Software and algorithms tend to embed the values of society into their design - a term that Batya Friedman and Helen Nissenbaum dub "pre-existing bias." The result is that technology is designed for an "unmarked" user that occupies a high rung in the matrix of domination (Sasha-Costanza Chock, 2020). For this project, you will take a deep dive into a specific software app and evaluate the assumptions embedded therein and design a new version of the app. You will conduct user interviews and complete at least one round of user feedback.

Project Requirements

Similar to the bodies project, we will consider the three steps in our design process, and expand on some of the work we did before.


For this project, you will:

  1. select a software app to study and propose improvements for (see proposed topics below)
  2. analyze the affordances and signifiers of the design (contextualize)
  3. research and report on the evolution of the design over time (contextualize)
  4. analyze affordance perceptibility and availability, anti- and dysaffordances, including who benefits from the design and who is harmed (critique)
  5. draft questions for users or potential users of your target application (critique and rebuild)
  6. interview users on their experience using apps or similar apps (critique and rebuild)
  7. mockup designs for how to improve the app you chose (rebuild)
  8. conduct at least one round of user testing (rebuild)
  9. (if time) incorporate details of user critique into your final product (critique and rebuild)
  10. submit a written report outlining the above
  11. present the report details to the class in a short, in class presentation

Potential proposed topics: