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. Importantly, this class does not involve coding and instead, fully focuses on the design process.
The class structure is a mix of lectures, hands-on activities, and design critiques by peers and course staff. The course is overwhelmingly organized around a group project, in which students:
Contact: Please do not email us separately; instead, email all instructors at email@example.com. Course staff will try to respond to emails within 24 hours. If you have an urgent matter, please place “URGENT” in the subject line of the email. We cannot guarantee that we will respond immediately to urgent emails, but we will do our best.
We will also be using Ed for asking/answering questions, Internet connection or Zoom issues, etc. during class and asynchronously. TAs will be monitoring Ed so your question may be answered more quickly there.
Class Time & Location: Tuesdays & Thursdays, 11:30 AM - 12:50 PM, Location: OUG 136
Section Times & Locations:
We will take attendance and monitor for your active participation both in class and sections. Your attendance will count towards your participation grade and may impact your contribution to the group project (details in grading policy below).
Why? This is a very hands-on class in which we will alternate between lectures and group exercises in class and in sections. You will be expected to take part in interactive discussions, group presentations and critique, breakout activities, etc. In short, this is not your usual class! We require that students attend every class and section. Please be on time to all classes and sections as your fellow group members will otherwise be waiting for you to start working on your shared project. Likewise, please do not plan to leave before class ends. Thanks for working with us to make this class a great experience for all!
If you are unable to attend due to sickness or a family emergency, please contact the course staff AND your group members in advance in order for your absence to be excused.
Will there be remote attendance?
Expect to attend every class in person. However, since we are still in a pandemic, there may be reasons why you may not feel comfortable coming to class in person. If you are feeling any symptoms or you need to quarantine after an exposure, but you are otherwise able to attend the class synchronously, please reach out to the staff to receive permission to participate remotely for that period of time. If you are unsure about whether you should come in or not, definitely reach out to us to ask! We will do our best to be accommodating.
For only those folks who do get permission, we will have a live Zoom meeting where you can join from a remote location. From the Zoom meeting you will be able to listen to the lecture and participate in any in-class activities on your own. You can also ask questions via the Zoom chat, and a TA will be monitoring and can respond to you in chat but you will not be able to use your microphone to speak up, and the instructor will not be able to monitor anything happening in Zoom. Once any group activities begin, the Zoom meeting will end, and you can join your group’s activities via a video call with one of your group members. Zoom links for all lectures can be found in Canvas in the Zoom tab. Remember that this option is only for people who have received permission from the staff to attend remotely for a designated period of time due to an issue related to the pandemic. If you have not gotten permission to participate remotely, any attendance and participation in Zoom will not count towards your participation grade.
Will there be recordings? We will record the parts of the class that cover lecture content and will also post lecture slides online. However, we reiterate that much of this class is interactive and includes discussions, group activities, and other interactive elements which will not be captured in the recording. You can use the recordings and slides to review content covered in class, but please do not rely on being able to do so as you will miss an integral part of the class experience.
It will be helpful to have a few sheets of white paper and pencils/pens available since most classes will involve some kind of sketching on paper. You are welcome to use online tools and/or tablets for these exercises if you feel like they let you sketch as you would on a piece of paper. Some activities will also require a smartphone with a camera you can use to take a photo of what you’ve sketched and upload it online if you do use paper. Please try to keep the phone away from you otherwise though :) Finally, please bring a laptop to class as sometimes we have in-class activities that involve using your web browser. But we encourage you to not use your laptop (unless you are taking notes) outside of these activities.
We do not teach how to use specific software packages in this class, and we usually also do not require the use of specific software, but instead leave this up to each student and team to decide.
That said, in previous offerings of the class, students often found Figma, a collaborative interface design tool, useful for supporting design critiques. Once we have established teams, each team will get a board on which they can upload any design artifacts they produce. Fellow classmates and the teaching team will be able to see your progress and provide feedback. We will also be using the tool Marvel to support user playtests of your prototypes.
In addition to Figma and Marvel, we will occasionally recommend the use of Miro, an online visual collaboration tool that supports sketching, brainstorming, and online white board etc. Teams should agree with each other on which tool to use.
Outside of in-class activities that require the use of your laptop or phone, please keep this in mind:
All of these things are important during a lecture but are also important when another group is presenting their work! Give others your full and undivided attention, and they will do the same for you.
This course welcomes all students of all backgrounds. The computer science and computer engineering industries have significant lack of diversity. This is due to a lack of sufficient past efforts by the field toward even greater diversity, equity, and inclusion. The Allen School seeks to create a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable environment for our community and our field. You should expect and demand to be treated by your classmates and the course staff with respect. If any incident occurs that challenges this commitment to a supportive, diverse, inclusive, and equitable environment, please let the instructor know so the issue can be addressed.
If you have any questions about disability or religious accommodations, please refer to university policies regarding disability accommodations or religious accommodations. Feel free to also contact us. For any family accommodations, please do not hesitate to contact the course staff, we're here for you.
Thank you all for working with us on making this remote learning experience as smooth as possible!
Much of the work involved in this course revolves around a group project. You will be in charge of forming a group of 3-4 people in your section near the start of the quarter. The first section meeting will be dedicated to getting to know your fellow section members and finding a group.
In recent years there has been a growing interest from the public on the effect human activity will have on the climate in the future and how individuals contribute to this problem in their daily lives. Because of this, the project theme for this quarter will be “Sustainability”! This can relate broadly to designing for users who are interested in living more sustainably by providing them structure to do so.
Your team’s goal is to choose a group of people that face difficulty making sustainable decisions, and then design a product that influences their behavior to help them meet their goals. You may target any relevant user groups, such as high school students, car owners, clothes shoppers, people living in the city, or parents! However, we encourage you to try to stretch yourselves and pick a user group that you all do not consider yourself a member of; this is so that you will not rely too much on your own experiences during user research as personal biases can potentially affect your research findings. Over the course of the quarter, your team will work on designing a system to help this group of people make decisions that let them live more sustainably on a daily basis.
You should identify activities your user group participates in that are potentially environmentally unsustainable and consider how your design will enable them to make eco-friendly choices. Think about how you can leverage technology to support modifying users’ activities to make them more environmentally friendly, or ways to persuade your users to change their behavior, or support them in their sustainability goals. Potential design solutions that support activities within these domains could include (but aren’t limited to) providing a map of local green businesses, locations of nearby recycling centers, tracking a household's food waste, or an app that sells second hand clothes.
Here are examples of prior projects from similar courses with target groups and ideas that would be relevant under this theme:
As part of your project, you will need to define what a specific group’s needs are that your project can help support, and what activity you would like to design to help address this need. While your design may not be able to address this head on, it may be useful to consider the conditions that allowed people's adulting difficulties and stresses to arise while conducting user research and learning from your target group. Think about how the activity you chose is currently supported via technology (or not), what doesn’t work about current ways of supporting it, and how your solution will do this better. Finally, be specific in the group you select! 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!
Projects are organized around four assignments, each consisting of several milestones:
Here are links to projects from prior offerings that can give you a feel for the type and scope of projects students have embarked on:
Note that we have significantly revised this class and details of assignments have changed since prior offerings. The websites and reports linked above do not reflect the assignments of the current class. For example, prior offerings of this class required a website for the final project, while this year the assignments do not include a website. Also note that 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.
Outside of participation in activities during class and the assignments related to the group project, this class will also feature a final exam during the second-to-last week of class in person in our regular class time. The exam will be open-book (as in you can use any materials from the class lectures or your notes during the exam) but you will not be allowed to use any electronic devices during the exam. The subject of the exam will be on the topics covered in class lectures, and as mentioned, recordings and slides from all lectures will be available for you to use in studying. We will also be holding optional study and Q&A sessions in advance of the exam.
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 on an intensive project.
The overall course grade will be computed as follows (summing up to 100 points):
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 participation and assignment grades based on their demonstrated contribution.
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 names). We will use Gradescope for groups to submit their assignments and receive feedback.
Generally, we expect that all assignments will be turned in on time according to their deadline on Gradescope. This is a fast-paced course, with many elements of the project depending on prior elements. Similarly, the course staff's ability to give feedback relies on timely submissions (e.g., course staff will often review your submission quickly after they are submitted to be ready for activities in section or lecture).
With that being said, if your group feels that you could really benefit from an extension or there is some kind of emergency impacting your ability to turn in assignments, please contact us BEFORE the submission deadline. We will do our best to be flexible and work with you to come up with a plan so that your group stays on track. Except in extreme circumstances, we will typically not be able to give an extension of more than 1 day.
Please write and submit a personal contribution statement using this Google Form every time that you submit a group assignment. This allows you to personally specify what proportion you contributed to the work done by the group. Please note that we will not grade submissions where this statement is missing from any group member. There will be a check in Gradescope reminding you that every group member must do this.
An example contribution statement for Assignment 1b is:
Please know that we do not expect everyone to contribute equally to each assignment, but you should try to work as a team and support each other. Please come to us early if you are dealing with unresolved issues regarding unequal contributions. During the quarter, we may solicit private feedback regarding group dynamics from members.
The University of Washington acknowledges the Coast Salish peoples of this land, the land which touches the shared waters of all tribes and bands within the Suquamish, Tulalip and Muckleshoot nations.