Winter School on User Experience Design 2017

Winter School on User Experience Design is a crash course on the vast topic of Human-Computer Interaction with a practical lens of learning how to build useful, usable and desirable interfaces. It is being held at IIIT Delhi on 4th -9th December 2017 – who wants to miss such opportunity when it’s happening in your town. I applied at the last moment, and luckily, got the confirmations soon.


  1. Demystifying User Experience, Interaction Design, and HCI
  2. Types of Interfaces: Mobile, Web, Wearable, Virtual Reality
  3. User-Centered Design (UCD) Process
  4. Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods
    • Interviews
    • Field Observations
    • Cognitive Walkthrough
    • A/B Testing
    • Usability Testing
  5. Contextual Inquiry
  6. Brainstorming and bodystorming
  7. Rapid Prototyping: Paper, Video, Corrugated sheets
  8. Information Architecture
  9. Case studies
  10. Emotional design

The event was engaged in a variety of workshops and sessions. Like, morning sessions were more of theory and the evening ones were pragmatic. The primary focus was on User Centric Designs, and so the policy was – user comes first.

Since it was a project-based course, so, at the start of the school, we were divided into groups of 4, which will remain the same until the end of the school. And this’s how it begins –

1. Selecting a problem statement.

[Day 1] Theme of the project was ‘SMART CITY’, and we had to select a problem statement in any one sector in the smart city, like travel, communication, tourism, infrastructure, security, etc. It’s hard to think about a problem without predicting the solutions first, trust me. We ended up giving 5 silly problem statements, out of which, only one was valid and the funniest too. At times, we were confused with the statement – ‘Why humans in the metro cities can’t enjoy nature?!’

2. User Research.

[Day 2] The most fun part – field observation – a survey. So, the major difficulties here were to set the target audience, ask the right set of questions and not to make the user think about fake cases.

A few important points to remember before going to users are – keep the questionnaire ready, you should be clear with the parameters to note from the user, always keep a video or audio recording of the conversation with the user.

Types of the questions for the users were like –

  • How often do they travel?
  • What could be the possible reasons for their traveling/not traveling?
  • What kind of places do they like the most?
  • What do they mean by the word ‘NATURE’?
  • …. etc.

At the end of the day, we got 12 live and 28 online responses. But we were still missing some data and managed to get a few more responses with better questions this time.

3. Brainstorming and Ideation.

[Day 3] A tiring but interesting part, where you arrange all the data and do a cognitive research with user inputs. We divided the data into 4 parts –  problems, needs, types of user and all the keywords that describe NATURE according to the user.

Now, we created a persona and a scenario for every user, with the help of the audio and video recordings of the conversations with the user, to know more about them.

Acting as a typical user and to think accordingly is a major key to the research. Taking a risk to think about the solutions, we noted around 15 different ideas, where every idea was equally important for the user. It’s high time to cluster the ideas, get a feasible and a usable solution.

And our final idea was – Natureye. A VR integrated mobile application with an extra hardware that fits with the VR for the immersive effects, which could also –

  • Locate the user and update with the current climatic changes and air quality of the location.
  • Shows nearby places having good air quality only.
  • Advises the user to schedule their travel plan according to the climate change and change in the air quality of the destination.
  • Getting a virtual experience of nature using a 360-degree view, that’s a VR, with immersive effects like wind, rain, breeziness, etc.

4. Wireframing or low fidelity prototyping – sketching.

[Day 4] Research part was done, and we started with the pen-paper sketching. We got a few blueprints of the application compatible devices, and we divided the work into each team member equally. As all of us had certain screens to sketch about.

And to make the sketches work, there is a mobile application called POP 2.0, which is available in Google Play Store – no charges too. Basically, this application uses the snaps of the screens we sketched and add the button effects to make the snaps as a single component – kind of a low fidelity prototype.

Meanwhile, for the immersive effect, we tried to integrate a hardware tool with a VR device. And the device is – a small toy fan which also sprinkles water – HAHA, not so funny – it’s prototype dude, and anything is fair in love, war, and prototype. So, I was designing the layout for the hardware part and ended up with a mask kind of device that covers half of the face and a fan can be easily fit in it.

5. Rapid Prototyping

[Day 5] Pre-final phase of the application building process. We worked on a high fidelity prototype of the application using One of my teammate – Ankur (a UI designer) holds an expertise in it, though it was the first time he was using this tool. And I was working on the hardware prototype of the VR integrated device – it’s was very difficult to set the fan in the VR box.

It took us 14 hours (approx) to reach the final product including the presentation slides.

6. Presentation

[Day 6] Finally, it’s show time. All the groups were ready with their products and presentations, so were we. The presentation was fast, as we had to show a demonstration of the application too. And the time frame to present the idea was 8 minutes.

We explained two different scenarios from the user list, one the traveler and other the non-traveler/ less traveler. A showcase of each scenario with the application was made, and the audience and judges really enjoyed the concept.

Eventually, the winter school came to an end with a good south Indian food, a lot of knowledge and goodies, a project, a team, as many connections and memories. Thanks for the read. #WSUX17

Please find my work here –