Design Case 2010 USI Programme, Module D      

Panos Markopoulos

About the Design Case

The design case is a team project executed by multi-disciplinary teams of 4-5 USI post-graduate students, in a period of 10 weeks.  This project provides an opportunity for USIs to execute a full user-centred design cycle where they can prototype and test their own design ideas with users and learn in practice how to embed user involvement in an iterative and explorative design process.  All design case projects should have a strong industrial relevance, innovative character and a research component.  A large proportion of past USI design cases have been published at international research conferences.

Currently Design Case 2010 is in the start up phase; information on how to shape these projects with Panos, the USIs and the project owners can be found below.

Key points in shaping new design case projects

Project formation

In order to improve the embedding of the USI program in the faculty, this year a selection of project themes will be provided to the the USIs, with some initial ideas for projects.

Potential project owners will present some of these topics to the USIs on Wednesday, June 16.

At this stage USIs may subscribe to projects and try to form quickly teams with mixed backgrounds and with a shared interest in the topic. While iniitally each USI may follow discussions on more than one project, teams should crustallize by June 22, by when an initial project topic must be agreed with Panos, the project owners based and the team. At this stage it is only required to have  a short description (from 2-3 lines, to half an A4), describing a topic of interest. This topic must lend itself to a user centered design process: a need of users, a user experience that needs to be designed, etc.

A full problem definition will be constructed by USIs, Panos and coaches collaboratively in the first week dedicated to the design case: the final deadline for this is July 2.

Objective of the course

This course gives the chance to USI’s to pull together the knowledge they have acquired in the taught modules of the programme.  They get hands-on experience in interaction design following a complete iteration of a design lifecycle, from requirements analysis to implementation and testing.

This design case aims to consolidate knowledge of user centred design by attacking a challenging, complicated and industrially relevant problem which is relevant to current state of the art in interaction technology.  Emphasis is placed upon having a good design and on good design approach.  Critical design decisions must be reflected on a prototype and tested with users.

Compared to the 9-month industrial project of the 2nd year of the USI programme, the design case aims to ensure an appropriate and complete execution of a user centred design lifecycle and to expose USIs to the practical difficulties of teamwork in a multi-cultural environment.  This may or may not happen in the industrial project, which can focus on a small part of the process, e.g., implementation or usability testing and where USIs are often working individually. 

This design case aims to provide students with a reference point as to what is ‘best practice’ for involving users and basing design on empirical user studies. so that they can transfer this knowledge to the industry during their industrial placement.


Project planning for Design Case 2009

The following time is currently allocated to the project

week 26, June 28-July 2

week 34 &35, Aug 23-Sept 3

weeks 37 & 38,   Sept 13-24

weeks 41 &42  Oct 11-Oct 22

weeks 48, 49, 50 Nov 29-Dec 17

Roughly, the project should follow the following phasing. Note, that depending on the nature of the project, the problem and the team, you may enter the design cycle at different places, e.g., use an evaluation of an existing system as a requireemnts gathering technique. However, there is a strong interest to conclude with prototypes and evaluation of prototypes rather than stop with initial formulations of concept scenarios at an abstract level.


Ending date


Project phase


July 2


Problem Definition

Problem definition (initial exploration)

Problem statement

1 A4 describing the detailed problem statement and related work.

Sept 3

User Needs  Study

User Needs Analysis

(define target users, tasks, needs, etc.)

20’oral presentation

Submit 2 page report describing process and results.  Interesting data should be included as an appendix. 

Sept 24

Concept Design

Concept Design and Evaluation Plan

15’ oral presentation (5' discussion)

Submit 2 page report describing concept, design rationale and initial evaluation plan.  Interesting information should be included in an appendix.

NB. Please get in touch with Panos and Mia as soon as possible for equipment you might need to buy

Oct 22


Prototype demo/evaluation plan

Detailed Design/Implementation

Demonstrate to supervisor on date due.

Submit 1 A4 max. with evaluation plan

Dec 17


Final Presentation

Evaluation and report writing

30’presentation of whole project.

Submit report describing the whole project, with all relevant materials (and intermediate reports) as appendices.  A CD Rom with all relevant material (including the report) should be submitted.


Reports should be handed (both as electronic and paper versions) to the coach and to Panos on the day of the deadline.


Past runs of the course

the course runs since 2001. The description of some previous runs can be found at:  Design Case 2006, Design case 2007, Design Case 2008 Design Case 2009


A full list of past design cases