Check out the class video prototypes!

This course will cover the design, prototyping, and evaluation of user interfaces and applications for computing devices, often called Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). HCI covers many topics, including:

  • Design (e.g., user-centered design, prototyping, and design principles and rules)
  • Implementation (e.g., input and output devices, interaction styles, and common interface paradigms)
  • Evaluation (e.g., conducting user studies and experiments)

Course Objectives
The goal of the course is for students to learn how to design, prototype, and evaluate user interfaces and applications using a variety of methods. Students should come away with an understanding of:

  • how to study user tasks in context
  • prototyping and testing initial versions of user interfaces
  • the importance of iterative design in producing usable software
  • the cognitive and perceptual constraints that affect interface design
  • techniques for evaluating the usability of an interface
  • how to work together on a team project
  • how to communicate the results of a design process, both in oral and written form

Project Theme
The course centers around a semester-long project, in which students will experience each phase of the user interface design process from needs analysis through prototyping and evaluation. This semester, through the projects students will explore how the mobile browsing experience can be extended and improved by prototyping and developing extensions for the brand new Firefox Mobile web browser. Mobile Firefox is the first mobile web browser to allow extensions, thus these projects will be among the first to explore the possibilities of this new technology.


Professor: Jeffrey Nichols,, 6 South Hall
Office Hours: Tue 11-12, Thu 1-2 (please email me if you plan to attend)
Also available at other times by appointment, please email me

TA: Carol Chen, carolc@ischool
Office Hours: Wed 2-3 in CoLab, 210 South Hall

Class meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:30-5:00 PM in 202 South Hall.

Grades will be determined primarily by a student's performance on individual assignments, group assignments, a final group project and in-class participation. The group project will be a core component of the class, and as such will carry a significant weighting in the course grade. The class will not be graded on a curve. While the final grade assignment is subject to the instructors' discretion, the following is a rough breakdown of the weight given to the various components in the course.

  • Class Participation: 20%
  • Design Assignments: 10%
  • Individual Project Proposal: 5%
  • Group Brainstorm: 5%
  • Contextual Inquiry: 10%
  • Lo-Fi Prototype: 10%
  • Interactive Prototype: 10%
  • Pilot Usability Study & Final Presentation: 15%
  • Process Book: 15%

Late Policy
Homework is due at the start of class. We will accept late assignments, but the grades will be reduced by one letter grade (if submitted within one week). There will be no allowance for late presentations. Each group project assignment builds from the previous assignments, so we highly recommend turning in each group assignment on time.

Readings will be posted to the course schedule, hopefully at least one week in advance of the class. Most of them will be provided online with restricted access. In addition, the following books are recommended as references, but will not be needed in class: