UCSIM Design Process
The UCSIM | Center for Simulations & Virtual Environments Research uses an iterative design process that encourages our partners and clients to be actively involved throughout the development period. We prefer to have frequent meetings and review periods to ensure that our work is in line with expectations and on-budget.
The process begins by defining the parameters of the project – audience, objective, and scope. Then, we storyboard your concepts or ideas to narrow down the aesthetic, design, and main interaction points for the project. After approval of the storyboards and design documents, we begin to design the first iteration of the software, and enter “the loop” of testing, implementing, evaluating, and refining the project.
Defining the target audience for the project is one of the most critical first steps because it helps inform a number of technology choices that must be made early in the design process.
- Who are the stakeholders? Who should be involved in the design process?
- Do you have all the right people at the table?
- Who are the users of the final product?
- Do you have primary and secondary audiences?
- Will your application be used by the general public or only specific segments of the campus community?
- How many users do you expect to have in your target population?
- What is the total number of users expected? (Scale)
- How many people will be using the application at the same time? (Concurrency)
- How will they be accessing your project?
- On a desktop PC?
- Mobile device?
- Web browser?
- Learning management system?
- Where will they have the experience?
- At home?
- On campus?
- In your office?
- A computer lab?
Thinking about these audience questions early in the process will help guide our technology choices about back-end systems for scalability and delivery methods.
Once the audience has been determined, the next step in the process is to think about the objectives that should be achieved through the user experience. Wherever possible, the objectives should be
SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Reasonable, Trackable.
- What new behaviors should result from the experience?
- What are the learning objectives for the user?
- What specific skills should be improved?
- Do all objectives have the same priority?
For each objective, there should be a corresponding way to measure whether or not the objective was achieved, either through analytics of the user’s actions or through follow-up assessment.
Lastly, clearly defining the scope of the project helps to keep the project manageable. Good design comes from making good choices, and that includes choices about what not to implement.
- What is the overall budget for the project?
- What is the timeline for the final deliverable?
- Is the content narrowly tailored to achieve the objectives?
- How long should the user experience last? 5 minutes? 20 minutes?
- Who has final decision-making authority over the budget and technical choices?
Estimates & Project Specification
Once these details have been determined, the UCSIM team will work with you to create a Proposal & Estimate document that, once approved, provides the basis of the Project Specification, Service Level Agreement, or Contract that formalizes our understanding and agreement about the work to be performed. We can provide appropriate templates for these documents, or work with your business office as needed for the project.
Design & “The Loop”
Once the overall project parameters are well defined, the real design work begins with the storyboarding of key frames, scenes, user interface elements, and action points, after which, the UCSIM team begins to develop your project or application and we enter “the loop” of testing, implementing, evaluating, and refining the project. This process ideally occurs in two-week sprints, with frequent points of feedback to keep the project on track, on time, and on budget.
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