INF 385P 
Introduction to Usability 

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The rapid expansion of the Internet and e-commerce has brought software usability engineering into prominence. As more and more information exists in electronic form (and sometimes ONLY in electronic form), the storage and retrieval of information is increasingly a human-computer interface (HCI) design problem. 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 designers and developers address this intentionally is 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 three major areas:
1 - the perceptual psychological, cognitive psychological, and other scientific underpinnings of usability (i.e., the emerging "usability science"),
2 - the usability engineering methods used in the pursuit of UCD, and
3 - the justification for the application of 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 usability engineering,
2 - site visits to and from local companies that have usability labs, to see and hear demonstrations of methods as applied to real-world software design problems, and
3 - individual usability engineering projects, to be carried out by each student, with the results to be shared with the class.

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Last Updated: January 17, 2005