Course Brief

This unit exposes students to the need for effective design in Computing. It allows learners to critically examine the design of contemporary computing devices and evaluate how well these designs achieve their aims.  Learners will also be engaged in conceptualising and developing their own design based on a particular problem domain. Essential skills such as teamwork, prototyping and communications will be explored.

  • This course is offered in 50 contact hours.

Upon successful completion of this unit, learners will be able to:

  1. Examine and analyse the interactions between humans and the computer systems they use;
  2. Describe basic theories, tools and techniques important to HCI;
  3. Implement and evaluate appropriate HCI techniques within a prototype.

Examine and Analyze Human-Computer Interaction:

  • Examine the interplay among users, tasks, task contexts and the environments in which the systems are used.
  • Goals of HCI: Ease of use, safety, utility, efficiency, effectiveness, learnability, memorability, positive user-experience goals (e.g. engaging, challenging, rewarding, satisfying, fun, motivating, etc.)
  • Types of interfaces and the evolution of interface design. Command line editors, Graphical User Interfaces, Web User Interfaces. Specialized interfaces. Future innovations, voice recognition, Virtual Reality. Modes of Interaction: Instructing, Conversing, Exploring, Manipulating


Describe basic theories, tools and techniques important to HCI:

  • Designing for cognitive styles of users: Perception (colour eg trichromatic system, luminance, ‘pop out’ effect; pattern eg proximity, continuity, symmetry, similarity, common groupings, connectedness; objects eg use of gross 3D shapes). Attention (bold, spacing, balance, ordering, grouping). Memory (Cognitive load, multitasking)
  • Information processing: humans as a component; overview of human information processing (HIP); cognitive psychology issues and considerations; overview of goals, operators, methods and selection (GOMS)
  • Basic Design Principles: visibility, feedback, balance, proportion, hierarchy/emphasis, unity.
  • Behaviour models: predictive models eg reaction time, Keystroke Level Model (KLM), ThroughPut (TP), Fitts’ Law; descriptive models eg Key-Action Model (KAM), Buxton’s three state model, Guiard’s Model
  • Specialist: design for specialist uses eg input or output for the visually, orally, aurally or physically challenged, remote control devices, head up displaysImplement and evaluate appropriate HCI techniques within a prototype


Implement and evaluate appropriate HCI techniques within a prototype:

  • Prototyping: user centred processes; task-centered processes; participatory design; low fidelity prototypes, medium fidelity prototypes.
  • Input: keyboard/mouse/monitor eg minimise keystrokes and mouse movements, logical sequencing, dexterity required; use of other input devices eg concept keyboard, voice input, joystick, touch screen; designs for other devices eg mobile phone, personal digital assistant (PDA), digital audio broadcasting (DAB) radio
  • Output: monitor or print eg logical sequence, layout, colour, orientation; use of other devices eg voice output, projector/interactive whiteboard
  • Testing: user testing; against original specification; working within a closed system; working in wider system; recording tests
  • Documentation: design eg picture boards, rich picture diagrams, flowcharts, structured charts; narrative eg original specification, description of how result achieved; test log
  • Evaluation: methods of evaluation of interfaces with users: goals of evaluation; approaches; ethics; choosing an evaluation method.
  • Quantitative measures of effectiveness: speed eg input speeds, keying speeds, throughput, speed of comprehension of output; comparative costs eg running costs, costs of staffing; comparison with original needs eg how many features are fully, partially, or not included; comparison with other systems
  • Qualitative measures of effectiveness: user satisfaction eg ease of use, skills required, usefulness of results, meets requirement; comparison with other systems eg in what way is the new better than the old?