MHCI Capstone Project
This website describes the process, outcome, and rationale of the 2007 CMU MHCI capstone project on social-event planning sponsored by Google. The Fiesta system is integrated in Gmail and helps groups of friends have an easier time planning “casual events,” get-togethers in the next few days. The system is the result of a five-person, eight-month effort of research, iterative design, prototyping, and user-testing. Among the final deliverables for the project is an interactive Flash prototype that simulates the core part of the system.
The initial research phase of the project comprised a broad exploration of the world of event planning which resulted in a well-founded decision to focus on “casual events.” A subsequent initial design and in-depth research phase resulted in detailed models of the process of “casual social event planning,” as well as six key needs that are fundamental to a system facilitating this process.
With the key needs as design guidelines, we set out to find a set of key opportunities for improving the casual planning process. This resulted in a set of validated concepts that – if implemented – would add a unique and powerful value to our system. Conducting rounds of wireframe design and testing and think-aloud user tests with paper prototypes and eventually an interactive Flash prototype led to further iterations and a solid interface design, the core of which is implemented in the interactive prototype.
The resulting system is an extension of Gmail that better allows people to plan casual events with their friends, whether they are Gmail users or not. For a given event, friends are able to gradually define the different elements of the event: Who (invited members), What (activity), Where (location), When (date and time), and Don't Forget (supplementary critical information). The creator of the event will have control over setting these fields, but essentially all participants collaboratively plan the event through the Discussion Area (and by using Suggestions).
The Fiesta system supports communication through several different modalities in order to adapt to the varied needs of users. They can receive communication through Gmail/external e-mail, mobile phone, instant-messaging client, or pop-up messages on their computer. They can also receive alerts and reminders about the event via these different modalities.
The Fiesta system also allows events to be added to a digital or online calendar once the user sets a date for the event. Additionally, the creator of the event may use Google Maps to provide an address for the event's location, allowing participants to easily obtain directions.
Finally, to support users while they are physically on their way to the event, the system includes mobile access which allows people to get directions to an event via their cellphones or to text-message others involved in the event. This last feature can be very helpful when needing to notify friends of last-minute changes.
Our final project solution fully supports the process of casual social-event planning. The system supports planning casual events in a better way than any of its competitors, and finds a common ground among the advantages of planning using phone, e-mail, and face-to-face communication. We feel that a very large part of the internet-using population could use the Fiesta system to manage a significant part of their social life.
This project was part of a course at the Carnegie Mellon University Human-Computer Interaction Institute. The designs and concepts presented are ideas created by us, the students, for educational purposes, and do not represent any current or future Google product.
Google retains all existing copyrights.