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Unit outline_

IDEA9105: Interface Design

Semester 1, 2021 [Normal day] - Remote

This unit introduces students to the fundamentals of user interface design. Interface design is an important element of a human-centred design approach to the development of interactive computational systems. Students will learn about industry standard user interface design and usability principles and guidelines, based in visual design theory and visual perception. They will acquire practical knowledge through the application of tools and techniques for designing and evaluating user interfaces for a variety of different platforms. This includes (1) low-fidelity prototyping (hand sketches, wireframes, clickable prototypes); (2) usability testing and heuristics; (3) web and mobile user interfaces and/or emerging technologies. The aim is to develop appreciation of visual design principles and their impact on the user experience of interactive products. The knowledge and skills developed in this unit will equip students with the essential capabilities for working in the interaction design and user experience profession. This unit is a foundational core unit in the Master of Interaction Design and Electronic Arts program.

Unit details and rules

Academic unit Design Lab
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Martin Tomitsch,
Lecturer(s) Martin Tomitsch,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Tutorial quiz In-class quizzes
Online Quizzes
20% Multiple weeks 5 quizzes, 10 minutes each
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment group assignment Wireframes
Visual report
30% Week 08
Due date: 27 Apr 2021 at 23:59
25/30 pages for groups of 2/3 students
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO6 LO1 LO2
Assignment group assignment Interactive prototype
Visual report and interactive prototype
50% Week 13
Due date: 01 Jun 2021 at 23:59
25/30 pages for groups of 2/3 students
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
group assignment = group assignment ?

Assessment summary

  • In-class quizzes: 5 quizzes, worth 4% each, due during tutorial time in weeks 1-5
  • Wireframes (visual report)
  • Interactive prototype (visual report and prototype) 

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a High distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a Distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

Work of outstanding quality, demonstrating mastery of the learning outcomes
assessed. The work shows significant innovation, experimentation, critical
analysis, synthesis, insight, creativity, and/or exceptional skill.


75 - 84

Work of excellent quality, demonstrating a sound grasp of the learning outcomes
assessed. The work shows innovation, experimentation, critical analysis,
synthesis, insight, creativity, and/or superior skill.


65 - 74

Work of good quality, demonstrating more than satisfactory achievement of the
learning outcomes assessed, or work of excellent quality for a majority of the
learning outcomes assessed.


50 - 64

Work demonstrating satisfactory achievement of the learning outcomes


0 - 49

Work that does not demonstrate satisfactory achievement of one or more of the
learning outcomes assessed.

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:

School policies apply for late penalties

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Overview of the unit Lecture (1 hr) LO1
Interactive tutorial activity: Interface design sprint – a fast paced overview of what you will learn in this unit Tutorial (2 hr) LO1
Week 02 User interface foundations – part 1: What is an interface – a short history of user interfaces and their evolution Lecture (1 hr) LO2
Interactive tutorial activity: Curating a museum of user interfaces – past, present and future Tutorial (2 hr) LO2
Week 03 User interface foundations – part 2: Understanding users – who are we designing for Lecture (1 hr) LO2
Interactive tutorial activity: Conduct an online ethnography to learn more about your users Tutorial (2 hr) LO2
Week 04 Information architecture – part 1: Atomic design – a structured approach to user interface design Lecture (1 hr) LO3
Interactive tutorial activity: Conduct a competitor analysis / Interactive tutorial activity: Identifying the user interface components for your design Tutorial (2 hr) LO2 LO3
Week 05 Information architecture – part 2: Information architecture and application structure – organising the content Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO3
Interactive tutorial activity: Creating the information architecture and application structure for your design / Sketching user interfaces Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO3
Week 06 Wayfinding and navigation – part 1: Wayfinding – guiding users to information and functions Lecture (1 hr) LO3
Sketching and wireframing basics / Introduction to Balsamiq (part 1) Tutorial (2 hr) LO3
Week 07 Wayfinding and navigation – part 2: Navigation – making it easy to navigate an application Lecture (1 hr) LO3
Wireflows and advanced wireframing / Introduction to Balsamiq (part 2) Tutorial (2 hr) LO3
Week 08 Layout design – part 1: Layout design – placing screen elements Lecture (1 hr) LO3 LO4
Layout design patterns Introduction to Figma wireframes (part 1) Tutorial (2 hr) LO3 LO4
Week 09 Layout design – part 2: Actions and input controls – designing forms and interface elements for doing things Lecture (1 hr) LO3 LO4
Design patterns for actions, commands, forms and controls / Introduction to Figma wireframes (part 2) Tutorial (2 hr) LO3 LO4
Week 10 Visual design – part 1: Visual design fundamentals – understanding the basics Lecture (1 hr) LO4
Creating high-fidelity mock-ups / Introduction to Figma for creating high-fidelity prototypes (part 1) / Design critique: Heuristic evaluation Tutorial (2 hr) LO4 LO5
Week 11 Visual design – part 2: Aesthetics – choosing the right visual design Lecture (1 hr) LO4
Creating interactive prototypes / Introduction to Figma for creating high-fidelity prototypes (part 2) Tutorial (2 hr) LO4
Week 12 Working as an interface designer – stories from the industry Lecture (1 hr)  
Project support – receive feedback on your designs and support with technical questions Tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 13 Final presentation of interactive prototype Tutorial (2 hr) LO6

Attendance and class requirements

Please refer to the Resolutions of the University School:

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

Prescribed readings will be provided via the Canvas site.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

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

  • LO1. appreciate the fundamental principles and underlying theories of user interface design
  • LO2. conduct research to explore, inform and critique multiple perspectives on a design problem/solution
  • LO3. apply user interface design principles and methods, within an iterative, increasing-fidelity design process
  • LO4. apply industry-relevant techniques in translating visual design and user behaviour theory into high quality concepts
  • LO5. apply user evaluation methods for improving the quality and usability of user interface products
  • LO6. demonstrate written and visual communication techniques for the presentation of design work for a range of formats and audiences.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

Assessment items have been updated since this unit was last offered. The quiz will now run as a series of weekly quizzes, rather than one quiz.


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.