Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Week 4: In-Class Exercise - Creating Prototypes for Alarm Clock

In-class we closely looked at horizontal, vertical and diagonal prototypes, discussed their distinctive features and reviewed their applicability depending what has to be tested (see the diagram below).

Image credit: DECO7230: Lecture 4 Slides
Our task is to do design and describe a vertical, a horizontal and a diagonal prototypes for an alarm clock application for a smartphone.
This alarm clock app has the following features:
1)    it allows setting, editing and deleting several alarms;
2)    it can daisy-chain alarms - if one is allowed to ring out, another is activated automatically;
3)    it allows setting various tones for different alarms;
4)    it makes the phone snoozing when the user shakes it.
Now let’s closely look at each type of prototype.
Type of Prototype: Horizontal.
General overview:
A horizontal prototype usually provides a broad view of the product and its features and focuses on user interaction and user interface rather than on low-level system functionality. Usually it doesn’t include any processing logic behind the external features.
Basically, a horizontal prototype is created for identifying the scope of project requirements or showing the external features of the system (dialogue boxes. menus, reports, screens, windows, etc.) which are used for communicating the understanding of the requirement.
Horizontal prototype for alarm clock app:
It describes the main app’s interface without digging into its functions in detail.
As such - this prototype should have the main icons available for navigation: 
  • Add/edit Alarms, 
  • Set ringtones.
Type of Prototype: Vertical.
General overview:
In contrast to a horizontal prototype, a vertical one doesn’t focus on showing all system functionality, it rather concentrates on implementing some specific features in a nearly-complete fashion.
It’s usually used when a particular system feature is hardly understood and needs to be explained in more details.
A vertical prototype consists of both user functionality and access to data which means that a user can view a “working” (but not fully functional or tuned) system.
Vertical prototype for alarm clock app can show how a user can carry out either one of the functions:
      set different tones for alarms;
      set digital or analogue time view style;
      enable or disable snoozing;
      set date, hours, minutes and seconds of a particular alarm.

Type of Prototype: Diagonal.
General overview:
A diagonal prototype is a kind of mixture of the above mentioned types - it is horizontal down to a specific level and then vertical below that level. Unlike vertical and horizontal prototypes, this one might show less details than above mentioned types but might provide an overview of one specific task or a process within the application.
Such a prototype may display how to edit dates and times when the alarm should ring.
Concluding Thoughts
Thanks to this session we’ve got a better understanding of different types of prototypes and know how to apply them depending on the goal we’re challenged to reach.

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