INF 385G - Information Architecture and Usability Studies

Fall 2001
Unique ID: 45850
Prof:  Bias, Randolph
Room: SZB 546
Time: 6:00-9:00P

Web access to the information and services of large libraries and organizations creates a critical need for clear site architecture that guides the user's navigation to needed material. This course covers the design elements, software metrics needed as well as an introduction to usability methods to test the success of a site's architecture. (Graduate standing; credit or registration for LIS 384K.17)

The rapid expansion of the internet and e-commerce has brought information architecture and software usability engineering into prominence. As computing oozes into every nook of citizenry, it's increasingly important for software developers NOT to depend on their own intuitions as to what product designs are likely to be seen as usable. The way web and other user interface developers address this intentionally is by being systematic in their approach to selecting and organizing the information provided, and by pursuing a course of "user-centered design" (UCD). UCD involves employing a collection of usability engineering methods across the life-cycle of a software product.
The class will cover four major areas:
1 - the study and practice of information architecture,
2 - the perceptual and cognitive psychological underpinnings of usability

(i.e., the emerging "usability science"),
3 - the usability engineering methods used in the pursuit of UCD, and
4 - the justification for the application of information architecture
and usability engineering in a software development project.

The course will entail three major instructional techniques:
1 - lecture on the scientific underpinnings and the methods of information
architecture and usability engineering,
2 - site visits to local companies that have usability labs and/or employ
information architects, to see and hear demonstrations of methods as
applied to real-world software design problems, and
3 - individual usability engineering/information architecture projects,
to be carried out by each student and the results shared with the class.

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