David Golightly's Ideas
Some ideas for specific projects:
Technology for supporting inter-campus travel – There are an increasing number of websites and mobile apps available to encourage sustainable travel. Most function at a UK or regional (eg transport for London) level. However, here at the University we have very specific needs, particularly when it comes to travelling between campuses. Being able to make travel easier between campuses would have many benefits for staff and students such as reducing overcrowding on hopper buses, reducing travelling times, and reducing car journeys between the campuses. The aim of the project would be to apply a user-centred design process to identifying, prototyping and evaluating an application (could be web, mobile, shared display based) to support inter-campus travel. The student could choose a platform of their choice, could support any transport mode (walking, bus, car) and support either staff or students – I would be happy to offer suggestions!
Automating social processes - Technology can be used to automate the process of arranging activities that may have a strong social or collaborative element. One example is car sharing, where matching services now offer the capability to search a database of members and find ideal matches. However, such technology may automate out a stage of communication which is critical to establishing trust between people in the arrangement. The project would explore the nature and importance of ‘manual’ communication in the automation of social processes, such as car sharing. This may involve taking a set of communications (eg car share arrangements) and analysing them to determine what is essential for building trust, potentially generating design recommendations or a UI prototype. Alternatively, the study may propose UI designs that would probe people’s responses and attitudes to different levels of social automation.
Fidelity of prototyping - There is much anecdotal evidence that lower fidelity prototypes can elicit richer and more constructive feedback than more refined, higher fidelity prototypes. This may be due to lower fidelity prototypes leaving more ‘gaps’ in their design for evaluation participants to fill with their own thoughts and comments. The project would examine whether this is the case by carrying out a lab study of different prototype presentations and assessing what quality (and quantity) of comments are elicited. An ideal student would have some prior knowledge or interest in graphic design or UI prototyping, and be interest in more qualitative analysis.
System response in the mobile user experience - System response delays, either through limited connectivity, or limitations in processing power, are still an issue with many user experiences. System response delays can have a whole series of different impacts on both cognitive performance, and satisfaction. Also, negative perceptions arising from system response may lead to negative perceptions of other aspects of user experience (eg the perceived complexity of the interaction). This project would build a testbed for examining system response for a given task, and carry out some provisional lab testing. The project could cover any domain that takes the students interest, though it would require some suitable coding ability in that domain – this would be a particularly interesting and useful project if the student could prototype some simple mobile user experience and manipulate system response.