This course will cover the design, prototyping, and evalution of user interfaces for computers, which is often called Human-Computer Interaction (HCI).

HCI covers many topics including:

  • Human capabilities (e.g., visual and auditory perception, memory, mental models, and interface metaphors)
  • Interface technology (e.g., input and output devices, interaction styles, and common interface paradigms)
  • Interface design methods (e.g., user-centered design, prototyping, and design principles and rules)
  • Interface evaluation (e.g., software logging, user observation, benchmarks and experiments).
    This material will be covered through lectures, reading, discussions, homework assignments, and a course project.

Course Objectives

The goal of the course is for students to learn how to design, prototype, and evaluate user interfaces using a variety of methods. In order to achieve this, students should come away with an understanding of:

  • how to study the tasks that a prospective user will need to accomplish with a software system
  • the cognitive and perceptual constraints that affect UI design
  • techniques for evaluating a user interface design
  • the importance of iterative design in producing usable software
  • prototyping, low-fidelity design, and implementation of initial versions of user interfaces,
  • how to work together on a team project and to communicate the results of work, both in oral and written form.


Marti Hearst (hearst@sims)
212 South Hall, 510-642-8016
Office Hours: Tuesdays 10:30-11:30am

Nadine Fiebrich (nadinef@sims)
Office Hours: Wednesdays 10:30am - 12:00pm and by appointment
Anita Wilhelm (awilhelm@sims)

Class Meetings

Class meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00-10:30am in 202 South Hall. The format of the class will be primarily lecturing, in-class design and critique exercises, and student presentations.


Grades will be determined by a student's performance on a midterm (30%), individual written assignments (20%), and a group project (50%). The project grades will be based on a combination of presentations, write-ups, and the project itself. This year the project milestone assignments will not be graded -- they must be turned in on time however, or the final project grade will be reduced. The class will not be graded on a curve.

Individual homework should be done independently. It is fine to discuss the general techniques and methods required, but you must do your own work in solving the problems and writing up the solutions. After you turn in your individual homework, you may use this information in the group, combined with others homework, to aid in the project redesigns.

Late Policy

There will be no allowance for late group presentations or assignments. We have a schedule to keep and the rest of the class is depending on you to get your work done on time.

We will accept late individual homework assignments, but the grades will be reduced. The homework is due at the start of class.

Readings and Books

A course reader is available at CopyCentral (2560 Bancroft, 510-848-8649) for $35.51.

In addition, the following books are required. It is suggested you purchase these through the IMSA student association links as shown below.

  Usability Engineering  by Jakob Nielsen
  GUI Bloopers  by Jeff Johnson
  The Design of Everyday Things  by Donald Norman
  The Inmates Are Running the Asylum  by Alan Cooper