Usability refers to the factors that make a product, service or other technology systems easy for humans to use and understand. Typically, the more usable a system is, the more efficient the system will be, and the users will be more comfortable and satisfied with their use of the system. Usability considers human factors, ergonomics, psychology, and efficiency, and strives to make something that works for a range of people, without sacrificing functionality.
In this course, students will analyze existing systems and use heuristics to communicate usability standards. Students will also create and test prototypes to understand how usability testing can improve human-computer interactions. This course explores several branches of user experience design, including interaction design, information architecture, navigation, and user needs.
This is a class for those who wish to know more about usability, human-computer interaction, and the psychological aspects of computing.
Upon completion of this course,
you should be able to …
- Describe the intersection between human-centered design process and usability engineering;
- Discuss usability design guidelines, their foundations, assumptions, advantages, and weaknesses;
- Understand the goals and principles of usability testing;
- Assess user interfaces using different usability engineering techniques;
- Understand usability as it relates to mobile devices;
- Design a user interface based on analysis of human needs and prepare a prototype;
- Recognize the pitfalls of relying on developer intuition for judging usable designs.
Some of the work in this course will take place outside of the classroom. Class sessions are a combination of lecture and student-led discussion. It is essential to be present and punctual. Students must have assignments completed when they are due.
To complete the course, participants must
- Attend a minimum of 70% of class sessions
- Complete three assignments
- Score at least 70% on one exam
Please remember that certificates are issued at the discretion of the instructor.
- Evans, David. (2017) Bottlenecks: Aligning UX Design with User Psychology, 1st edition. Apress. 1484225791
- Krug, Steve. (2006) Don’t make me think: A common sense approach to web usability, 2nd edition. New Riders Publishing. 978-0321344755
- Norman, Donald A. (2013) The design of everyday things, revised and expanded edition. Basic Books. 978-0465050659
- Rubin, Jeffrey. ( 2008) Handbook of Usability Testing: How to Plan, Design, and Conduct Effective Tests, 2nd edition. Wiley. 0470185481
- Tufte, Edward. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information; Envisioning Information; Visual Explanations; Visual and Statistical Thinking (booklet); The Cognitive Style of Powerpoint (essay)
Recommended journal articles
- Carroll, J. M. (1997) Human-computer interaction: Psychology as a science of design. Annual Review of Psychology, 48, 61-83. PDF.
- Churchill, E. et al. (2013) Teaching and learning computer-human interaction. Interactions, 44.
Recommended web articles
- 10 Usability Heurestics for User Interface Design, N/N Group
- Best practices in mobile design: creating error messages, User Snap
- Design thinker Don Norman on his stealth startup, Apple vs. Android vs. Microsoft, and experience design, Gigaom
- How to conduct a heuristic evaluation (PDF), Oracle
- Providing Predictable Targets (Fitts’ Law), AskTog
- Turn user goals into task scenarios for usability testing, Jakob Nielsen
- Usability 101: Introduction to usability, N/N Group
- User experience honeycomb, Intertwingled
- UX & Error Messages: stop scaring your uses, Medium
- Web development reading list: form usability, Smashing Magazine
- Website Forms Usability: Top 10 Recommendations, N/N Group
Resources and Tools
- Card Sorting 101 from Optimal Workshop (OptimalSort)
- First Click Testing 101 from Optimal Workshop (Chalkmark)
- PDFs on DropBox
- Amazon interface feature request
- Another reason to avoid “click here” – link rot
- Design tip: the importance of the title tag
- Designing for mobile devices
- Error messages case study: The Seattle Times
- Five clicks to get to a download is at least four too many
- Heurestic violations: application status (aka feedback)
- HTML 101: headings are not about sizes
- Make it easy to contact you
- Remember to check contrast for readability
- Task analysis: register to vote
- Using personas in web development
- Writing effective hyperlinks: critique and recommendations
- HeathCare.gov // early testing
- Rocket Surgery Made Easy by Steve Krug: Usability Demo
- Usability testing of fruit by blinkux
- What is usability testing by Lynda.com
- December 8-15