|BSc||IT113, First trimester 2000/2001, 2 credits|
Contents of this page (last modified: Thursday, 15 February 2001)
This course is over, but this web page will be accessible for an indefinite period of time.
People used to grumble about computer software that was hard to learn or use. Nowadays, more and more, they just hit the "Back" button of their browser or put the fancy mobile phone back on the shelf; and within seconds they have been lost as customers. The critical economic importance of usability has created a great demand for those who know how to make systems usable.
In the first half of this course (and part of the second half), you will learn to analyze particular system designs in terms of how well they take into account the properties of their users, which range from their perceptual strengths and limitations to their social and organizational environment. Examples will refer to the current generation of interactive computing systems (including web-related technologies, mobile devices, and systems for e-commerce), but you will learn general concepts and principles that will also be applicable to future technological innovations.
In the main part of the second half of the course, you will learn about the most important methods for designing usable systems, and you will gain some experience in applying them.
The course is open to all BSc students.
Time and Place
Classes will be held each week from 14.10 to 17.20 in Room 1.1.14, starting on September 12th.
As a supplement to the materials distributed and presented in class, a number of the chapters of the following textbook will be assigned as required reading:
Dix, A., Finlay, J., Abowd, G., & Beale, R. (1998). Human-computer interaction (2nd edition). New York: Prentice-Hall. (638 pages)
Several copies of the book are available in the University's library, but its purchase is recommended, since it can serve as a valuable resource after the course. Detailed information about the book is available from a separate Web page.
The book is available from http://www.amazon.com in the U.S. for $59, and it is said to ship within 24 hours.
Warning: The German and UK web sites of Amazon offer a 1997 paperback edition, but this appears to be the first edition, which is now too old for use in this course, having appeared originally in 1992. (The book is presented as if it were the second edition, but its number of pages and its date of appearance suggest otherwise.)
Note: As was agreed during Class 10, 2 points for Class 11 will be shifted from the quiz to the homework, because the homework is especially time-consuming during this week. Consequently, the percentages below are no longer exactly accurate.
These quizzes, administered at the beginning of each class, will encourage the students to complete the basic reading on a weekly basis, so as to derive maximum benefit from the classes.
These assignments will give an opportunity for active, independent application of the concepts and methods introduced in the classes.
These open-book written exams will encourage students to review and integrate the course material, and it will test their ability to retrieve and combine the ideas that are relevant to a given problem.
Students are encouraged to read in advance the grading policy that will be applied in this course.
Starting Points for IBIS Argumentations
Each of the following files contains settings that are useful for the writing of an IBIS argumentation in Word's outline mode. It also contains the text that you can find on Slide 376 (Class 10).
The two files are identical in content; two versions are provided because Microsoft formats often don't work on some versions of Microsoft software. Once you've downloaded a version that works on your system, you can use it as a starting point for your own IBIS argumentations.
It may take a while to become skilled at using outline mode, but it's well worth the effort, even aside from IBIS. For example, writing an increasingly detailed outline is an effective way to prepare the first draft of a normal manuscript.
Please don't try to get by without these templates by just switching to outline mode in Word. The fonts that Word uses by default in outline mode are inappropriate for IBIS analyses, so the result would be hard to read.
Using the Template in Outline Mode
You can then use the mouse in the obvious way to move the subtree to the right or left, or up or down.
We'll use the larger one if we project outlines onto the screen. Also, this font is the one you should use when determining how many "screenfuls" you have written. But the smaller font may be more convenient for your own use during the writing.
No matter how you set your margins, etc., Word always enforces a constant width of the text in outline mode; so there may be a lot of white space to the right of the outline.
Here are two further resources that you may find interesting, though they do not constitute required reading:
This is probably the best-known set of guidelines in the HCI literature. Though dated by now, it is unusually exhaustive, and it includes references to the research on which the guidelines are based. You may find it interesting to look at it while reading about guidelines in Chapter 5.
This is an amusing, instructive, and extensive collection of examples of poor interface design.