CS 546 - Human Computer Interaction

Fall 2008


Lectures: Tuesdays, 6 - 9pm
Instructor: Jeff LeBlanc,  jleblanc@wpi.edu

Location:   Fuller Labs 320
Office hours:  None per se, but available as needed before or after class, or by appointment.

Text: The text for the course is About Face 3.0, by Cooper, Cronin, and Reimann.

 Description:  This course prepares graduate students for research and development in the area of human-computer interaction. Topics include the design and evaluation of interactive computer systems, basic psychological considerations of interaction, interactive language design, interactive hardware design and special input/output techniques. Students are expected to present and review recent research results from the literature, and to complete several projects.  Please be aware that this is a software design course, not a programming course.  It is possible to complete this course without writing a single line of code (if this makes you want to run for the registrar's office and transfer, I understand).

Goals:  During this semester, you should learn the following:

  • How to perform a goal-directed user interface design
  • How to evaluate existing hardware and software systems and designs
  • How to apply interaction design axioms to the development of new systems
  • How to better communicate your designs to your peers

Grade Policy: There will be no exams in this class; grades will be bases entirely on project work and presentations associated with the projects. The content of the projects will be discussed in class and will involve applying the techniques and principles that are presented.   Projects are due during class the week they are listed as due.  Grades for a project will drop one letter grade for every 24 hours they are late, beginning at the end of the class.  If you have a very good reason for being late on a project, you need to talk to me before the due date.

Extra credit: Participating in class discussion is worth up to 5% extra credit on the final grade.


  1. Reading is required, and working ahead is encouraged (some weeks are light, some are heavy, so pace yourself; you have been warned). We will be discussing the reading during each class session, as well as other case studies and sources of information outside the book.
  2. The final project will be a group project of 2-4 people.  Yes, you have to be in a group.
  3. There will be no actual programming required for any of the projects (this is, after all, a design course), although project 4 will require some type of UI prototype to be submitted.  More on this later in the semester.





Week 1 (Sept 2)

Introduction, Universal Usability, Effective Presentations, Color

Chapter 3, paper:  p84-shneiderman-universal.pdf




Week 2 (Sept 9)

Guest lecture:  UI theories and principles, patterns, mental models

Chapters 2, 8, 12, 13, 14




Week 3 (Sept 16)

Project 1 presentations





Week 4 (Sept 23)

Interaction devices, Direct Manipulation, device show and tell

Chapters 19, 20, 21  paper:  p219-mackenzie.pdf




Week 5 (Sept 30)

Project 2, reports and presentations





Week 6 (Oct 7)

Software: menus, forms, and dialogs

Chapters 22, 23, 24




Week 7 (Oct 14)

Interaction Design

Chapters 1, 4, 5, 6  paper:  GOMS / KLM




Week 8 (Oct 21)

Interaction Design II, Posture, Flow, Excise

Chapters 7, 9, 10, 11




Week 9 (Oct 28)

Project 3, reports and presentations





Week 10 (Nov 4)

Guest lecture, CardZorting; Prototyping techniques

Richpicture.pdf, paper prototyping, wireframes




Week 11 (Nov 11)

Implementation issues, Testing





Week 12 (Nov 18)

Design Reviews, GUIs That Suck

Chapter 25, Google for “UI Hall of Shame”




Week 13 (Dec 2)

Guest lecture (or no class)





Week 14 (Dec 9)

Special Topics, project workshop





Week 15 (Dec 16)

Project 4, final presentations



Projects: There are four (4) projects associated with this course, as follows.  

Project 1:  Awareness of Current Research

Project 2:  Interaction devices

Project 3:  UI Critique

Project 4:  UI Design, Prototype, and Testing results