Cosc 3p94 Course Project
(Due date for assignment is Monday March 4th
noon, Lates Accepted until March 6th
Real Estate has been a hot topic for a number of years. Many Real
Estate agencies like Century 21 host a very sophisticated website.
However, there is a do it yourself market where seller and buyers
can come together, these are typically called Com-free (commission
free) Realtors. Sites such as Purplebricks.ca are one such site
where an interested seller can use their system to list a home
with expertise help along the way. After all, we are selling
something of significant value. Thus, there must be protections in
place not only for the seller, but also the buyer. Consider the
case where a home which was NOT for sale by the home owner, was
put up for sale.
Goals of the Assignment:
Lets take a look at how existing do it yourself (DIY) Real Estate
sites work. For the purpose of this project let us define a new
Consider how the buyers and sellers deal with this task. Let us
assume we are going to provide a website allows a buyer, seller,
agent, and possibly other actors in the system to realize a common
goal. These goals will be different for each actor. E.g. Buyer and
Seller will obviously buy and sell a home. The Real Estate Agent
will need to be brought into this some how, since they will have a
function in the process.
This stage will be an investigation of existing entities which
might be considered useful for the new website.
Thinking ahead, Stage 2 will consist of a mock implementation of
your design ideas. This implies a fully functional system taking
into account all components of the system but is brain dead. That
is, only the interface is considered, all else is ignored. Stage 3
will be a mutual evaluation of other group projects. Stage 4,
correct your mistakes, implement that last feature, and present it
to your instructor at a time of your choosing during the exam
The following requirements detail the spirit of what is required
for this stage. Although the listed requirements give the major
sections, which need to be covered, it is the groups
responsibility to adequately expand each to a level appropriate
for comprehensive assessment of the interface. Marks are not only
allocated to fulfilling the stage requirements, but also for
project quality and depth.
- You will need to discover the user(s) requirements for
the purpose of your software implementation. You will be
required to create a new system devoid of any short comings
while also providing for the user(s) goals when using such a
system. It is imperative that a full and complete discovery is
made. Issues which need to be addressed but not limited to, are:
- The role of each Actor.
- Security, don't want someone selling a house which does not
belong to them for example.
- What services are presented. (think of these as content)
- User input. (in some cases a uses will need to provide, be
active with the interface).
- Tools to personalize the experience.
- Organization and layout
- User experience.
- Any thing else which might be of use to individuals or
- For the purpose of this project management has requested a
As part of your overall analysis,
you will need to determine what is important and what is not
important. This will be done by carefully selecting those
goals/tasks which users find useful. As well, you do not need to
create a system which has every conceivable feature, i.e. the
Microsoft way. But, one that will make a user 100% happy to use
your system. E.g. from an individuals point of view, can I
find/do/"achieve my goal without having to resort to google.
Will the system conform/adapt to my needs.
- Start by exploring existing websites. Choose at least 2 others
for analysis, 3 might be better. Make a list of the
services which are provided by these. There will likely be many
things in common as well as differences.
- Take screen shots of each interface for illustration purposes.
Use the HTA software provided to
create a map of the front end of each. Limit the HTA to only the
control portion of the interface. Choose a suitable cutoff. This
will describe what a user does on the system and how they do it.
This is the doing part. Don't worry about content just
control. What currently exists in the navigation structure.
- Add a KLM for each of the above. These are added in Visual
HTA. This will give you a sense of how efficient/complex each
interface is at accomplishing the goals. For example, what does
a person need to do after they wish to make a purchase.
- Without looking at the interface or widget implementation but
just at the "Tasks" the system implements, the behaviour. Write
a short critique of each site, highlighting what each
application did, and point out any deficiencies (problems you
have encountered) you might have found. Keep each critique to
about 1 page. Contrast, common tasks such as editing out video
as an example.
- You need to find something out about the users of these
systems. Determine the goals of the users by conducting a
survey, interviews and/or observation. Determine what the users
need and want. Collect information regarding the tasks which
they (would) perform when involved in interacting with the
system. What makes users happy, and frustrated with these kinds
of systems. See handout "Web Usability - A user centred design
approach". What do users need? Prepare a survey or use
some other means to collect relevant information. Note: 25 user surveys minimum are
required, but be warned, there are many different types of
users, e.g. Student, staff/faculty, public ... Be sure you save
all raw data. Note: parents or those who have bought or sold
Real Estate are good information sources.
- Based on the surveys and user profiles (remember this is very
important). Determine the goals of the users. Create a set of
Personas which exemplify your user population supported by your
research of the user and their domain. When creating the
personas, ensure you brainstorm the possible users of the
system. After the initial persona development has taken place,
sort and group the personas. What are the primary personas?
Justify your decision. When submitting be sure to include the
intermediate rough work, this to - will be used for
evaluation. Create a condensed sheet which describes the
important personas which will be used to drive the design.
- When identifying the primary persona, argue what behaviour
or results must be achieved in order to capture the primary
persona group. What factors affect the secondary personas, and
- From a technology perspective, where and what will the
interface be presented on. A website, app?
- Create a storyboard of the new design. Use a screen painter,
to map out the major components. What metaphors, and conceptual
design ideas support the design?
Things you should/could do
- Take pictures (cell phone, or digital camera) to help document
- Use the breakout (J328) room to hold meetings.
- Use a focus group setting. Invite other 3P94 groups to join
in. In fact a focus group of 3P94 groups is not a bad idea. But
consider bringing users into the group to avoid the Homo Logicus
- Consider students outside of Cosc. Yes there is a world beyond
J-Block. This means, talk to the community of potential users.
Note: most students have not bought or sold a home, you
need to go to those who have.
- Use those means as described in the readings to acquire the
- There are no penalties for borrowing ideas from other groups
or sources. Ensure you cite the sources.
- There are penalties for using other group's assignment related
material. E.g. 2 groups performing 1 survey then splitting the
results. Bad, very bad! That breaches the spirit of what this
course is about.
- If you are concerned or require direction then run it by me.
- There may be a sizable number of documents which need to be
made available to all members of the group. Consider some cloud
based resources to exchange and manage your information. E.g.
What you should and shouldn't do
Because of the workload involved start early. Starting 3 days before
it is due, is a recipe for disaster. You will need time to map
things out, look at it, and make decisions regarding what you have
found. This takes time. Talking to users at the last minute is
almost useless. The quality of the result thus depends on the time
spent thinking, gathering and analyzing. Surveys need time to
prepare, apply and sort out.
Do not look at the requirements as a set of steps that need to be
completed linearly or independent of one another. The order is
roughly congruent to the expected process to complete this
assignment. However, when dealing with any analysis and design, an
iterative process is always inherent. Sitting down with pencil and
paper, talking about process is certainly suggested. This is best
done before you are tainted by an existing system.
The report you generate should be:
- Complete and comprehensive, see above for requirements.
- Word processed where appropriate.
- Neat diagrams and figures if needed, embedded screen shots
or photos maybe useful.
- Sectioned and well prepared document.
- Survey forms, raw data and extracted information in some
neat and easy to read format
- Use a binder. (tables of contents, sections, etc.)
- Group coverpage.
Marks will be awarded for completeness and thoroughness of your
analysis as well as submission format, spelling, grammar etc.
There will be a portion of marks awarded to groups which show
due diligence. This is a subjective mark based on overall
quality of the project. Minimal effort regardless of weather
assignment objectives have been met or not will be identified
from quality projects. You can expect at least 20% of the mark
will be purely subjective.