INF 385P - Usability
The basics of user-centered design through the lifecycle of a software product. Includes perceptual, psychological, and other scientific underpinnings of usability and the justification for the application of usability engineering in software development. Three lecture hours a week for one semester.
The rapid expansion of the Internet and e-commerce has brought
software usability engineer- ing into prominence. As more and
more information exists in electronic form (and sometimes ONLY in
electronic form), the storage and retrieval of information is
increasingly a human-com- puter interface (HCI) design problem.
As computing oozes into every nook of citizenry, it’s
increasingly important for software developers, and indeed any
web site developers, NOT to depend on their own intuitions as to
what designs are likely to be seen as usable. The way web and
other user interface designers and developers address this
intentionally is by pursu- ing a course of “user-centered
design” (UCD). UCD involves employing a collection of usabili-
ty engineering methods across the life-cycle of a software
The class will cover three major areas:
1. the perceptual, cognitive, and other scienti c underpinnings
2. the usability engineering methods used in the pursuit of UCD,
3. the justi cation for the application of usability engineering
in a software development proj- ect.
The course will entail four major instructional techniques:
1. lecture on the scienti c underpinnings and the methods of
2. exercises, to demonstrate the use of such methods,
3. individual usability engineering projects, with the results to
be shared with the class.
The student successfully completing this class will:
- understand aspects of how human beings take in and process
- know what the methods of usability engineering are and have
experience with some of them
- understand why software developers are NOT the end-user
- be able to make the arguments for cost-justifying a
user-centered design approach
- have had exposure to a variety of usability labs,
- know how to carry out a usability evaluation and write a
usability test plan and report.