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Unit of study_

COMP5427: Usability Engineering

Usability engineering is the systematic process of designing and evaluating user interfaces so that they are usable. This means that people can readily learn to use them efficiently, can later remember how to use them and find it pleasant to use them. The wide use of computers in many aspects of people's lives means that usability engineering is of the utmost importance. There is a substantial body of knowledge about how to elicit usability requirements, identify the tasks that a system needs to support, design interfaces and then evaluate them. This makes for systematic ways to go about the creation and evaluation of interfaces to be usable for the target users, where this may include people with special needs. The field is extremely dynamic with the fast emergence of new ways to interact, ranging from conventional WIMP interfaces, to touch and gesture interaction, and involving mobile, portable, embedded and desktop computers. This unit will enable students to learn the fundamental concepts, methods and techniques of usability engineering. Students will practice these in small classroom activities. They will then draw them together to complete a major usability evaluation assignment in which they will design the usability testing process, recruit participants, conduct the evaluation study, analyse these and report the results.

Code COMP5427
Academic unit Computer Science
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge:
Skills with modelling as covered in ISYS2110 or ISYS2120 or COMP9110 or COMP9201 (or equivalent UoS from different institutions)

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. Explain the applicability of design techniques learnt for different contexts
  • LO2. Design materials for conducting a user study, including recruitment forms, study protocol, address ethical considerations
  • LO3. Conduct a user study in a professional and ethical manner
  • LO4. Design, perform and analyse results of a think-aloud evaluation
  • LO5. Conduct usability evaluations using key no-user techniques
  • LO6. Describe how to conduct comprehensive summative usability evaluation experiments and how they differ from formative ones
  • LO7. Assess and explain the relative strengths and weaknesses key usability evaluation techniques for a new context
  • LO8. Explain the merits and trade-offs of key usability evaluation techniques for particular context
  • LO9. Report a usability study systematically, assessing the strengths and limitations
  • LO10. Work in a team to conduct usability evaluations
  • LO11. Work in a team to perform parallel iterative prototyping.

Unit outlines

Unit outlines will be available 2 weeks before the first day of teaching for the relevant session.