UX Case Study: OnCE Tablet Application

Our take on solving group project problems and help them collaborate in a better way.


As a graduate student, I want to understand how to project teams collaborate, to have efficient workflow and increase productivity.


Helping graduate and undergraduate students manage their team projects, avoid wasting time asking about each other’s availability and collaborating through different devices.


  • Have you even been in a situation where you are asking people about their availability?
  • Do you wonder why is it so difficult to find a common time to meet?
  • Once you agree to a standard meeting time, do you have trouble collaborating with everyone working on their screens and you are not able to see it?

It gets worst when you have to turn laptops and pass it around to everyone.

We the team of HCI graduate students at Indiana University, Indianapolis are trying to solve this problem. Let’s begin!

Users and Audience

Our primary users were graduate and undergraduate students who were involved in team projects at Indiana University — Purdue University, Indianapolis (IUPUI).

Ultimately, our aim was to design it for all the students working in teams.

Team and My Role

The team consisted of four MS in Human Computer Interaction students from School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI.

Each of us had an opportunity to be the facilitator and be a note taker while conducting contextual interviews. As a part of the team, we divided the task among us so that everyone can equally contribute to the project.

How it all happened?

Initial task was to find pain points and breaks in students’ day-to-day workflow. We took it upon ourselves and leveraged the opportunity at hand; we approached a group of undergraduate students working in a group and asked if they will allow us to observe them. The session lasted for almost forty minutes where we learned that the team is having issue collaborating among themselves.
A place where our participants would meet for team meetings.

Following the pattern, we approached another team to allow us to observe them. Well, unlike the previous team, this team was not shy to be in the photo.

Working on the extra large screen. Cool, isn’t it?

After this, we had one more team observation and the notes from these observations were consolidated. We were able to conduct three contextual interviews. Which brings us to the topic of constraints.


I believe most of the design projects have constraints of some or the other kind. We did not have enough time to run more observations due to the timely deliverables required for the projects. We still were able to gather substantial information from the three observations we did.

Design Process

Our goal was to have a system in place for the academic project teams to work and collaborate effectively. A strong understanding of the problems faced by the users’ during our contextual inquiries was discovered. All the notes from the different observations were brought together and with some hours of brainstorming, we came up with an affinity diagram to understand the structure and broader themes.

Affinity Diagram

During the observation the participants said…

Sometimes when using the big screen, I would lose the cursor and while finding it, accidentally close the application, losing all the work. It’s frustrating!

One participant used Microsoft Word because it offered more features than Google Docs. Another user pointed out, communication is a big problem

All my friends use different IMs and that is why it is very difficult to find one common source to communicate.

We understood these problems, participants added that solving equations on a computer program is slows them down as find those symbols is a big challenge. They preferred to use paper and pencil.

Key highlights of the issues faced by participants

  • Accidentally closing the application losing all the data
  • Not able to collaborate as the application is not on cloud.

Moving further

To get more detailed understanding, we generated consolidated work models

Flow Model | Sequence Model | Cultural Model

These models helped us better understand the overall system.


Based on the scenarios, we started drawing the storyboards

Storyboard allowed us to have a clear vision how our concept application will work. Moving ahead, we started with paper prototypes.

Paper Prototypes

We decided to settle down on the tablet interface assuming students can afford the tablets.

Once the paper prototypes were ready, we tested them with three teams and did two iterations on designs as we received feedback.

High Fidelity Screens

Retrospective and Lessons Learned

  1. The timeframe for the project was tight and if there was more time, I would have spent more time interviewing and observing different teams in different work spaces to gather as in depth understanding of the users.
  2. We could have sought expert opinion during our brainstorming sessions. Unfortunately, expert user was unavailable in given timeframe.
  3. I feel that some decisions during the project might have been influenced due to the lack of time.
  4. I did learn to work under constraints while still being focused on the end goal

The complete report can be found here, Once — UX Case Study