Second project milestone: Define


The goal of this milestone is to solidify a problem description, identify a design direction, generate personas, and do a small literature review.

1. Problem Description

Your team started with a project topic which may have been vague and/or broad. You then gathered and analyzed rich qualitative data in the Empathize milestone in order to better understand and clarify a problem that might benefit from interactive technology. Based on that work and the feedback you have received from your instructors and peers, you now need to clearly identify the specific human behaviour/activity/practice which your proposed interactive system is intended to support and succinctly say why it is in need of support (what the problem is). This is intended to both motivate and scope the next stages of your work. A good problem description clearly identifies: the population being targeted, the specific human behaviour/activity/practice in need of support, and justifies briefly why support is needed.

Length: Your problem description should be one crisply written paragraph in your milestone report. [Note that your paragraph should be written such that it is understandable by someone outside of the class (i.e., unfamiliar with your project).]

2. Possible Design Direction

The Empathize milestone concluded with design implications / key takeaways. You may have begun to consider a  design direction, but that was not required. At this point, you do need to identify a specific high-level design approach that you expect will be feasible for addressing the problem, and briefly explain why you believe the approach could work. Use images or figures to clarify your suggested approach where appropriate. This will include details like the general platform for your interactive system (e.g., desktop application, mobile device app, kiosk, wearable) and the high-level “feel” of interaction. It is too early for a low-level design (e.g., a specific graphical user interface layout), but a detailed description of the design direction is required.

You should note any additional infrastructure (software, hardware or other materials) that you expect you might need for your system during this course project and identify where it might come from (course staff, personal stocks, other?). Of course this may evolve and change in a later stage of the project.

Length: Your design direction should be at most one half page of text, and up to one page if images are included.

3. Personas

Identify the people or users who you will be designing for by creating personas based on the analysed result of your various data gathering techniques in your ethnographic research. Each team needs to create two personas – primary and secondary are recommended – that communicate different types of users and their needs.

Reality check: Normally you would create more personas, often 4-5, including an anti-persona.

Each persona should be derived from your qualitative research, especially the behavioural patterns observed during interviews and observations of users. Your personas should, as best possible, represent the diversity of observed motivations, behaviours, attitudes, aptitudes, constraints, work or activity flows, environments, and frustrations when doing the activity you are intending to support or when using relevant current products or systems. Follow the Steps 1-6 for constructing persona as introduced in Alan Cooper’s book, and include: a description, the behavioural variables, narrative and photo for each persona as mentioned in Step 8. You must also briefly (in a few sentences) clarify how each persona came from your the data. You can optionally include an appendix with further details about how your data supports the persona, if needed.

Length: Each persona should be about half a page and up to one page in length.

4. Literature Review

Do a search online on your chosen problem and design direction. You can begin by searching commercial websites and you should then search in the research literature. This will allow you to assess the novelty of your design idea and set your idea in the context of what exists already and what has been proposed in the research community. For the research literature, key sources include: the HCI Bibliography (Link), the ACM digital library (Link) and Google Scholar (Link). As a starting point, try to find at least five pieces of related work (from general online sources and the research literature). You should cite any sources that you use in your report (e.g., for quotes, general reference, or images), including books, magazines, journals, and URLs in your bibliography. A good literature review synthesizes the related work (does not simply summarize it) and briefly clarifies how the planned design direction is related.

Length: Your literature review should be about one-half page in length.

Additionally you need to include a bibliography of the cited references. Any clear, professional citation style is acceptable, e.g., APA style (Link).


There is no presentation for the Define milestone.

For your report, include in an appendix that identifies each team member’s contributions.

Format: 2 column CHI format:

You can choose any of their templates:

Microsoft Word Template for Papers

LaTeX Template for Papers

Teams need to submit a pdf of their report to gradescop. Please give your pdf file the name “Define-report-.pdf”


Problem definition (clearly and crisply written, human activity/practice identified, need for support substantiated)-4 points
Design direction (approach identified accompanied by justification, supporting images/figures as appropriate)-4 points
Three personas (appropriately chosen, grounded in the data (and link between personas and data is made clear), described in right amount of detail, salient variables are addressed within each persona, image included)-12 points
Literature review (minimum of 5 appropriate references included, some should be from academic literature, well synthesized into coherent review, making it clear how the intended design direction is related)-4 points
Appendix – Team members contribtions (done and with sufficient detail)-1 point
Appendix – bibliography in appropriate and consistent citation style-2 points 
Total: 27 Points