge of location and history of the user improve the communication experience? Consider how technology may be used to reduce the barriers of communication between those who are visually impaired and those who are not.
Design a tool to help schools reach out to alumni, parents, and the community to provide additional support for education in the local community. Share information in a way that protect the privacy of the individuals and is safe for kids, but is also open enough to allow for collaboration and connection to interested and qualified people outside the school.
Today many children spend too much time watching TV, playing games, and viewing content inappropriate created by others. Uses the benefits of gaming, structured fun, and delight to encourage creativity, learning and to promote a balanced, creative, active lifestyle.
Design software to provide tools to help people who cannot read, or those who cannot afford computers and access to the Internet.
Explore alternate forms of input which can be used to teach and learn math and science.
The 2008 Design Expo Schools
Arts Center, Product Design, Pasadena, CA, USA
Brian Boyle, Marcello Mezzera, Marty Smith
Liaison: Craig Hally
Carnegie Mellon, Department of Design, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Liaison: Monica Gonzalez
Central Academy of Fine Art, Beijang, China
Dean Ma Gang
Liaison: Dave Vronay
Dundee, Innovation Product Design, UK
Liaison: Richard Banks
Rhode Island School of Design, Industrial Design/Digital+Media, Providence RI
Liaison: Curtis Wong
Technische Universiteit Eindhoven, Department of Industrial Design, Netherlands
Liaison: Sander Viegers
Universidad Iberoameriana, Mexico City, Mexico
Liaison: Andy Cargile
University of Washington, Interaction Design Division of Design
Liaison: Georg Petschnigg
The goal is not to have all projects address the same problem and this is not a competition about who has the “best” solution to a focused problem. It is more important for the students to interpret the theme according to what they feel is important while still achieving the goals that the professor has for the class. The resulting spectrum of design solutions will provide a number of unique and innovative views on the potential future of computing.
Each class will divide into teams of 2-5 students, who will all consider the theme and context. Each team will develop a scenario, audience and design solution and lastly a presentation.
In order to understand your specific design problem, it is essential you first:
Research previous work in the topic area to prevent “re-inventing the wheel.”
Interview real users to understand their point of view and their specific situation, issues and problems to prevent “design for yourself.”
Get feedback on “paper prototypes” as soon as possible to “learn mistakes early”
Design is an iterative process and the professors will work with the students through iterations of the ideation phases to continually refine the scenario, audience and idea to get to a point where such a solution can be transformed into tangible form (e.g.: storyboard) or other simple to produce artifact chosen by the professor. At this point the Microsoft liaison will be looped in as needed to ensure that progress is being made. The purpose of this is to ensure that there is sufficient progress, to allow time for iteration and feedback, and to avoid all of the work happening in the last week before everything is to be completed.
Once scenarios are defined, the teams will focus on building a design prototype, interaction and user experience. Ideally if the design solution involves software, students should mock up what a user would see and do, thinking through the interface, the context of the user and results desired. Students should feel free to use whatever tools they feel comfortable with in doing this kind of work. In prior years, students have used tools such as Flash, Director, scripting or programming tools to help create the illusion of the experience. Others have made movies of part of the experience to set the context.
Think beyond traditional software, toward solutions such as lightweight user interfaces and designing user interaction for your particular scenario and solution. The interfaces and interactions should be designed more to communicate what is unique about the experience. That may be done more effectively with designing an interactive prototype (even if it is a scripted click through) that demonstrates the thinking behind the experience and the interaction design.
The goal of the prototype is to create a vehicle which best communicates the tangible experience of the design solution. The Liaison will work with the professor to determine the practical milestone date for the prototype completion and the nature of what makes and appropriate prototype.
Representative Project Selection
Prior to the final selection date (June ‘08) the professor, other relevant faculty at the school and the MS liaison will evaluate all the student projects and select one team to represent the school at the Faculty Summit in Redmond, WA.
The final presentations will be made by the student(s) and are typically about 10 minutes long covering the problem definition, research findings, scenario, design process (including user feedback), and the design solution. Presentations in the past have been done in PowerPoint or Flash and have sometimes included other media or concept prototypes to help illustrate the point.
Student representatives will also be showcasing their work at the Expo Demofest alongside other university research projects as well as Microsoft Researchers and product groups demonstrating emerging technologies. Students in the past have commented that the presentations and Demofest have been particularly rewarding parts of their experience at the Expo.
The important thing to consider is the balance of effort the students make at the different stages of the design process. Too often the majority of time is spent in the early stages of research and conceptualization leaving little time at the end for the prototype and presentation. If you think of the 10 minutes that you have at the Faculty Summit as the final deliverable, consider each task of the process on how it will contribute to that final result in lieu of the time spent. This is analogous to film students only focusing on elements that will end up in the film and spending less time on things that don’t.
Designs should include user interface interactions as part of the user experience demonstration. Make sure not to gloss over the actual user interface design. In addition to screen and interaction design, we are interested in illustrating how the interactive language may be extended to seamlessly integrate physical design pieces. Solutions should be thought through from multiple perspectives to understand the user’s experience, instructor (if applicable), family and friends, learning community, etc.
Designs should address particular needs & desires of users, ideally coming from diverse economic, professional and cultural backgrounds. It is important to not design for yourself and to remember that ‘others’ do not have your background. The final project should not include only users who share your own perspective, terminology or experience. Choose users and scenarios that extend beyond what is comfortable to you and consider scenarios outside your economic, geographic, cultural and social circles. Learn from observing and studying actual users. Remember that student teams are coming from different countries. We encourage you to represent local culture, making sure to explain the context of your learning system in your design presentation.
Take a point of view and be clear what your user scenario is addressing & what not. It is important to describe a real user scenario and then try out such premises with the user you are designing for. A walk through scenario often shows why the prototype is a good idea and helps those unfamiliar more quickly gain an appreciation of the need or use. Take a stance with your design, commit yourself to a challenge, but also be clear about what you are and what you are not trying to solve. Consider how to leverage existing infrastructures in new ways to provide innovative solutions at less cost to the individual.
Validate your designs with actual user feedback. Involving real users iteratively within the design cycle helps shape product design. This should be done at the very beginning of concept development and evolve into more precise user feedback when the prototype is more ‘finished’. Involve a variety of potential users early and often throughout the design cycle.
Microsoft Research Goals for the Design Expo
Provide a forum for students from around the world to learn from exploring a particular design related theme and build ongoing relationships between schools.
Enable a group of students to network and learn from students in other design programs around the world about how they approach design solutions
Provide a voice for design schools within the Faculty Summit to present their students’ work and raise the awareness and importance of design
Raise the awareness within Microsoft of the capabilities of design schools and their students.
Raise student, faculty and design schools awareness of the value of interaction design in the software development process.
Notification of Participation
Microsoft needs to be notified in writing (email is fine) of your willingness to participate by December 21, 2007 to Lilich@microsoft.com and to your liaison.
Microsoft will donate $10,000 per university. This is an unconditional grant and there are no restrictions placed on the use of these funds.
Faculty Summit transportation costs
Microsoft provides airfare and hotel accommodations for one faculty member and one student to attend the Faculty Summit. Microsoft will cover the hotel accommodations for up to 2 additional faculty members and 4 additional students for a total of five. The school or individual must cover airfare and other expenses. Some schools have chosen to utilize some or all of the grant money for this purpose and that is their choice.
A liaison from Microsoft will visit each university early in 2008. Each assigned liaison will contact the school individually to set up the best date to visit and discuss the project with the professor and students. The liaison will be available to talk informally with students and faculty for approximately a day.
Each university should try to have at least 2 to 3 team projects running within the class. Each of the project teams will be independently evaluated before one is chosen to show at the final July Design Expo. Each project should include students with different backgrounds in their design team, computer science, product design, marketing, psychology etc. Faculty members should not be part of the team. Each project assessment will be made internally by the university using peer and instructor feedback. The university and MS liaison should select one project that they think best illustrates the project brief concepts/goals and best represents them at Microsoft. The MS liaisons can also be used to help make the final project selection. Selection should be based on the following criteria and the ability to complete the final documentation.
Interdisciplinary collaboration: the prototype designs should reflect the contributions of members of different disciplines.
Originality: it is important to show unique and new interface designs along with new applications
Practicality: the prototypes should be based on what is most realistically likely to happen with technology in the context proposed.
Design point of view: the design should take a clear stance. It should address a real user need and show how it is addressed by the solution.
Design validation & user feedback: the prototype should show how user involvement was used to evolve the design concepts. This means showing how you used real users and incorporated their feedback.
Degree of finish: the prototypes should be understandable and clearly described, but need not be ‘implemented’ or built to a final detail level. It is important you actually design the user interface and we will look at the UI for degree of finish.
Presentation skills: the project team should be capable of being able to present in an engaging and crisp manner about the project goals; ideas and process of design (see later tips).
Design process: the prototype should show how user involvement was used directly to evolve the design concepts. This means showing how you used real users and incorporated their feedback
We are assuming that all class projects and their associated work in progress are posted to a university area related to the school web site. Please send the URL details to the project coordinators (Lili and Curtis) and your school liaison by end of January ‘08. This Web site will be used for review purposes by both the MS liaisons and the project coordinators. It is important to send email to the project coordinators when significant additional or new information has been uploaded for review. When the class is ready for their mid-term review, please send an email to both project coordinators/liaisons. Every school will receive feedback and recommendations on all their projects both at the mid-point of the class and around the final or end of the course. We expect to give this feedback to each school within a week of receiving an update request from the schools.
After the professor, liaison and project coordinators have selected one project by June ‘08 to represent the school at the Microsoft Design Expo, we need to review the selected project’s final presentation before your visit.
Submission checklist for the selected project
Project summary and contact information: Each project should have a completed project information form – including the student’s names, majors, and the professor names, your URL or project on CD/DVD-ROM along with any system requirements that are needed to run the design prototype.
One paragraph abstract for announcements of project work: A written summary that describes the project briefly and that we can use for announcements the work
Interactive presentation (for Design Expo presentation): The project presentation should take about 10 minutes and include a high-level overview slide. The electronic form of this presentation should be clear to a non-team person and should be self-explanatory. All software fonts, applications etc. need to be included with the submission. This will be used as the basis of what will be used for the dry runs in Redmond, Washington at Microsoft.
User research (as part of your Design Expo presentation): Short highlights of any user study interviews could be included (if some unique insightful moment occurs) within the presentation to demonstrate how users influenced the project design direction. If you interview people for the user studies make sure to get their written permission in order to use their comments.
One page project summary handout to distribute during the presentation: A one pager (12 point +) should include the school with your names, and you should summarize the goals and solutions of the project. It is worth sending a draft of this with your slides for some additional feedback. This hand out should explain in concise compelling sentences what, how and why you designed what you designed. A few small pictures are helpful, so readers with no more than this one pager can understand the general product ideas and the overall project goals.
When you come to Microsoft, in addition to the items above, please also bring with you the following:
Supporting materials for demo booth and presentation: Additional print outs of sketches; photos or models can be provided. One day of the design expo will include showing your project in a demo booth with the students from the other school. Please bring any signage or demo materials with you.
Editable materials Please bring editable (source) materials with you to Microsoft. Most people tend to revise their presentations after getting feedback, and it is easier to edit if you bring original images, etc.
Large images and project name of projects not selected. Unfortunately we can’t bring more than one project per school out to Microsoft. We would like to show large images & titles of projects not selected during the presentation to the audience. Please keep this in mind and make the images available on the web for all projects. It is critical that this material be submitted to us by June 12th so we can ensure that information about all projects and students working on those projects NOT selected are included in an introductory presentation at the Design Expo.
Microsoft will try and provide some avenues for the students to talk to the press about their work and meet Microsoft researchers, designers, and design recruiters.
The Design Expo will be held in coordination with the Microsoft Faculty Summit. Approximately 300 faculty from the US, India, and Latin America will be on campus to meet one another and find out more about Microsoft Research. We will also invite these attendees, along with the Microsoft design community to attend the Design Expo. The Design Expo is one event and part of the Faculty Summit.
Ownership and Commercialization
The work and curriculum of the course should follow ownership and commercialization policy of each individual university. Microsoft does not own any of this work, nor requires any first right of refusal.
We would like to post the recorded presentations on the Microsoft Research website http://research.microsoft.com, and we will ask speakers to sign a speaker presentation form.
We will also ask you to release content in the talk (including any third party content such as images of other projects) to the public domain, so others can use content for free without further restrictions on use or redistribution.
Schedule and Important Dates
Dec 1: Design Expo 2008 Project Brief will be distributed with examples of summaries from last year's Design Expo 2008.
Dec 21: Notification of acceptance must be sent to Lilich@microsoft.com and your liaison.
Jan 23: Send URL of class project sites to Lilich, Curtis and your MS liaison.
Feb 6: Schedule visits for liaison.
March 6: Liaisons will coordinate with schools on initial project progress.
April 3: Mid-term progress reviews given via email feedback (PCs and liaisons)
May 22: Final project submissions of all students class projects. Final project feedback given via email on all projects.
June 1: Notify MSR and project liaisons of the one project selected from each university to represent the school to present at the Faculty Summit. Send professor and student attendee names with their email contact details to Curtis and Lili.
Note: Any visa requests must be made ASAP, as required
June 19: Draft of chosen project student presentations (10-min) and description of all projects with team member names are sent to Lili, Curtis and your liaison
July 10: Feedback on final MSR school presentation
Note: this schedule may change slightly, and we will send out an update when we are closer to the event.
July 26: Arrival. Students and faculty arrive
Each school will walk through their presentation in the Conference Center & get feedback on their presentation from project coordinators, faculty and their liaison. The schedule is fairly tight, so come prepared with your laptop and presentation.
July 27: Preparation, activities
July 28: Demo Fest, Design Expo Event
Design Expo 2008 in Redmond, part of the Microsoft Research Faculty Summit. The Faculty Summit runs Monday and Tuesday July 27th and 28th from 9am through 5pm both days. The Design Expo will probably be scheduled some time Tuesday afternoon but the exact time will be sent as we get closer to the date and conference details get confirmed. Following the presentations, we will have optional visits of design teams @ Microsoft and a group celebratory party in the evening.
July 29 Departure or other plans.
Assemble as broadly based interdisciplinary team as possible, aim to include different skill sets – graphic designers, film-makers, psychologists, anthropologists, programmers, musicians, marketers etc.
Recognize that by virtue of the fact that the team is from different backgrounds they will disagree and argue, so the design solution will have to evolve.
Establish a design process with a schedule and use it to help meet your project goals and to mediate your design decisions. Often too much time is spent reaching consensus and brainstorming up front, then too little is left to be spent on the final design aspects of the final project.
Decide up front who and what will be documented throughout – do not document after the prototype is ‘finished’. This work in progress should be posted often to the Web site for your team’s project.
Describe and meet your “ultimate” real users. Then interview this user to find out their problems, needs and desires.
Study existing products, markets and research findings, so you do not re-invent some existing work.
Prototype your ideas often and in rough ways and forms. Use these to gain feedback from your users, before you start building or designing anything more complete. Do not forget to keep a log of your prototype for later inclusion in your design story.
Consider how your design concepts relate to other situations. We think it is useful to design prototype concepts that can be adapted to suit other people for different purposes and with different life styles. This can help to lengthen the product cycle and allow users to customize and personalize their own devices.
Simulate the look and feel of the user’s tasks or sequences of operations with any available prototyping tools such as Flash, Director, PhotoShop, etc. Please try to make sure you can show your work/presentations on Windows and/or Internet Explorer. This will make remote feedback and presentation setup much easier. If you need additional Microsoft Software (Visual Studio, C#, SQL, etc.) to build your prototypes please let your liaison know and we will try to get you this software.
Repeat your cycle of design with users several times and show how you changed your product and interaction design directions.
Make physical mock-ups of the devices, wherever appropriate.
Document any design evolution stages to include later in your presentations.
Practice your talk including all your props. This can be usefully done alone, with team members, and with novice audiences. Video tape yourself for practice, it is a great learning experience.
Time your talk to get a better feeling for how long it takes to describe things clearly to a novice audience.
Never underestimate how little the audience knows about what is so interesting about your project.
The audience will engage more if you are enthusiastic and engaging. You’ve put a lot of effort into your work, so speak with enthusiasm and energy.
Make slides visible from the back of a large room (try them out!)
Do not talk over any audio in your presentation.
Presentation slide topics to include
WHO – team members’ backgrounds
WHAT – what was designed and for whom? What is the design point of view you took?
WHY – why is this an important/useful need or problem to address?
HOW – describe the design processed used
Design – details of what was designed?
Show highlights of the prototyping process
Show iterations of the design evolution (what worked what did not work)
Show specific details that demonstrate how well you understood and solved the problem
Issues - what were the design problems encountered?
What did you learn and what would you do differently?
What are your next steps? Where would you take your design if you had a year to work on it?
conference details get confirmed. Following the presentations, we will have optional visits of design teams @ Microsoft and a group celebratory party in the evening.