Web-Site Usability MIT 5390 / CS 4390

Summer II, 2006



Instructor:            David G. Novick

Office:                 Comp 209

Phone / e-mail:     747- 6031 / novick [at the domain]

Office hours:        By appointment

Class Meetings:   5:00 – 10:00 p.m. Tuesday & Thursday, COMP 321


Texts:                 Dumas & Redish, A practical guide to usability testing, revised edition, 1999

                           Johnson, Web bloopers, 2003


Course Objectives:


This course provides the practical basis for answering these kinds of questions and improving the effectiveness of Web sites. The course's content is based on both current commercial practice and its underlying cognitive models. The course will include extensive hands-on testing and analysis of real Web sites, and these skills can be used for improving user interfaces more generally. Students need to be able to commit significant time to this course during its four weeks. Students must have adequate writing skills. Specifically, the objectives of this course are





Due Dates. Seven project assignments will be given in the course. The project assignments will be done in teams, which will change from assignment to assignment. Also, seven design-heuristics assignments will be given. The design-heuristics assignments will be done individually. Completed assignments are due at beginning of the next class. A final project report will be due at the beginning of the final examination session.


Grading.  The project assignments are graded on (a) following and documentation of good methods, and (b) quality of analysis, design and/or implementation, depending on the assignment.


Standards of Conduct. Students are expected to conduct themselves in a professional and

courteous manner, as prescribed by the UTEP Standards of Conduct. Groups may discuss project assignments with other groups, but the solutions must be done by the group itself. Graded work should be unmistakably your own. You may not transcribe or copy a solution taken from another person, book, or other source, e.g., a Web page).  Professors are required to—and will—report academic dishonesty and any other violation of the Standards of Conduct to the Dean of Students.


Tests:  There will be no tests.


Web Design-Heuristics Paper (grad students only): Graduate students will write a short original paper that adds an additional Web-site design mistake or category of design mistake.


Grading (general):                                Grades will be based on the percentage of acceptable assignments turned in. That is, each assignment will be graded on a P/NP basis. As communication is an important part of usability testing, both content and writing will be evaluated for acceptability. Unacceptable assignments may be returned for revision and regrading. Students for whom 90 percent of all assignments (weights shown below) are turned in and acceptable will earn an “A.” The thresholds for “B”, “C” and “D” are 80 percent, 70 percent and 60 percent, respectively.


Grading (graduate students):                Project assignments: 50%

                                                            Design-heuristics assignments: 10%

                                                            Project report: 15%
Oral presentations: 10%
Paper: 15%


Grading (undergraduate students):        Project assignments: 60%
Design-heuristics assignments: 15%

                                                            Project report: 15%
Oral presentations: 10%