I have done the first part of the project which is the proposal ” it is attached”

what you have to do is:

In the previous phase you were asked to propose a project. As part of the proposal you had to identify a problem that you wanted to solve. Remember that your project must result in a solution to activities or tasks that some person or groups of persons were performing until now in some way and you believe you can provide a better way. You were also asked to identify who will be the users of your solution. Mirroring the process that was discussed in Module 2, in the second part of the project you will take the first step in the user engagement. This corresponds to identifying the user needs and requirements.

To do so, you must talk to users. This is clearly a time consuming task. You should start by identifying representative users and then engage them in conversation to understand their actual needs and come up with a list of requirements organized in some order of priorities.

This phase of the project lets you talk to representative users to understand their actual needs, and to describe tasks and a prioritized list of requirements. Here are the steps you should follow:

A. Identify a List of Potential Users

These users should be performing some variations of the tasks that your solution will help with. In some cases, you may discover that you have several distinct groups. For example, if the goal is to create a digital display, one hand a group of users would be formed by the people visualizing the display, on the other, another group would be formed of the people providing data/information to be displayed.

Identifying representative users and engaging them is not easy. Given that you only have a limited amount of time for this step, you should carefully choose the approach that best works for you. Below are the possible approaches:

  1. Work with the real client(s) / user(s). You can either observe them as they work or you can interview them about why and how they do their work activities, and what they expect out of a system.
  2. Work with user representatives. User representatives can be somebody that, while not having direct experience with the tasks have enough knowledge on the user’s needs or have observed users performing the tasks. For example, if planning to design a new digital toy, instead of interviewing children, you can talk to parents or to caregivers. It is important that the representative has a good understanding of the user and the tasks such that the information provided to be meaningful.
  3. Make your own assumptions (when neither users or representatives are available). In this case use your colleagues or friends to articulate expected tasks. This may not be as successful as working with users, but it may work out. You should however ensure you get user feedback in the future project phases. If finding any users is such a significant challenge, you may also consider revising your project topic.

Interact with some of these users (2-4 people). Either observe them doing their tasks or ask them to describe how do they usually do their tasks. For each person you work with:

  1. Have the user (or substitute) describe how they usually work on the tasks that you want to support. Where possible, describe the people, the particular problems they wanted to solve, what information they brought into the meeting, the steps taken in the actual process, the constraints they had (e.g., time), what was produced, and whether they were satisfied with the outcome. All details are relevant. Alternatively, the task could be derived from direct observation of them doing their work.
  2. On a more general and less detailed level, list as many related tasks and their variations as possible.
  3. There will be many task variations in the list. Identify (with the user, if possible) which tasks are frequent, which are infrequent but still important, and which are rarer and not very important.

At this point, you will have a set of concrete, detailed examples of tasks that people now perform, or would want to perform on your system.

Step A Deliverables

As deliverables for step A you should have:

A1: A list of user interviews. Each interview should include a short user description (age, gender, occupation, etc.) together with either observed or described activities. At the beginning of each interview please describe who you talked to in general terms (i.e., undergraduate female, restaurant owner, etc.) or how you generated the tasks. Do NOT include any personally identifying information about individuals you talked.

A2: A lists of tasks that your interface should do, summarized from the user interaction.

B. Task list validation

In many scientific experiments the hypothesis that is formed from observations must be validated. Similarly in our design process, we must see if our proposed list of tasks will be indeed supported of the users’s expectations.

For this, you should ask again several (2-4) users (preferably not the same ones from step A). Describe them the application and present them with your list of tasks. See if the tasks correspond to their expectations. If yes, ask for additional details. If no, ask for deletions, additions or changes. You should ask for details that were left out get corrections, clarifications, and suggestions, and then re-write the task descriptions.

Step B Deliverables

As deliverables for step B you should have:

B1: A list of user discussions. Each discussion should include a short user description (age, gender, occupation, etc.) together with a summary of the feedback received

B2: A lists of revised tasks that your interface should do, summarized from the user interaction, ranked according to their importance and with details or clarifications added..

B3: A revised list of users. In the process of identifying the tasks, you may realize that your solution might have been too optimistic and that, instead you may want to focus on a narrower approach (and thus eliminate some user groups). It is also possible to discover that your project may have a larger audience than thought, in that case you may want to add user groups. Finally, you may want to improve the specificity of the groups.


  • While in step A, you can take a more generic path to interacting with the users, in step B, you must make sure you engage the users in meaningful tasks. Nielsen has a good coverage on how task descriptions should be formulated to interact with the users (see Turn User Goals into Task Scenarios for Usability Testing- (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.) . You should also read Chapter 2 Getting to Know Users and Their Tasks from Task-Centered User Interface Design A Practical Introduction by Clayton Lewis and John Rieman (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.)
  • This project stage is the moment where you should reach a solid understanding of what is needed for your project to be successful. Please keep in mind both the user needs and your abilities. If in the process you discover that the list of tasks will be too complex to tackle as class project or that your technical abilities will not be able to meet the requirements, you should consider revising the project. While failing to deliver a solution is not the end of the world, your project is evaluated on how well were you able to meet the proposed plan.

C. Placement in context

Provide annotated references (1-3 sentences for each) to a set of the key 3-4 academic papers, industrial reports, and web pages on your topic. Compare your work to existing products. The proposal phase includes information on how to find such papers. Here they are again:

A great location to find research is the HCI Repository (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. or the ACM database (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. (where you can read papers from various conferences). You may also simply search on (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. In addition, you can get inspiration from UX Magazine (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. (look at articles and technologies).


For this phase, you must create a single document the following information:

  • Project Title
  • Your Name
  • A1. list of user interviews
  • A2. lists of initial tasks
  • B1. list of user discussions on the tasks
  • B2. lists of revised tasks
  • B3. revised list of users
  • The literature synopsis

Submission Instructions

  • Submit your user needs document formatted as above. Preferably, submit your assignment as a PDF document, or alternatively as a Word document, or as text.
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