Dear Santa Database
Project Scope:

A conceptualization of an online database providing family members and friends the ability to participate in holiday wish list exchange circles by establishing a personalized circle for friends and family to join via invitations, creating a personalized holiday "wish list" to exchange with everyone within a given circle, and managing your own holiday purchases by evaluating up-to-date "wish lists" of others in order to minimize possibilities of purchasing the wrong thing or duplicating gift purchases.

Project Assessment:

This was a nice challenge for David to end his Prototyping for Interactive Systems course, as it allowed him and his partner to think outside-the-box for something that has not been created, rather than be given a product and design an interface for such a product.  David and his family have exchanged holiday "wish lists" for many years, and with the assignment being distributed immediately prior to Thanksgiving (when the wish lists are exchanged), he thought that something online would be useful for two reasons: (1) to be able to capture wish list changes automatically, and (2) to assist sustainability by not needing to print wish lists on paper to exchange, or having to print off holiday shopping lists.  His partner and his family also exchanged holiday wish lists in a different fashion, but agreed that the project would be ideal to introduce during the holiday season and the need was there.

David really took this project to heart, keeping in mind that his family (and those of his partner's) would be ideal profiles for whom the proposed web site would be used by.  He was very concerned about how accounts would be made, and also incorporated the knowledge that one account may have multiple dependents (ie, children, spouses, elderly) whom wish lists could be made for.  He and his partner was able to come up with different ideas and directions for the site, and believe they came up with a nice conceptual idea.  Upon presenting the project, usability test results, and feedback responses to the class, the class members were quite impressed with the concept, having never seen anything currently like it online.  The project and presentation received very high marks from the course instructor, so much so that he personally recommended the project to multiple deans at IUPUI for potentially taking the research discoveries to business enterprise.  He noted the project was "A simple, yet powerfully useful design of a user-centered, gift management system using the web; so obvious once seen, yet no one in the market appears to have taken this approach ... it smacks of today's web successes where the product is focused, simple, practical, functional, and valuable.  A quick home run with the right backing."

This project also gave David a spark, in conjunction with multiple student's graduate work on campus.  At least two School of Informatics students are currently studying a new phase of fidelity testing called "paper-in-screen", whereby drawings (mostly paper prototypes) are digitally captured and linked for testing applications on mobile devices.  Over the last several projects, David noted that he has been performing similar "paper-in-screen" methodology work from an Internet application perspective (rather than mobile, though both could run concurrently), and as an IT analyst with a technical background, he was able to produce quality prototypes digitally with very minimal coding necessary, and would receive excellent feedback from users in order to redesign or create properly detailed requirements documents, which can, in turn, be given to coding analysts for construction.  He is very interested in discussing possible research methods to further this portion of usability methodology, believing its adoption could be accepted by corporate IT groups in software and Internet development, both with and without usability-specific knowledge sources.

Usability Methods Used (Proposed):
  • Field Research
  • Sketching apparatus and functionality
  • Design & Create Paper and Dynamic Prototype
  • Wireframe Diagrams
  • Storyboarding
  • Interview Evaluations
  • Internal & External (Cognitive) Walkthroughs
David will be teaming with an IT Analyst and Project Manager, one of which he has worked on in previous academic assignments.  David and his project partner began the project with a brainstorming session to elaborate on a proper scope.  He created initial wireframe and paper prototype drawings for internal cognitive walkthroughs between his partner and the class instructor, and created first- and second-round digital diagrams based on agreed-to screen changes.  After a second round of cognitive walkthroughs, he converted all digital diagrams to individual graphics, and linked the graphics to HTML pages, one graphic per page, such that all buttons and clickable areas were just that.  David performed external walkthroughs with 2 volunteers to obtain thoughts and feedback on the proposed interface, and constructed new design ideas based on the acquired test result data.  David concluded the project by collaborating with his partner and class instructor for a final report, complete with screenshots and raw data appendices.
Project Deliverables:
Dear Santa Database Digital Screenshot Report (pdf)
Dear Santa Database Final Report (pdf)
Dear Santa Database Final Presentation (pdf)
Interactive Prototype Web Site (link)