SRS 200

Assignment 1 -- That Really Bugs Me
Due Monday, September 11, 2006

Assignment Goals

In class, you've seen examples of designs that really annoy us. And some that we really like. Working in teams of two, we'd like you to think up and document at least 15 everyday objects with designs that either get on your nerves or are really helpful. Carry around a digital camera wherever you go so you can capture pictures, video, and audio of examples you see in the world. At least 8 of your 15 examples must be documented with pictures/video. Others can be written on paper. Don't worry if the other member of your team disagrees with you about the usability of an object. Such a disagreement points to an important fact about design: just because you think something is designed well does not mean everybody else thinks the same way.

For each item you document, describe why it bugs you or pleases you. Your descriptions, where appropriate, should talk about the affordances, visibility, feedback, conceptual models, and/or mappings that the objects provide. Here are two examples:

Water cooler spigot. The spigot above provides a poor affordance. The part that sticks out towards the user appears to be the place from where the water comes. But this is incorrect. Water comes from below. I got the carpet wet the first time I used this.

10 hot dogs, 8 buns. Hot dogs are packaged in groups of 10 while buns are packaged in groups of 8. This is a mapping problem. One hot dog should go with one bun and they should be sold in equal quantities. I hate leftover hot dogs.

What to Turn In

  1. A report listing each artifact with your description, pictures, video, and audio files. Turn this in via email by class time on the due date. Send your reports to Chris (

  2. Presentation -- Pick 2 items that are documented with pictures or video and present them on the due date. Choose ones that are most interesting to you. Each team will have 5 minutes to present, and all members of the team should do some talking. Feel free to show Powerpoint slides, pass around pictures, or bring in the actual artifact.

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