ICS 667: Advanced Human Computer Interaction Design Methods

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Overview of ICS 667 for Spring 2005

Catalog Description

ICS 667 Advanced HCI Design Methods (3 credits) Advanced analytical and empirical methods for the design and evaluation of usable, useful, and robust human-computer interfaces. Students will apply selected methodologies to a major system design project. Pre: 463 or 465; or consent.

General Introduction

During the past decade, human-computer interaction (HCI) has emerged as a major area of computer science, leading to advances in analytic and empirical methodologies for human interfaces to computer systems. Hands-on experience with these methodologies is important because the majority of the software code in a typical application is for the user interface, and because productivity losses due to poorly designed human-computer interfaces cost many millions each year.

In this course, students will learn analytical and empirical methods for the design and evaluation of usable, useful, and robust human-computer systems. Human-computer systems span the range from individual software applications to networked groupware systems and interactive web sites. Presently the course focuses on a comparison between scenario-based design methods as advocated by Rosson & Carroll and usage-centered (model-based) design techniques as advocated by Constantine & Lockwood, with consideration of alternatives such as Extreme Programming. In all cases there is a strong emphasis on involvement of users and evaluation.

Students will learn selected methodologies through (1) readings; (2) in-class or online demonstrations and discussions; (3) small individual assignments in which the methodologies are tried on a test design problem; and (4) application of selected methodologies to a semester-long system design project, which will be underaken in groups.

In the process, we will explore issues such as whether it is best to design using abstractions that are then refined towards implementations versus design by rapid generation and revision of implementations (which may be visual designs or functioning prototypes).Design representations may be abstract with respect to the context of use and/or implementation choices. We will pay particular attention to how the various design representations support design conversations with users, other designers, and other stakeholders; expose design issues early and facilitate refinement; and serve as a record of design decisions and a specification for implementations. We will also emphasize iterative evaluation and refinement. You will draw your own conclusions about which techniques are useful.


This is a 600-level, 3-credit course. The prerequisite is ICS 463 Introduction to Human Computer Interaction (or the graduate version, ICS 664), or ICS 465 Introduction to Hypermedia (or the graduate version, ICS 665), or consent of the instructor. This prerequisite ensures that students will have been exposed to the basic concepts of human interface design.

Relationship to Other ICS Courses

This course complements our existing ICS 664 Human Computer Interaction with a hands-on design and evaluation methodology course. ICS 664 focuses on studies of human performance in designing and using information systems, emphasizing theoretical background from relevant disciplines. LIS 677 Human Dimension in Information Systems is similar to ICS 664 but with a focus on information retrieval systems; it does not directly address the methodologies covered by 667. ICS 665 User Interfaces and Hypermedia focuses on technological considerations in the implementation of interfaces. ICS 667 is distinguished from these courses in emphasizing the application of specific design and evaluation methodologies in the context of a major design project.

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