Course Overview

Course Description

This course provides an introduction to human-computer interaction and the design process. Students will learn methods and skills for designing and prototyping interactive systems. The course covers a design process from the initial formulation of a design problem to creation of digital prototypes. The class structure is a mix of lectures, classroom activities, and design critiques by peers and course staff. The course is overwhelmingly organized around a group project, in which students:

Learning Objectives

Project Theme

This year’s project theme will be “Designing for diversity”! You will be encouraged to design for groups of people who are different from yourself and/or to design for inclusiveness, connecting people from different backgrounds.

Computers and the Internet have changed many people’s lives. However, many applications that we use in our daily lives are developed by Westerners and embed the developers’ beliefs in what is useful and usable. For example, Facebook is extremely popular in many Western countries, but has failed to attract a large user base in Russia. Facebook is also not as popular with elderly and teens as it is with people between 25 and 45 of age. Similarly, Uber and Lyft have gained much attraction with economically prosperous young professionals, but are often seen with suspicion in economically strained parts of the US. Most of these problems in designing adequate technology and gaining market share arise because designers and developers can be insufficiently aware of the beliefs, preferences, needs, and prior experiences of people who are different from themselves.

Over the course of the quarter, you will work as a group on designing a system to an activity or relationship within the particular context of a group of people that is not particularly well supported by current tools. Example groups that you could design for are:

As part of your project, you will need to define what a specific group’s needs are that your project tries to support and what activity you would like to design that might help address this need. Think about how that activity is currently supported via technology, what doesn’t work about current ways of supporting it, and how your solution will do this better. The specificity of addressing a particular group of people allows you to deeply think about what makes the group unique and how you would best want to support them. So, dive in and see what you can come up with!

Project Structure

Projects are organized around four assignments, each consisting of several milestones:

Assignment information here is likely suggestive of the final page, but remains subject to change.

Sample projects from prior offerings include:

Note that details of assignments may have changed since prior offerings, so their reports may not map to the current project. Also note these samples are intended to illustrate a variety of approaches, none of which is intended to be ideal or exemplary. Be sure to understand and carefully consider project requirements and feedback from the course staff in the context of your own work.


A small set of readings are assigned throughout the quarter, with additional resources also made available.

Basic Information

Contact: Email all instructors at cse440-instr [at]

Class Time & Location: Tuesdays & Thursdays, 10:30-11:50 OUG 141

Section Times & Locations:

Office Hours:

Scheduled hours are held most weeks, but check the calendar:

Other meetings are possible by appointment.

Course Staff:

Katharina Reinecke

Katharina Reinecke

Ravi Karkar

Ravi Karkar

Tanu Khandelwal

Tanu Khandelwal

Ashish Chaudhary

Ashish Chaudhary

Elisabeth Chin

Elisabeth Chin


Strive to do good work because you care about your own opportunities to learn, including the opportunities this course provides in working with a group in an intensive project.

The overall course grade will be computed as follows:

Each assignment will also provide a point breakdown intended to convey how it will be graded. Design is an inherently subjective practice, and so grading in this course is necessarily subjective. The stated project requirements are the minimum, leaving room for groups to wow us with your work.

Because the course is designed around feedback on project milestones, grades given to those milestones indicate that you have invested sufficient effort and insight at the time of the milestone. You will get feedback and are expected to continue acting upon that feedback in your design process. The bulk of project grades is therefore attached to the final deliverables, which are evaluated on their quality.

We expect groups to take collective responsibility and to resolve any coordination issues. The course staff is always happy to make suggestions with regard to your effort and coordination. If an issue needs to be raised with the course staff, we expect it to be raised early enough to be addressed. If necessary, we reserve the ability to adjust an individual’s grade with regard to the group project.


Many assignments are due “the night before class”. We will implement this in Canvas as 11:59pm. In order to be prepared to give you feedback, the course staff must have your submission in the morning. Submitting the day of class, just before class, or in class is therefore unacceptable, risking zero credit.

Submissions should be in PDF format (i.e., not plain text, not Word). The PDF should be printable, containing everything we need to review and grade the assignment (e.g., your name). The course staff has a large number of submissions to manage, so format and completeness issues are problematic.


This course website lives on GitHub:

You can submit pull requests to update the webpage, and you will publish project webpages via pull request.