Lecture Topics in HCI, instructor: Sheelagh Carpendale
credits: Saul Greenberg
Contents for: CPSC 481

Design Guidelines and Usability Heuristics

Guidelines to design have a long tradition in HCI. There are literally thousands of guidelines now available, in many forms and variations. These tend to fall in the categories of: motherhoods (or general guidelines); specific guidelines that say exactly what should be done in a given situation; style guides that are particular to a look and feel; and widget-level guidelines that are embedded within the actual toolkit.

Most of this module develops general design guidelines, detailing what they mean and how the interface should cater to them. I also show how guidelines can be used as a low-cost evaluation technique via "usability heuristics". Through this method, several evaluators use the guidelines as a way to structure their analysis of the interface. While it does not require users' involvement, it still manages to capture many major usability problems.




Required Readings

Readings from Baecker Grudin Buxton and Greenberg


The Piano Tutor presents a piano tutoring tool that is in the language of the user ie, input devices are the piano (mostly), and output is via score annotation, music playing, and video lessons. It also demonstrates how error correction is done, and how help is provided in context. The Sonic Finder shows how everyday sound can be used to provide feedback of user actions.

In-Class Teaching tips

With each guideline, I do a heuristic evaluation of two interfaces in class. The interfaces are Cheap Shop (already used in the task centered system design section), and Mantel (see the Nielson and Molich source below). The students analyze the interface in class and come up with potential problems.

There is also a hands on component. If students do final projects, they are evaluated via the heuristic evaluation method. Students get a check-sheet ahead of time with the guidelines written on it. I schedule a half-hour with each project group, and do a heuristic evaluation of their system, discussing the results with them.

Major sources used to prepare lecture material