CS548 – Designing Usable Systems

Credits 20
Level 5
Semester 1
Prerequisites N/A
Availability Available only to MSc Advanced Computer Science, MSc Advanced Software Engineering, fifth year MEng Computer Science and fifth year MEng Computer & Electronic Systems students
Contact 2 hour slot per week for online learning activities (lectures, tutorials, labs) in your own time (timetabled learning) | 2 hours timetabled slot for sychronous (in person) learning activities such as face to face seminars, Q and As and interactive learning sessions with staff and class members
Assessment 100% coursework.
Resit 100% coursework.
Lecturer Dr Marilyn Lennon

General Aims

To develop research level understanding of the design and evaluation of interactive systems and interfaces for newly emerging technologies and computing domains such as ubiquitous and mobile computing, universal access and domain specific applications (e.g. older adults, education, health, children).

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the class, a student should be able to:

  • understand users and their context and how these should be considered in the context of user interface design and evaluation;
  • identify appropriate requirements methods and carry these out effectively to design an interactive system;
  • select and employ appropriate design methods for an interactive system;
  • conduct low and hi fidelity prototyping techniques to develop an example interactive system;
  • conduct observational studies of user activities and report these to a publishable standard;
  • assess interactive systems for usability using appropriate evaluation techniques, justify the choice of techniques and report the studies to a publishable standard;
  • understand and discuss usability and user experience issues in the research literature for emerging areas of human-computer interaction;
  • identify and discuss ethical and professional issues of importance when designing and evaluating interactive systems
  • relate their work to work in the human-computer interaction literature;
  • understand and discuss future research directions in interface design and evaluation.


The class outline (lectures supported by an accompanying lab and tutorial for each) is as follows:

  • Design Principles
  • Usability and User Experience
  • The User Centered Design Process
  • Human Computer Interaction
  • Designing Interactive Systems
  • Understanding Users
  • Understanding Context
  • Requirements and Design
  • Low Fidelity Prototypes
  • High Fidelity Prototypes
  • Design Case Studies
  • Analytical Evaluation
  • Empirical Evaluation
  • Presenting Design Change and Insight

Recommended Text/Reading*

* This list is indicative only – the class lecturer may recommend alternative reading material. Please do not purchase any of the reading material listed below until you have confirmed with the class lecturer that it will be used for this class.

The course will make extensive use of the ACM Digital Library, in particular the proceedings of ACM Computer-Human Interaction, MobileHCI and Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction. In addition the following texts are recommended:

Research Methods in Human-computer Interaction Dr. Jonathan Lazar, Dr. Jinjuan Heidi Feng, and Dr. Harry Hochheiser | Stocked at Amazon (Other retailers are available)

Human Computer Interaction Alan Dix, Janet Finlay, Gregory D. Abowd and Russell Beale | Stocked at Amazon (Other retailers are available)

Mobile Interaction Design Matt Jones and Gary Marsden | Stocked at Amazon (Other retailers are available)