HCI 440 Introduction to User-Centered Design

Craig Miller

Office: CDM 745
Fall 2020-2021
Class number: 10137
Section number: 701
M 5:45PM - 9:00PM
OLSYN CH000 Online Campus


Students learn and practice user-centered design (UCD) towards the development of an interactive computer system. To practice UCD, students learn to apply each of its components, which include user and task analysis, conceptual design, detailed design and evaluation. This course introduces the basics of these practices and sets the context for further studying them in the program's core courses.

Course Goals

By the end of the quarter, students will be able to:

  • Describe each of the phases in the UCD process
  • Practice at least one method for each of the UCD phases
  • Identify goals and problems that each of the UCD phases address
  • Articulate principles of UCD and how UCD phases implement them


The UX Book
1st Edition (2012) or 2nd Edition (2018)
Authors: Rex Hartson Pardha Pyla
Publisher: Morgan Kaufmann


10% 1 Individual Project
40% (10% each) 4 Team Projects
10% Quizzes (5% each)
25% Summary Report (Individual submission)
15% (30 points) Individual Contribution

All grades will be assigned a letter grade with a corresponding point value (A = 10, A- = 9, B+ = 8). The final grade will be calculated with a weighted average and assigned the closest corresponding letter grade.

The summary report is an individual submission due during finals week. It includes original insights, reflections or experiences for each of the phases in the user-centered design process. It takes the place of a final exam.

The score for individual contribution to class and team projects is based on contributions to class activities, documented contributions in team reports, observed team activities (in class, email or group message boards) and team member reports at the end of the quarter. Students who make solid contributions to their team projects and regularly participate in class (i.e. weekly contribution) receive at least an A- (9 points) of the contribution points. Weekly contribution includes zoom attendance and online posts.  Exceptional contributions may receive an A or an A+. Supplemental contribution points can be earned by participating in the CDM subject pool (0.5 additional point for each whole credit of participation, up to 1 additional point).

Team presentations occur in the last week of class. All students should contribute to the presentation, although all members do not need to be physically present for the presentation. At the end of the quarter every student is expected to submit a completed evaluation form for each group member.

Team projects will generally be completed in groups of three, four or five. To form groups, students review the non-profit web sites and submit preferences to work on them. Groups will then be formed based on the preferences. Most groups will consist of students from both the on-campus section and the online section. Some class time will be used to coordinate among group members. When possible, online members are encouraged to communicate with the in-class groups using collaborative tools such as Skype and chat programs.

All group members are jointly responsible for the entire assignment, although the group may assign primary roles to each group member. Generally, each group member will receive the same score on each project. However, in some cases, additional credit may go to those who make an exceptional contribution to a project and reduced credit to those who contribute little to a project. Any adjustment will be based on a variety of indications including group participation in class, contribution summaries in reports, and student feedback at the end of the quarter.


Graduate standing

Course Policies

Students are expected to attend every class or watch the lecture online.

Late assignments will be accepted up to 3 days late, with a 1 point penalty. Assignments submitted more than 3 days after the due date will not be accepted without an excused absence cleared by the dean of students office.

Additional assignments for extra credit will not be offered.

All grade challenges must be submitted in writing and include an explanation why the given score or grade should be reconsidered.

Tentative Schedule

Week Topic Reading Assignment
Sep 14 Course overview, goals of HCI, UCD vs UXD UX Book Ch. 1, 2 (Part 1, 2nd edition)  
Sep 21 Discovery methods, user and task analysis Ch. 3, 4, 7.5 (ch. 7, 8, 9, 2nd edition) Individual Assignment
Sep 28 Informing Design Ch. 5, 6, 7.5 (ch. 10, 11, 2nd edition)  
Oct 5 Conceptual Design, information architecture Ch. 7-8 (Part 3, 2nd edition), course notes Team Project 1
Oct 12 Detailed design Ch. 9 (ch. 17, 18, 2nd edition) Quiz 1
Oct 19 Theoretical foundations Course notes, ch. 20-21 (Part 7, 2nd edition) Team Project 2
Oct 26 Prototyping Ch. 11 (ch. 20, 2nd edition)  
Nov 2 Evaluation Ch. 12, 13 (Part 5, 2nd edition) Team Project 3
Nov 9 Advanced topics TBD Quiz 2
Nov 16 Project presentations, review Course notes and presentations Team Project 4
Nov 23     Summary Report

School policies:

Changes to Syllabus

This syllabus is subject to change as necessary during the quarter. If a change occurs, it will be thoroughly addressed during class, posted under Announcements in D2L and sent via email.

Online Course Evaluations

Evaluations are a way for students to provide valuable feedback regarding their instructor and the course. Detailed feedback will enable the instructor to continuously tailor teaching methods and course content to meet the learning goals of the course and the academic needs of the students. They are a requirement of the course and are key to continue to provide you with the highest quality of teaching. The evaluations are anonymous; the instructor and administration do not track who entered what responses. A program is used to check if the student completed the evaluations, but the evaluation is completely separate from the student’s identity. Since 100% participation is our goal, students are sent periodic reminders over three weeks. Students do not receive reminders once they complete the evaluation. Students complete the evaluation online in CampusConnect.

Academic Integrity and Plagiarism

This course will be subject to the university's academic integrity policy. More information can be found at If you have any questions be sure to consult with your professor.

Academic Policies

All students are required to manage their class schedules each term in accordance with the deadlines for enrolling and withdrawing as indicated in the University Academic Calendar. Information on enrollment, withdrawal, grading and incompletes can be found at

Students with Disabilities

Students who feel they may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the instructor privately to discuss their specific needs. All discussions will remain confidential.
To ensure that you receive the most appropriate accommodation based on your needs, contact the instructor as early as possible in the quarter (preferably within the first week of class), and make sure that you have contacted the Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD) at:
Lewis Center 1420, 25 East Jackson Blvd.
Phone number: (312)362-8002
Fax: (312)362-6544
TTY: (773)325.7296