Introduction to HCI
This Practice Theme forum corresponds to Week #1 in the Detailed Course Schedule, which includes readings and activities.
Practice Theme: Intro to HCI
Here’s a practice theme we can get started with to orient ourselves to the Discussions tool, to acquaint ourselves with fellow class members, and to become familiar with the HCI field.
Important! This is to confirm you are enrolled and participating in the course.
We will use this practice theme before we get started on more formal issues in the weeks ahead. We need to do some reading and some literature researching before we can have deeper discussions.
Here is the theme: We’ve all experienced problems using technology — all the way from minor glitches to loss of data. Many of these problems seemed to happen without our knowledge of how they happened or why. In many cases, the problem was not within our control. On the other hand, we were able to figure out the problem with minimal effort and move on. The user experience is the central factor of focus in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). Good design and good usability are complex issues. Thus, many things involving the user experience, effective design, and effective usability will be discussed in this course.
Here is the question: Let’s tackle things from our own perspective first as we get started: If you could change the design of a technology interface you are familiar with, what would those changes be? (Name the technology interface, the problem(s), and your reasonable solution(s) to the design.) Think in terms of usability attributes such as ease of use, learnability, error recovery, satisfaction, intuitiveness, other concepts from our readings.
Please go the Canvas Modules/Course Content page and see the content folder for Week#1. I have posted some introductory notes on HCI (ppt) and brief handouts that steer you to Don Norman’s principles of good design, Ben Shneiderman’s Eight Golden Rules of Interface Design, and Jakob Nielsen’s Ten Usability Heuristics. These are popular guidelines and cover basics about HCI. (300 words)
Assignment #1 UX/UI Inspection
Details on Assignment #1 are contained in the Course Guide. The assignment (one file) must be submitted through the Assignments link in Canvas and is due on
Turnitin has been enabled. You have two (2) attempts to submit — using the first submission to use Turnitin to then allow you to make any necessary changes to the paper before you submit the second attempt. I will be grading only the second or last attempt (which also gives me an originality report).
Both assignments focus on the user experience (UX) but from different angles. Assignment #1 is
your independent assessment of inspecting a selected user interface (UI) as it applies to aspects
of user experience (UX). Assignment #2 is a usability evaluation involving your direct
observations of three participants of their user experience as they work through tasks that are
part or whole of a selected user interface. Both assignments must be based on known user
experience/usability/UI/HCI/usable privacy principles/concepts that pertain well to the selected
BOTH papers require substantial HCI/usability literature synthesis to support your
discussion about content.
These assignments require outside literature research (online databases in the NSU
library) and activity beyond required texts and readings:
Assignment #1: UX/UI Inspection Paper: You will be the sole evaluator/inspector of a user interface of your
choice (like a website or smart device or app — something digital) using the principles of good
design and usability attributes/concepts presented in the texts and readings. You will also address
basic concepts about usable privacy because cybersecurity is an important area of study in IT
and is important to connect to HCI and usability. Consider yourself the expert reviewer and the
usability expert who is inspecting the interface. Your inspection paper will describe in detail
what you find to be the essential aspects of the user experience of working through the interface,
by focusing on selected usability principles, heuristics, and usability, and usable privacy
concepts that pertain to your choice of interface. You will prepare an 10-12 (content) page paper
that discusses the good and poor design aspects you are finding with the interface, not just
focusing on functionality, but also aspects of the user experience, including aspects of usable
privacy. Discuss your reactions to the interface based on the principles of good design and make
recommendations for improving the interface/product. Instructions for completing this
assignment are presented in this course guide.
Associated Learning Outcomes with Assignment #1:
Inspect and contextualize major considerations of user experience (UX), including defining the
user, user experience levels, and various usability attributes (e.g., ease of use, user satisfaction,
Specify established usability and design principles to the evaluation of current interfaces.
Describe privacy issues, tools, and practices and important considerations to UX.
A usability inspection is one type of usability evaluation method that is performed at
different formative and summative stages of UX/UI design. In this assignment, you are the sole
inspector of an interface (part or whole) that you select to assess how the UI design meets or
fails to match up with selected user interface strategies, usability design principles, heuristics,
and concepts. In this case, your inspection is summative, meaning that you are inspecting a user
interface that is already “on the market” or is being used by a general or specific population of
users. You are selecting an “everyday” interface — something users are familiar with and
certainly something that you use whether frequently or infrequently. (Pick a website, a smart
device app or something ‘digital’ that connects to the Internet. Most technology now is
connectable and we want to focus on something that we can track usable privacy on, too.)
Overall task: After becoming familiar with user interface design strategies, usability
principles, heuristics, and concepts, including usable privacy concepts, you will evaluate on your
own a user interface using the principles of good design and usability presented in the texts and
the readings as directed from the professor’s lecture notes. You are the sole evaluator/inspector
of one specific interface that you choose to assess the user experience of. You may evaluate any
an digital interface (e.g., a Web site, or mobile device, or a favorite app, or…..) in part or whole.
The interface selected should be complex enough to support detailed analysis of the design and
usability of the interface. It should be inspected also for impacts on usable privacy. (Do not use
other users as evaluators for this assignment! That is Assignment #2!)
The evaluation will involve the preparation of a descriptive paper (10 to 12 pages) that
describes the good and poor design and usability aspects of the interface. The usability
principles and attributes discussed in the texts and article readings will be used as a basis for
your inspection of the interface. The paper is a critique of your inspection of the interface
focusing on the user experience from many angles. The paper is also a scholarly synthesis of the
HCI principles, strategies, and guidelines that pertain to the design and usability of user
interface, and applicable aspects of usable privacy. Additionally, you are required to present
your recommendations for improving the design and usability of the user interface. Your paper
must include and properly cite HCI/usability literature in the narrative as well as a complete and
accurate Reference List. Even though you are the sole inspector/evaluator, in focusing on
concepts and principles/heuristics, you must rely on the literature to substantiate and synthesize your critique.
Required: Focus on concepts and principles/heuristics: For example, if you are finding a
problem with “consistency” with the chosen interface, describe that problem from the user
experience viewpoint and then describe what the HCI/usability literature defines or describes as
the concept of “consistency”. Match your observed problems to something conceptual to HCI or
usability. Think about the usability problems you are finding yourself with a particular interface.
Do you find there are problems pertaining to safety, consistency, visibility, or any other usability
concept or principle or heuristic? Focus on what design aspects are good and those that need
work to improve the user experience. Select a few of the various usability concepts, principles,
heuristics or areas that you are learning from the course material that you can discuss in relation
to the design aspect you are finding that are both good and those design aspects that need
improvement (for the user). Include a section on Recommendations to connect the usability
problems you find to making recommendations to improving the interface. Note: The paper
should NOT focus solely on functionality! Some brief integration on functionality is ok, but the
main focus should also weave in common ground with our understanding of the user experience
— what the user enjoys, finds frustrating, cannot figure out, the app “quits unexpectedly” — the
everyday feelings and experiences we all have when we use a technology that needs some
improvement! Locate usability problems with the interface!
Required: Usable Privacy Component — As we examine concepts of privacy and the
effects the Internet has on privacy, you are REQUIRED to address at least two topics related to
the topic tracks Usable Privacy I and/or Usable Privacy II in your UX/UI Inspection paper. (See
Detailed Course Schedule for readings and activities related to these topic tracks.) Work into
your inspection of the interface, important privacy concepts that relate to the user experience
and/or the design of the user interface. For example, in inspecting a mobile app or a website,
address privacy issues from the user perspective or how the design protects privacy or poses
privacy risks. Examples: (see Topics in schedule), personally identifiable information, one or
more Fair Information Practice Principles (FIPPs), risks to privacy, privacy policies, tracking
and surveillance, anonymity and pseudonymity, etc. You are REQUIRED to integrate specific
readings from the Usable Privacy I and Usable Privacy II topic tracks, as supporting literature
for addressing the privacy issues you decide to focus on in the UX/UI Inspection. Specifically,
for the Usable Privacy Component section of the paper, you need to: (1) Examine concepts
of privacy pertaining to the interface. (2) Address how the Internet effects privacy in
general and in the context of the digital interface you are evaluating. (3) Describe various
approaches (taken by individuals, organizations and governments, as applicable) to protect
Required: Substantiation of literature – you are analyzing an interface and looking for
usability problems. You are required to integrate and properly cite into your paper pertinent
information that you have gained from the required readings and from your own literature
search. The literature integration is a conceptual bridge between what you believe should be
improved with the interface and what the experts say. Guidelines: at least 6-10 current academic
references from those listed in this Course Guide. Do not use industry websites unless they are
part of the recommended sources for the course. Follow strict APA style guidelines for making
proper literature citations in the body of the paper and in the References list.
In sum, the independent UX/UI inspection should be based on a goal or a set of metrics
or attributes, such as evaluating for ease of use, ease of learning, consistency, etc. Some
“example” usability attributes mentioned in the texts: learnability, efficiency, memorability,
recovery from errors, user satisfaction, ease of use, etc. (We will also discuss these concepts in
our asynchronous discussions.) You may select any one or a combination of usability concepts
(and privacy concepts) and attributes and/or principles and heuristics to base your inspection of
the chosen interface. Pick the ones that best fit what you are finding in your inspection.
Keep the UX/UI choice manageable! Many interfaces are quite extensive in scope, so
you may have to decide to limit your UX/UI Inspection to certain aspects, (e.g., some overall
functions and features of an application, a specific part of a website, or special options for expert
or novice users.
Basic Structure for Assignment #1 Format (See previous section on Basic Requirements for
• Title page – your full name, course #, title of your inspection — “A UX/UI Inspection
of……” (what interface you are inspecting)
• Table of Contents
• Introduction –about the interface being inspected/evaluated and why you are inspecting
• Main HCI issues or Usability Attributes/Principles Used to Inspect/Evaluate the Interface
(You have to be creative as to how you want to organize the issues or categories of the
• Usable Privacy Component (based on topic tracks and readings Usable Privacy I and/or
Usable Privacy II in the schedule) that relate to the interface.
• Discussion of Usability Problems: Depth discussion of the above relative to the interface
with extensive literature synthesis on the HCI/usability concepts applied
• Recommendations for Improving the Interface Design (based on the usability problems you found
• References (Use strict APA 6th)
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