iDesign Competition 2013

iDesign logo

 Going Mobile



4/23/13 UPDATE MLibrary is pleased to announce the winners of the 2013 iDesign competition!

  • Overall Winner:  Rhea, by Team Library in Hand
  • People's Choice Winner:  In-Map, by Team XVIII

There were 11 teams that entered the 2013 iDesign competition. View all the team submissions at



MLibrary and the UM School of Information (UMSI) challenge YOU to design an innovative tool to make MLibrary more mobile. Final submissions (see details below) are due Monday, March 18th! The winning team gets $2000.*

*Please be aware that accepting any award, prize or gift may impact your financial aid. The value of any such award must be reported to the U-M Office of Financial Aid. For details, please email or call 734-763-6600. 


The Challenge

Design a system to make MLibrary resources or services more mobile. Interpret 'mobility' as broadly as you choose -- this doesn't have to be tied to phones. Sample project ideas include:

  • Responsive designs for library web systems
  • Finding physical items within the collection
  • Geotagging of image collections
  • Anything else you can come up with!

Looking for past user research for ideas?  Check it out:



Any UM student or team of students


How it Works

Step One

Teams (one or more students) should submit their initial proposals to by Monday, Dec 17th. The initial proposal should be a 1-2 page prospectus outlining generally what your project idea is. It should include:

  • An explanation of the problem you are attempting to solve
  • How generally you plan to solve it
  • What user group you are targeting (ex. your target user group may be everybody, students of a particular discipline, users with visual impairments, faculty members...)
  • Questions that you need answered for your design
  • The names of your team members (you may still make adjustments to your team after you submit your proposal)

Feel free to include rough sketches if you have any, but they are not required in the proposal.

Step Two

After initial proposals are submitted, each team will be given a mentor to guide them through technical limitations and other complications as they develop their designs. Teams will be requied to meet with their mentor at least once to discuss their projects.

Step Three

Final designs will be due on Monday, March 18th. Your final submission on March 18th should include a link to some kind of project site and a written report on your project (see below for more details). Your project site and written report will be made public so that people can review the projects and vote for the People's Choice Award.  Please submit your written report and a link to your project site to

Written Report

The written report should explain your problem selection, target user group selection, and how your project solves the problem and advances the library's mission. Someone coming to your report without any background knowledge should be able to understand what is the problem you are solving, why it's a problem they should care about, and how your system solves it. Your report may include wireframes, storyboards, or other illustrations of your system's design and interaction. Explain your system as though you were explaining it to an interaction designer--tell us about the reasons behind your design decisions, the benefits and limitations of your design, and what overall you are trying to achieve. There is no length requirement for the report--it should be as long as it needs to be to explain your design. For some systems, this may be accomplished in a few pages; for others, it may require a longer report, especially if wireframes and storyboards are included.

Remember that while the content of the report is most important, writing clarity and quality are also very important. A poorly written report that contains grammatical errors or typos detracts from your overall presentation. Do yourself a favor and be sure to proofread your written report before it is submitted.

Unless it's necessary for communicating your design, you don't need to tell us about your process in the report. For instance, it's sufficient to say that a particular design decision is based on findings from user interviews that you did -- you don't need to tell us if you made an affinity wall to analyze your data. (For clarity: teams are not required to conduct original user research for this contest, but if you do, you can tell us about it.)

If you're having trouble thinking about what the report should include, try thinking about what you would want to see if you were reading someone else's report. What would be important to you to know? What questions would you have that you would want answered?

New requirement 3/13/13

You must include the following language within your report:  "I (we) am (are) the copyright holder(s) of this submission and related materials. I (we) grant the University of Michigan University Library non-exclusive rights to develop designs outlined by competition entry submissions in any and all media, for non-commercial library purposes, with attribution to me (us)."  If you have any questions or concerns about this statement, please email us at

Project Site

The project site should communicate some of the same things as the report. As with the written report, someone coming to your site without any background knowledge should be able to understand what problem you are solving, why it's a problem they should care about, and how your system solves it. Your site should tell us something about your process as well. For instance, if you did that affinity wall, the site is a good place to mention it. (Again: an affinity wall is not required for this contest.) Treat this site as something you could include in your portfolio--show us what you did, why you did it, and what you got out of it.

The site does NOT have to be a working prototype! You should bear in mind that in general, the more fully developed a design is, the more convincing it can be; however, you do not have to actually build the system. Instead of a prototype, for instance, you could show us mockups and point out the features of interest and the design thinking behind them.
The design of the project site itself will not be part of the judging criteria; however, the judges will appreciate your project site being easy to navigate and skim through! The project site does not have to be complicated in order to be skimmable--a wordpress installation or google site would be fine.

Step Four


Teams will present their designs to the judges and the public on Monday, April 8th (time and location to be announced). During the session, each team will have 10-15 minutes including the presentation and Q&A. The presentation session will be open to the public. In the days following the presentation session, judges' evaluations will be reviewed and the winner announced.

As with the report and project site, the presentation should explain what problem you are solving, why it's a problem we should care about, and how your system solves it. Tell us about limitations on your system and any recommendations you have about how to get around those limitations, or if you have suggestions for further work. Your presentation can include any aspects of your project that you think it is important for the judges to know.

Judgment and Prizes

The winning team will receive $2000. The team that wins People's Choice will also receive a monetary award (amount TBA). Designs will be judged by a panel of SI faculty and library affiliates on a variety of criteria, including the following:

  • Problem Selection
    • Does the system address a real need?
    • Does the system perform a valuable function?
    • Does the system highlight the library's collections or services in an interesting way?
    • Does the system make resources/services more easily accessed in more ways or places and/or does it make resources/services more discoverable?
  • System Design
    • Viability in the MLibrary environment -- it doesn't have to be implementable immediately, but it should be within the realm of possibility, and have the potential to help shape future library technological development
    • Usability
    • Aesthetics
    • Accessibility -- the system should be accessible to users with visual or other impairments
    • Originality
    • Completeness -- the system design should be well thought-out
  • Presentation
    • The project site, written submission, and presentation should all effectively communicate the problem you are trying to solve, how your system solves it, and what limitations/challenges your system faces.



Background on iDesign

The iDesign competition is a collaborative effort between UMSI and MLibrary meant to foster creativity, innovation, and collaboration between disciplines. It has been held twice in the past, in 2009 and 2011, with a different theme each year. This year's theme is "Going Mobile".






Page maintained by Ken Varnum
Last modified: 04/26/2013