Ie 455: User Interface Design

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INDE/TC 455: User Interface Design

Class: Mon, Wed, Fri 12:30-13:20, MOR 220

Lab: Fri 14:30-16:20, MGH 044
Trond Nilsen


Office in AERB 141A

Office Hours: Tue 2:00-4:00P

(Other times by appointment)



This course addresses the fundamentals of designing interfaces between humans and complex machines, notably computer systems. Topics include

  • Models of human-computer interaction

  • The interface design process

  • Hardware, software, and human factors elements associated with the design and use of interfaces

  • Sensory, perceptual, cognitive and psychomotor aspects of human-computer interaction in real and virtual environments.

Practical group work will be emphasized to help students develop skills that will allow them to work effectively on interdisciplinary design teams in industry. The course may include invited lecturers to give students further insight to the practical aspects of designing and assessing interfaces in various settings. Other advanced topics will be presented as time permits.

Required Materials

Course notes and presentation materials available for downloading from course website


Selected papers and other resources to be available for downloading from course website

American Psychological Association (APA) Style Guide


Recommended Materials

  1. Norman, D.A. (1988). The Design of Everyday Things, New York, NY: Basic Books.

  2. Preece, J. et al. (2002). Interaction Design, New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

  3. Laurel, B. (1990). The Art of Human-Computer Interface Design, Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.

  4. De Bono, Edward. Six Thinking Hats.

  5. De Bono, Edward. Lateral Thinking: Step-by-Step


The final grade will be determined based on the following:

Design Problems 20%

Arcade Game Project 30%

Group Interface Design Project-Class Presentation 10%

Group Interface Design Project Report 40%

Quality of student assignments

Papers and other assignments to be submitted in this course are expected to be of the highest quality and written in a scholarly way. Correct spelling and grammar are expected, while citations should follow the guidelines of the American Psychological Association Style Guide. When appropriate, students are expected to illustrate their ideas to supplement written material. Drawings and sketches are not expected to be perfect, but should communicate your ideas clearly. Creativity and “thinking outside the box” is expected and will be rewarded. Creative problem solving tools (c.f. De Bono) form a large portion of this course’s content.

Design Problems (20% of grade)

During the course of the quarter several short design problems will be assigned involving a fundamental interface issue. Some design problems will assigned to be done quickly in class (e.g. 5-10 minutes), others outside of class (e.g. during the Lab period). Thorough analysis and creativity are expected for the design problems assigned outside of class. Most design problems can be accomplished with a short one-page write-up with an accompanying sketch. Succinctness is a virtue – your insight, clarity of thought, and ability to express your ideas clearly and effectively will be assessed.

Game Design Critique (30% of grade)

For this project, you will critique the interface of game at local video game parlor, arcade or other location-based entertainment venue. You will choose a game that you are not familiar with, attempt to play the game based on the instructions and knowledge you have of how other electronic games are played, and then assess its interface according to a series of questions provided to you in the assignment handout.

You will be asked include discussion of the environment in your assessment; therefore, the game selected must not be a game played on your computer or in your home. Both the Health Sciences Student Center and Husky Union Building have arcade game rooms. Gameworks in downtown Seattle is another popular choice.

Helpful Readings for the Arcade Game Assignment

Katie Salen & Eric Zimmerman, Rules of Play


Chris Crawford, The Art of Computer Game Design


David Kieras, User Interface Design for Games


Arcade Game Project Paper

You will prepare a paper including bibliography & illustrations using the APA style guide. Details will be provided in a separate handout. The paper will be due on Friday, October 16.

Group Interface Design Project (50% total)

For this project, you will be assigned to a three or four-person group on Friday October 2. The assignment of groups will be based on an experience/interest questionnaire given on the first day of class. Each group will be assigned a specific interface design problem to work on for the rest of the quarter. In the event that the group desires to work on a different design problem, it must be approved by the instructor, and there must be a unanimous agreement among members of the group. A group wishing to change its assigned project must recommend a new project by the end of class on Friday 9 Oct.

When your group first meets we recommend that you

  • Select a coordinator, archivist, and audit keeper

  • Determine regular outside class meeting times and locations

  • Agree on a group name

  • Review the grading criteria listed below.

Generally, Friday lab sessions will have significant time reserved for group work.

During the course of the quarter, your group will

  • Perform a background review on the topic,

  • Survey potential users,

  • Develop a sample user persona,

  • Design an interface for the particular application,

  • Test and evaluate your design using lightweight mockups and flipbooks.

At the end of quarter, you will turn in a functional and physical prototype, a collection of materials generated at each stage of the process, and a meta-analysis of the design process and your group’s experience. For this class, the interface itself is not as important as the process of designing it. You will be graded based on your completion of the overall process. Group members will also assess the contribution of each individual group member.

During the course of the quarter, you will also provide interim reports of interface design steps as described in class.

Finally, on the last day of class, you will present your work to a panel of judges; this presentation will count for 10% of your total grade.

Grading Criteria for INDE/TC 455 User Interface Design Final Project





Statement of Interface Design Problem

Analysis of design problem

Background Review






Design Process




Task Analysis

System Maps

Screen Designs

Flip Books


Functional prototype

Physical mockup



User Observations



Extent of analysis

Design recommendations



Use of process (Appendices)


Creativity in solutions

Clarity in presentation



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