Welcome to 6.1040 Software Design!

In this class, you’ll go beyond coding and learn how to design software that is elegant, powerful and flexible. In addition to classic software design and UX techniques, you’ll learn two new approaches: concept design, a way to structure software functionality more effectively, and value-sensitive design, a framework for thinking about te social and ethical implications.

This website will host all the important material, including the class schedule, assignments, lecture and recitation notes, etc. Make sure to read the class guide which explains the purpose and structure of the class and its expectations, and check out the FAQ. The resource page contains helpful advice on technology resources.

The Canvas site will be used only to send you assignment feedback and grades, and we’ll keep the calendar synced with the schedule on the main website so you can see events for all your classes here. Any important announcements will be sent to you by email.


Fourth week.

— Before the recitation, you should have completed the third prep.

Highlighting Student Submissions

The following assignments were selected from your peers’ submissions to showcase exemplary examples of Assignment 1 submissions. We have also included in depth comments as to why they represent excellence.

Student Assignment 1 Link Comments
Jin Gao link The hunch was specific and non-obvious, exploring a niche while also choosing interviewees (actual beekeepers) that would be the main target audiences for the app. From there, the analysis of interview results considered important tradeoffs and also considered the modality in which beekeepers would be actually interacting with the app. Specifically, the Accessibility design opportunity takes into account the environments in which farmers would actually be using the app (the outdoors, where the light and equipment that users might have on can cause screens to be harder to seen).
Hannah Kimura link Hunch identifies an extremely relevant problem – athletic connections. Selected interviewees that were not only related to the general theme of the hunch, but also have actually struggled with the issue identified in the hunch. Rich set of interview questions that profoundly explore the design space of the hunch. Analysis went above and beyond in identifying tensions and tradeoffs between both participants and how, although the participants were somewhat similar, they represented to very different user bases and user needs. Design opportunities directly addressed needs identified in the interview analyses – even subtle needs, like a feature that allows players to choose whether they are looking for casual play or more serious game play.
Lucy Kim link Very relevant interviewee selection (2 dancers of vastly varying backgrounds) for dance-related hunch. Questions were very insightful – touched on their background in dance as well as how they currently use social media for their dance career/hobby. Design opportunities were clear, relevant, and there was very explicit mentioning of how these DOs tie into issues the interviewees discussed, and how these DOs attempt to solve them. DO #1 (Progress tracking) is a great example–this idea is creative and not overly straightforward. It addresses how watching one’s self is the reported best way to get better at dancing, but there are few social media features that encourage this. It then ties this into specific evidence from the interview, and how the feature would address the issues discussed.
Joseph Ye link Super detailed and thoughtful justification for why interviewees were chosen, and both interviewees have a unique perspective. The interview summary contained insightful analysis that supported the design opportunities identified, and the design opportunities were creative and well-thought-out. Joseph’s analysis of the value of authenticity to his interviewees was especially strong; he explored the tension between authenticity and curated content, as well as the ways in which Wilson’s responses inidcate that AI contributes to inauthentic content, drawing in quotes and specific examples from his interview with Wilson. Joseph then laid out his design priorities based on his analysis of his interviewee’s responses and how their need for authenticity could be best supported by an app.

First week.

— Our first class is at 2.30pm on Wednesday Sep 6 in 1-190. The first recitation is on Thursday Sep 7; you can pick any session from the list on the website.

— Before the recitation, you should have completed the first prep.

— We have a Discourse forum for discussions about the class. If you have any questions that aren’t answered by the FAQ, post them there and we’ll respond soon. (You should be able to sign up for the forum with any MIT, Wellesley or Harvard email address.)