About the content
This course takes you through lessons 14 through 18 of CS6750: Human-Computer Interaction as taught in the Georgia Tech Online Master of Science in Computer Science program.
In this course, you’ll begin by learning the design life cycle. This is the process by which we investigate user needs, brainstorm potential designs, create prototypes, and evaluate those prototypes. This life cycle provides the structure for the third and fourth courses in this professional certificate.
A key part of the design life cycle, however, is human subjects research. In interface design, this involves asking users for information about what they do and what they need, and then asking them for feedback on the prototypes that you develop. In HCI more broadly, this may involve testing different ideas with users to see what facilitates the best user experience. Whenever we interact with users, though, we need to keep in mind users’ rights to privacy and transparency, and so we begin this course with a discussion of ethics in HCI. This is grounded in the university Institutional Review Board process, but also investigates the role of ethics in HCI in industry as well.
From there, you’ll move on to needfinding and requirements gathering. It is always tempting to jump straight into designing an interface based on our intuitive understanding of a task or need, but successful interface design always starts with an understanding of the users: who are they, what they do, and what they need. This involves both interacting directly with them via surveys and interviews, as well as observing them at a distance or even attempting the tasks ourselves. This concludes with an understanding of the requirements of any interface we create.
From there, you’ll move on to brainstorming design alternatives. Again, it is often tempting to jump straight to the design we have in mind, but successful interface design starts with the results of needfinding and attempts a more grounded investigation of possible solutions. Through this lesson, you’ll learn techniques for managing effective brainstorming sessions and approaches to exploring the ideas that are created including artifacts like user personas, interaction timelines, and storyboards.
Finally, you’ll conclude by learning about prototyping. Implementing an interface is a complicated process, and there is a risk that we may invest lots of time into an interface that is doomed to fail because we do not get user feedback on the idea. The goal of prototyping is to get an idea in front of users as quickly as possible to validate and improve it before we move on to the high pressures of implementation.
By the end of this course, you’ll have an understanding of the design life cycle and its first three major stages: needfinding, brainstorming, and prototyping. You’ll also understand the ethical implications of HCI research and how to safeguard users’ rights.
- The structure of the design life cycle: needfinding, brainstorming, prototyping, and evaluation.
- The value of research ethics and the importance of emphasizing the user’s rights.
- The role of Institutional Review Boards in governing university research.
- The importance of ethics in industry and the mechanisms for ensuring they are maintained.
- The importance of needfinding in the design life cycle.
- Mechanisms for active needfinding, including surveys, interviews, and focus groups.
- Approaches to personal needfinding, including participant observation and apprenticeship.
- Ways to observe organic interaction, such as naturalistic observation or investigation of hacks and workarounds.
- The data inventory, a structure for ensuring you understand your user and their problems.
- Approaches to brainstorming design ideas, both individually and in groups.
- Methods for further exploring design ideas, such as user personas and storyboards.
- The spectrum of prototyping, from low-fidelity to high-fidelity.
- The importance of low-fidelity prototypes in getting early feedback.
- Approaches to low-fidelity prototyping, such as paper prototypes and Wizard of Oz.
- Multi-level prototyping, or prototyping at variouslevels of abstraction.
Senior Research Associate at the College of Computing
Georgia Institute of Techology
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