Design and Build


Debaleena C.
Email: debchatt at uic dot edu
Personal Webpage:
Lab Webpage:

Course Information

Credit Hours 4
Class Time Tuesday & Thursday, 2:00pm — 3:15pm
Class Location ERF 2068    [map1]    [map2]
Instructor's Office 1135 SEO    [map]
Office Hours Wednesday, 2pm — 3pm at SEL-W 1032    [map]
Teaching Assistant Nina Sakhnini   |   nsakhn2 at uic
TA Office Hours Tuesday, 11:00am—12:00pm   |   Friday 1:00pm—2:00pm   |   SEL-W 1032
Link to Piazza Piazza

Course Description

The computer-user interface: media, languages, interaction techniques, user modeling. Human factors in software development. Theory, experimental methods, evaluation, tools. Project required. Course Information: Previously listed as EECS 578.

Recommended Prerequisite(s)

CS 422: User Interface Design and Programming. Students who have not taken CS 422 or any human-computer interaction course are recommended to read The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman before the class begins.

NOTE: Students enrolled in any department of the College of Engineering (COE) must be proficient in at least one high-level programming language (e.g., C++, Java, JavaScript, Objective C) — enough to complete coding assignments and build functional prototypes. COE students not comfortable with building systems are strongly advised not to take this course.

Students from non-COE departments will have non-coding assignments and the option of either design-centered or analytical final projects. Either some proficiency in design methods (e.g., participatory design, value-sensitive design) or data analysis is expected, such as conversation analysis, grounded theory, interaction analysis, linear regression, exploratory factor analysis, structural equation modeling, or multivariate analysis.

General Guidelines to Use the Syllabus

Students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with the syllabus. The instructor is responsible for being responsive to the diverse needs of the enrolled students and making necessary modifications to this syllabus, which is to be treated as a living document.

Blackboard will be used to post course grades. Submit individual assignments via Blackboard and email group assignments to the instructor (cc-ing group members).

Piazza will be used to post announcements, FAQs, discussion points, course-related general queries, and detailed instructions when deemed necessary.

The course webpage will contain links to readings, general instructions, and class schedule.

Students are responsible to keep themselves updated with class announcements.

Why take this class?

You probably cannot imagine computing without a mouse or searching without Google. As computers pervade every aspect of our lives, it is crucial to understand how we can reap their benefits in bettering human lives, not just through algorithmic computations but also human-computer interactions (HCI). To translate successfully computing innovations into daily-life aids, a variety of social, political, and human factor issues needs to be considered. In this class, we will learn about some of these fundamental HCI issues when designing computing systems. We will learn how to build a system beginning with the user requirements, how to envision computing solutions to society's hard problems, and how to evaluate the effectiveness of systems built. This class will draw from multiple disciplines, namely psychology, design, and sociology, to help students learn how to design better systems. By the end of the class, you should be able to figure out why certain systems are widely adopted, when others fail.

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Understand basic HCI theory, terms, principles, and conceptual models
  • Apply HCI principles toward user interface design.
  • Analyze user needs and requirements.
  • Translate user requirements into system prototypes.
  • Sketch design ideas of a user interaction concept.
  • Design iteratively a user interface based on formative evaluation results.
  • Apply evaluation and usability testing methods to interactive products to validate design decisions.
  • Recommend appropriate evaluation protocols to evaluate user experience.
  • Ideate, sketch, elaborate, validate and communicate user experiences and interface designs

Course Texts

It is recommended that students get a personal copy of the required course text. Other course materials will be provided by the instructor.

Title: Designing the User Interface: Strategies for Effective Human-Computer Interaction
Authors: Ben Shneiderman, Catherine Plaisant, Maxine Cohen, Steven Jacobs, Niklas Elmqvist, and Nicholas Diakopoulos
Copyright: 2017
Edition: Sixth
Publisher: Pearson


Title: Human Factors in Simple and Complex Systems
Authors: Robert W. Proctor and Trisha Van Zandt
Copyright: 2008
Edition: Second
Publisher: CRC Press
Title: Sketching User Experiences: Getting the Design Right and the Right Design
Authors: Bill Buxton
Copyright: 2007
Edition: First
Publisher: Morgan Kaufmann

Available online from the UIC library

Class Schedule

Readings are due before the corresponding lecture. Students are encouraged to use the lecture pro-actively to get their doubts cleared up and questions answered.

Each class (2pm — 3:15pm) will essentially constitute of a lecture by the instructor, student presentations, seminar-type paper discussions, or a dedicated practice lab.

Articles marked with will be discussed in class. Posting discussion points/questions on Piazza is required, and counted toward course credit.

All assignments are due by 11:59pm CST on the due date.

Week Class agenda Readings Assignments
Week 1
Aug 29
Course introduction and student introductions
Syllabus None
Aug 31 HCI design Lecture
[slides from Interaction Design book]
[conceptualization example 1]
[conceptualization example 2]
[technology probes]
[cultural probes]
Shneiderman et al., 2017. Designing the User Interface: Strategies for Effective Human-Computer Interaction. Chapter 4 (Design), pp. 99—137. None
Week 2
Sep 5
Psychology of HCI Lecture (part 1)
[modeling human bimanual action]
[monte carlo simulation]
[Bayesian parameter estimation]
Proctor & Zandt, 2008. Human Factors in Simple and Complex Systems. Chapters 3 (Reliability and Human Error in Systems) and 4 (Human Information Processing). pp. 53—107. HW 1 out
CITI Certification from UIC IRB due
CITI completion certificate example
Sep 7 User Evaluation Lecture
[slides form Interaction Design book: Chapters 10, 12, 13, and 14]
Shneiderman et al., 2017. Designing the User Interface: Strategies for Effective Human-Computer Interaction. Chapter 5 (Evaluation and the User Experience), pp. 140—179. None
Week 3
Sep 12
Psychology of HCI Lecture (part 2)
Proctor & Zandt, 2008. Human Factors in Simple and Complex Systems. Chapter 9 (Attention and the Assessment of Mental Workload), pp. 229—259. None
Sep 14 Introduction to HCI Research Topics Lecture
[the history of button]
None HW 1 due
Week 4
Sep 19
Student presentations; project proposals
None None
Sep 21 Student presentations; project proposals None HW2 out
Week 5
Sep 26
Research Methods in HCI Lecture
[design of experiments (basics)]
[the big hole in HCI research]
[discussion points]
Oulasvirta, A., & Hornbæk, K. (2016). HCI Research as Problem-Solving. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 4956—4967, ACM. [paper]    Project proposals due
Sep 28 User Interfaces Lecture
[metaphors and the UI]
[psychology of metaphors]
Shneiderman et al., 2017. Designing the User Interface: Strategies for Effective Human-Computer Interaction. Chapter 7 (Direct Manipulation and Immersive Environments), pp. 198—224. None
Week 6
Oct 3
User Navigation Lecture
[flat-vs-deep navigation hierarchy]
[theory of affordances—by Gibson]
[navigation in the mobile web]
[what is interaction]
Shneiderman et al., 2017. Designing the User Interface: Strategies for Effective Human-Computer Interaction. Chapter 8 (Fluid Navigation), pp. 240—264. None
Oct 5 Command Languages Lecture
Shneiderman et al., 2017. Designing the User Interface: Strategies for Effective Human-Computer Interaction. Chapter 9 (Expressive Human and Command Languages), pp. 278—295. HW2 due
Week 7
Oct 10
Lab: In-Class Sketching
[slides] [sketching-workshop] [slides from the sketching workbook]
Buxton, 2007, Sketching User Experiences: Getting the Design Right and the Right Design, pp. 105—151. None
Oct 12 Review for Mid-Term
None None
Week 8
Oct 17
Mid-term exam
Oct 19 Devices Lecture
Shneiderman et al., 2017. Designing the User Interface: Strategies for Effective Human-Computer Interaction. Chapter 10 (Devices), pp. 302—328. None
Week 9
Oct 24
Student presentations; design iterations
None None
Oct 26 Student presentations; design iterations None None
Week 10
Oct 31
Formative Evaluation Greenberg, S., & Buxton, B. (2008). Usability evaluation considered harmful (some of the time). In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 111—120. ACM. [paper]    HW3 out
Requirement specs + Sketch diary due
Nov 2 Lab: In-Class Formative Evaluation
[example 1]
[example 2]
[example 3]
None None
Week 11
Nov 7
Information Search Lecture
Shneiderman et al., 2017. Designing the User Interface: Strategies for Effective Human-Computer Interaction. Chapter 15 (Information Search), pp. 478—502. None
Nov 9 HCI in Viz lecture
Shneiderman et al., 2017. Designing the User Interface: Strategies for Effective Human-Computer Interaction. Chapter 16 (Data Visualization), pp. 510—527. Formative evaluation due
Week 12
Nov 14
Advanced topics: Interaction Proxemics TBD None
Nov 16 Advanced topics: Collocated Interactions TBD None
Week 13
Nov 21
Summative Evaluation TBD HW3 due
Nov 23 Thanksgiving Break
Week 14
Nov 28
Lab: In-Class Usability Testing
None None
Nov 30 Advanced topics: Gestural Interactions TBD None
Week 15
Dec 5
Final presentations
Dec 7 Final presentations
Discussion   |   Lab   |   Lecture


All assignments in this course, except final project deliverables, are individually graded. Collaborative learning is strongly encouraged, but students should aim to master the technical skills as an independent quality.

Class participation (10%)

To receive a grade for discussion points, students are required to post discussion points by the end of the day before the class AND be present in class to discuss them.

Students who did not submit discussion points may still participate in class discussions and earn some class participation points.

CITI Certification (5%)

CITI course link. Take the Group 2. Human Subjects Research (HSR): Social – Behavioral - Educational Research Investigators and Key Personnel test and submit a completed training certificate to receive grade.

CITI completion certificate example

Homeworks (20%)

Mid-term exam (15%)

The mid-term exam will include materials covered until week 7. Students may bring a single A4 page cheat sheet to the exam. No books, articles, or electronic devices are allowed. The 45-minutes exam will contain multiple-choice and short-answer questions.

Course project (50%)

Project deliverables include presentations, short write-ups, a website describing the design process, and a video showcase. The video and website should be presented during the final presentation.

Guidelines and grading rubric for project deliverables will be discussed in class.

Students are encouraged to choose one of the following research areas for their projects. Students may propose other projects relevant to HCI; however instructor approval is required.

Some relevant HCI conferences/journals: CHI, CSCW, UbiComp, UIST, AVI, IUI, ISS, TOCHI, Human-Computer Interaction, Interacting with Computers, Computers in Human Behavior

NOTE: Conceptualizing a computing application and successfully prototyping is required. The project must consist of original research. The goal is to have the final deliverable to be of sufficient quality and novelty to submit to an HCI conference as a poster or full paper.

Programming language requirement: As long as it serves the course's learning objective, students are free to use any programming language(s) for this class. Students are encouraged to use their strong suit.

Project funding: In the spirit of many past HCI class projects spinning into successful start-ups and/or publications (e.g., AnswerDash, apropose, lumenous, and many more), I may fund up to three class projects. Meaning, I will buy (and loan you) equipment, such as sensors, Arduino kits, wearables, or Hololens, and fund your user studies (participant compensation, when necessary). I will select team's project proposals based on novelty, feasibility, potential broader impact, and team members' ability to complete the project successfully.

Students will also have the opportunity to use the COE Makerspace resources to build physical computing prototypes.

Past student projects

"Bachao" - Your personal safety application

SAGE2 Classroom Edition


Whiteboard - When Blackboard and Piazza lend an ear

Class presentations

Project groups in this class will have 3 to 5 members. The instructor will consider 1 to 2-member groups on a case-to-case basis. Project deliverables must be commensurate with the group size. Each project group will deliver multiple presentations—proposal, design, and final demonstration. Each group member must present at least once. Each presentation will be 10 minutes long and followed by a Q&A. The final presentation will be 10—15 minutes long and followed by a Q&A.

Presentations will count toward the grade corresponding to each part of the project part—in addition to other deliverables. Students are encouraged to use the feedback provided during the presentations from peers and the instructor toward next steps.

Class presentation and class participation grading rubric—available here.

Finally, when in doubt, always ask the instructor or TA.

Assessment & Evaluation

Discussion points (4 classes) and overall class participation 10%
Homework (3 sets) 20%
Mid-term exam 15%
CITI training 5%
Course project 50%
project proposal 5%
req specs 10%
sketch diary 10%
formative evaluation 10%
final presentation 15%
Total 100%



This class will follow absolute grading (not in a curve), meaning you'll not be graded against others in the class.

Attendance, Assignment Deadlines, and Late Policy:

All assignments are due by the date and time posted on the syllabus. There is a late policy in this class. Late assignments (up to 1 day past the due date) will receive a 10% reduction on that particular assignment. Assignments later than 24 hours will receive an additional 10% reduction. Assignments later than 48 hours will not receive a grade. If you will not be able to meet an assignment deadline for any unavoidable circumstances, you are encouraged to contact the instructor in advance with a request for extension. However, a request does not guarantee an extension, and will only be given at the discretion of the instructor if allowed by the university policies.

Supplementary Materials

This course aims at assisting students to achieve an intermediate level of mastery in HCI skills. The course requires a variety of skills, including designing user interfaces, conceptualizing ideas, building computing prototypes, user evaluation, data collection, analysis, and interpretation. Because enrolled students may have different exposure to these different skills, this section lists additional materials that can be helpful to be successful in this course.

This is a fast-paced course, with multi-disciplinary reading materials, and students are strongly encouraged to pro-actively use the supplementary materials (freely available online) as deemed necessary.

Website Available support
Stack Overflow
Your one-stop shop for common coding problems.

Following courses are related to this course:

  • Design Thinking for Innovation
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Bayesian Statistics: From Concept to Data Analysis
  • Social Computing
  • Designing, Running, and Analyzing Experiments
  • Interactivity with JavaScript
Helpful courses:
  • Introduction to Video Editing
  • Premiere Pro CC Essential Training (2015)

Guidelines & Policies

Attendance Policy. Class attendance is not mandatory; however, research indicates that students who attend class are more likely to be successful. You are strongly encouraged to attend every class. Lectures are not recorded and there may not be slides. If you are unable to attend class, you should consider asking a classmate to take notes for you.

Academic Misconduct. All students should aspire to the highest standards of academic integrity. Using another student’s work on an assignment, cheating on a test, not quoting or citing references correctly, or any other form of dishonesty or plagiarism shall result in a grade of zero on the item and possibly an F in the course. Incidences of academic misconduct shall be referred to the Department Head and repeated violations shall result in dismissal from the program.

All students are responsible for reading, understanding, and applying the Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities and Conduct and in particular the section on academic misconduct. Refer to UIC student affairs.

All students are strongly encouraged to read what constitutes plagiarism here and complete this short tutorial here. You must document the difference between your writing and that of others. Use quotation marks in addition to a citation, page number, and reference whenever writing someone else’s words (e.g., following the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association).

Cheating. Cheating is an attempt to use or provide unauthorized assistance, materials, information, or study aids in any form and in any academic exercise or environment. A student must not use external assistance on any “in-class” or “take-home” examination, unless the instructor specifically has authorized external assistance. This prohibition includes, but is not limited to, the use of tutors, books, notes, calculators, computers, and wireless communication devices. A student must not use another person as a substitute in the taking of an examination or quiz, nor allow other persons to conduct research or to prepare work, without advanced authorization from the instructor to whom the work is being submitted. A student must not use materials from a commercial term paper company, files of papers prepared by other persons, or submit documents found on the Internet. A student must not collaborate with other persons on a particular project and submit a copy of a written report that is represented explicitly or implicitly as the student’s individual work. A student must not use any unauthorized assistance in a laboratory, at a computer terminal, or on fieldwork. A student must not steal examinations or other course materials, including but not limited to, physical copies and photographic or electronic images. A student must not submit substantial portions of the same academic work for credit or honors more than once without permission of the instructor or program to whom the work is being submitted. A student must not, without authorization, alter a grade or score in any way, nor alter answers on a returned exam or assignment for credit.

Fabrication. A student must not falsify or invent any information or data in an academic exercise including, but not limited to, records or reports, laboratory results, and citation to the sources of information.

Plagiarism. Plagiarism is defined as presenting someone else’s work, including the work of other students, as one’s own. Any ideas or materials taken from another source for either written or oral use must be fully acknowledged, unless the information is common knowledge. What is considered “common knowledge” may differ from course to course. A student must not adopt or reproduce ideas, opinions, theories, formulas, graphics, or pictures of another person without acknowledgment. A student must give credit to the originality of others and acknowledge indebtedness whenever: directly quoting another person’s actual words, whether oral or written; using another person’s ideas, opinions, or theories; paraphrasing the words, ideas, opinions, or theories of others, whether oral or written; borrowing facts, statistics, or illustrative material; or offering materials assembled or collected by others in the form of projects or collections without acknowledgment

Interference. A student must not steal, change, destroy, or impede another student’s work, nor should the student unjustly attempt, through a bribe, a promise of favors or threats, to affect any student’s grade or the evaluation of academic performance. Impeding another student’s work includes, but is not limited to, the theft, defacement, or mutilation of resources so as to deprive others of the information they contain.

Violation of Course Rules. A student must not violate course rules established by a department, the course syllabus, verbal or written instructions, or the course materials that are rationally related to the content of the course or to the enhancement of the learning process in the course.

Facilitating Academic Dishonesty. A student must not intentionally or knowingly help or attempt to help another student to commit an act of academic misconduct, nor allow another student to use his or her work or resources to commit an act of misconduct.

Right to revise. The instructor reserves the right to make changes to this syllabus as necessary and, in such an event, will notify students of the changes immediately.

Grievance Procedures. UIC is committed to the most fundamental principles of academic freedom, equality of opportunity, and human dignity involving students and employees. Freedom from discrimination is a foundation for all decision making at UIC. Students are encouraged to study the University’s Nondiscrimination Statement. Students are also urged to read the document Public Formal Grievance Procedures. Information on these policies and procedures is available on the University web pages of the Office of Access and Equality.

Course Evaluations. Because student ratings of instructors and courses provide very important feedback to instructors and are also used by administrators in evaluating instructors, it is extremely important for students to complete confidential course evaluations online known as the Campus Program for Student Evaluation of Teaching evaluation. You will receive an email from the Office of Faculty Affairs inviting you to complete your course evaluations and will receive an email confirmation when you have completed each one.

For more information, please refer to the UIC Course Evaluation Handbook.

Results for the “six core questions” will be published on the UIC course evaluation website.