Project 3: The Redesign

It is a rare and lucky designer who gets to start a design from scratch. Most of our work is putting lipstick on pigs, and giving the pigs etiquette lessons. In this project, we’ll take a current application and use visual design and insights from testing to make it better. “Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien” - Voltaire.


  1. Pick your team!
  2. Pick your poison!
    • Seafood Watch (recommended as we have materials about the design intent)
    • Stanford Financial Aid website
    • A small defined part of Stanford Axess
    • A small defined part of Canvas
    • Stanford ePay
    • SUPost
    • CS GIN
    • your pick, but ask your studio leads for approval. Consider small dedicated apps or websites that are doing good for the world, poorly.
  3. Pick your users! Clarify to yourself: there are many possible users of each system. Who are the ones you are focusing on here?

Part 1: Evaluate

First we’ll do usability testing on our project and two competitors. What is wrong with the current system? Is there a better way to do the job they are setting out to do?

Bonus: interview the creators. In life, often the people who made the original decisions are long gone. But sometimes they are still around. See if you can find them!

Due Studio 8B. Bring your raw observations from usability testing, so we can synthesize in studio.

Due Studio 9A. Bring moodboard, three to four visual directions (one per team member) and a jointly authored final Style Tile.

Part 2: Ideate

We’ll come up with multiple “hypotheses” about better designs, including a Dark Horse: an idea so crazy no one thinks it will work.

Due Studio 9B. Bring 3 Low-fi prototypes to share (either paper or POP) for peer-critique. In studio, we'll have a prototype fair/ambassador testing.

Part 3: Iterate

We’ll then use heuristics and critique to bring this final design to an exquisite perfect. Or at least make it pretty darn good.

First, you'll make a medium fidelity prototype, using software such as invision or marvel. Add your new brand look and feel to this prototype! Then run another usability test with 5-8 people to make sure you've improved things. See RITE method to quickly evolve our leading contenders.

Due Studio 10A. Bring a higher resolution version (add brand style and refine interaction. e.g. Sketch + Invision/Marvel) and usability test it.

Part 4: Elevate

Finally, in studio, we'll take a polish pass to make sure the new version is as beautiful as it is usable.

Due Studio 10B. DEMO DAY! Be prepared to present your methodology and show your final prototype. 5 minutes total presentation time.


Present in the final studio: a SHORT deck (3-5 minutes) on:

  • Current problems with the application you chose
  • Your methodology for solving the issues
  • Demo of solution (clickable prototype)

On Canvas, submit a PDF with your work and ideas documented. Be sure to explain your process. This overview should be no longer than 10-15 slides/pages. If you wish to include supporting materials, please do so in an appendix. Part of design is know what NOT to include. Be thoughtful in telling your story. Less really is more.

Final documentation contents:

  • Research: Your documentation of the usability study and learnings from RITE.
  • Solutions to current design problems: Your description of the design you ended up choosing, and why. Include explorations from style tiles to dark horses. Don't forget to tell use why you made the decision you did.
  • Final Prototype and final solution description: Your description of your final design, why it is the right solution, and a link to your prototype

A short checklist of considerations for your final submission:


  • Are all my images readable or/and explained?
  • Have I trimmed off any extraneous bit from my images, like background, blue tape, spiral notebook binding, etc? We should only look at the image.
  • Did I tell my audience what to look at and why it matters? (don't show things just to prove you did it. Show things to prove you made your point.)
  • Have I have more than one person look it over for errors and clarity? i.e. not just spelling, but am I making sense?
  • Have I made an argument for my point of view, or am I delivering a checklist of activities? (the second is not what you want.)
  • Have I communicated my learnings from the process?
  • Am I using font and color in a subdued yet effective way to communicate the project's insights?
  • Is there a design system for my document that allows me to communicate hierarchy of importance and support readability?
  • Is my product brand reflected in my documentation?
Submit on Canvas on Friday 11:59PM.

Grading rubric

This rubric will apply to the final submission. We put it here from the start so that you can see how the intermediate parts play into the final evaluation.

Category Scores
[1 / 7pts]
Usability Study & RITE does not correctly follow the method or is nonexistent
[3 / 7pts]
Usability Study & RITE is incomplete or does not derive insights
[5 / 7pts]
Usability Study & RITE is complete but focuses on surface-level insights
[7 / 7pts]
Usability Study & RITE uncovers nontrivial insights and leads to significant improvement
[1 / 7pts]
Design is incomplete or does not address the problems
[3 / 7pts]
Design does not address all problems found, or creates new ones
[5 / 7pts]
Design is solid, and addresses key problems.
[7 / 7pts]
Design represents a creative, effective resolution of problems
[1 / 7pts]
Sloppy and/or incomplete work. Broken links, spelling errors, etc.
[3 / 7pts]
Design has some significant usability errors and/or poor aesthetic choices (unfortunate stock art, bad font or color choices that were address in critique)
[5 / 7pts]
Design solves for usability but does not elevate the aesthetic quality, or is prettier but still hard to use.
[7 / 7pts]
Design has high polish: easy to use and easy on the eyes.

If any of the deliverables are missing, we will reduce your score by 25% per deliverable.