English 402: Technical and Professional Writing
     Instructor: Bryan Fry
     Office: Avery 371
     Office Hours: By Appointment

    Document Redesign Project (see rubric)


The end product of this assignment is the redesign of the Degree Audit Report System (DARS) printout. If you've ever tried to read this report, you have an idea of how difficult it is to comprehend. You will redesign this report so that it is easier to read, understand, and process. Your redesigned report must contain the same amount of information as the original one, but present the content in an attractive format that even beginning users can understand. Your audience for the redesign is the first-time student user.

To accomplish this redesign, you must consider the elements of design (proximity, alignment, repetition, and contrast) found in NDDB. Using the design principles and the information you've already studied about use of type, you will be able to improve the DARS drastically. It is important to emphasize that this is a redesign project and I want to see major changes from the original DARS report.

You will accomplish this assignment in teams of two people. To showcase the redesign, each team will complete an oral presentation and a written report. The presentation and the report must include the results of at least two usability tests.

    Usability Testing

Generally speaking, usability testing is defined as the ease with which a specific audience can learn and use a product. Your book has a good section (Chapter 3) on usability which we will supplement with information from Jacob Nielson.

To complete your usability testing, you must first conduct an audience analysis and initial usability testing with at least three first-time users. During this stage of audience analysis, you need to find out how well the current DARs report is working for your audience and what more they would like to be able to get out of the report. For information on how to conduct usability testing (see p. 37-39 of CG). Make sure to use both qualitative and quantitative testing methods.
You will repeat your usability testing once you have redesigned the report. The results of these reports should indicate that you have improved the usability of the DARS report. If not, you should consider revising (or reimagining) your redesign. Although this assignment only calls for two usability tests (pre-and post-design), you are welcome to make final revisions and conduct a third test to increase the credibility of your work.

You must include the results of your usability testing in both your oral and written reports.

    Written Report

The written project will be a report that includes the original DARS report, the redesigned DARS report, and a written overview of the project in the format of a traditional business report. Your report will have a persuasive bent, since your goal in writing the report is to convince the DARS Oversight Committee (DOC) to adopt your redesign. Assume that the hypothetical DOC is made up of faculty, staff (from the office of student records), and students.

Chapter 12 will be our guide for writing the reports. Make sure to incorporate numerous headings (Introduction, DARS Analysis, First Usability Testing, Redesign, Second Usability Testing, Final Results, etc.) to make the report organized and easy to search through. You should also incorporate figures throughout the report (we will discuss this more in class).

    Oral Presentation

The oral presentation will include an overview of your redesign project and should showcase your final DARS redesign. You must present the redesigned DARS report using PowerPoint or Prezi. Both members of your team must participate. Your goal in the oral presentation, as in the written report, is to convince the DOC to adopt your redesign. Dress code for this presentation is business casual.

    More Details on the Written and Oral Report

    Grading (DARS Grading Rubric)

You will receive a team grade on this project as well as an individual grade. The team grade will be based on the design (worth 30% ), the oral report (worth 25%), the written report (worth 30%), and a colleague evaluation (worth 15%). The overall project is worth 20% of your grade for the course.

Back to Schedule