04-800-C   User Experience and User Interface Engineering

Location: Africa

Units: 12

Semester Offered: Spring

Course discipline


Course description

There are over 1 billion websites and 3 million mobile apps in the world. How can you design a website or application that can compete to attract users and gain their loyalty when the average app loses 77% of users 3 days after being installed? This course provides a practical introduction on what constitutes good and bad user experiences and how to use design (interfaces, interactions, content) to provide engaging experiences. Students will learn about the human decision-making process, standards, and guidelines on interface and user experience design, user research methods, and techniques for prototyping and evaluating interface designs and user experiences. The course will be taught through lectures, design labs, and group discussions on scientific papers, case studies, and industry reports. Students will also undertake a group project that involves user research and iterative software development and user testing.

Learning objectives

Students will be introduced to the field of user experience and user interface design. They will learn about how people make decisions and how the layout of an application or website can influence the actions that people take and how choices such as interruption through notifications and personalization can alter the overall experience with an application. Papers on in-the-wild deployments of various applications will be read individually and discussed in class to shed light on how people perceive different design choices (e.g., incorporating game elements in serious apps) and to debate the usefulness of these choices. Students will also learn about developing an application vision or goal after conducting research on the users’ values and current practices to identify gaps/needs. The ethical considerations in undertaking such human-centered research will be covered. Students will then practice how to use storyboards, personas, and use case descriptions to design an application that meets this vision and how to apply various prototyping techniques such as paper drawings, wizard-of-oz, and programmed applications to assess the design choices made through the group project, which requires user experiments. Heuristic methods (form-based) of user interface design will also be introduced and students will practice these skills in class by analyzing existing websites or applications. User interface design is evolving with techniques such as artificial intelligence being used both to propose new designs and to personalize interfaces based on the user’s context. There is growing interest and research in augmented and virtual reality, speech-based interfaces, and transmitting the sense of touch (haptics). These emerging research areas and their use cases will be covered through paper readings and a write-up of a mini literature review.


After completing this course, students should be able to:

  • Describe the psychological influences behind human decisions and behaviors
  • Explain the different components of the User Experience Honeycomb
  • Design and conduct qualitative and quantitative user research studies to identify user needs
  • Develop and use low to high-fidelity prototypes as part of the product design process
  • Apply empirical and heuristic techniques for user interface and user experience analysis and evaluation
  • Describe the evolution of user interfaces and HCI research from past to present and emerging interfaces and interactions paradigms (e.g., interfaces that convey the sense of touch (haptic) and speech-based interfaces)
  • Critically review literature to identify knowledge gaps and write a concept note for proposed future research

Content details

  • Introduction to human decision-making process and user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) engineering
  • Evolution of user interfaces and interaction paradigms
  • Conducting user research for requirements gathering
  • Developing an application concept: storyboards, personas, use cases
  • Prototyping techniques and tools
  • User evaluation of interface design
  • User experience evaluation (laboratory and in the wild)
  • Heuristic methods of interface evaluation
  • Standards and guidelines for UI/UX design


Edith Luhanga