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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Julie A Kientz
HCDE 518
Seattle Campus

User-Centered Design

Explores the user-centered design paradigm from a broad perspective, emphasizing how user research and prototype assessment can be integrated into different phases of the design process. Students learn to think like a user-centered designer and carry out activities that are key to user-centered design. Offered: jointly with IND E 545; W.

Class description

HCDE 518 is an introduction to the user centered design process and is oriented toward practical meth-ods for approaching a design problem. Design is a unique form of inquiry. We design whenever we change some existing situation into a preferred one. The difficulty, of course, is how to envision a pre-ferred situation and then get to it. In this class, we will develop an appreciation for the nature of design, and we will develop specific skills for studying and designing interactive systems. You will find the con-cepts and methods covered in this class to be widely applicable – you will be able to use them when de-signing organizations of people, when designing information structures, and when designing a business plan. But, in this class we will focus on the design of interactive systems, on human-centeredness, and on usability. The major question is: how do we design interactive systems that are useful, usable, and enjoyable?

Student learning goals

Develop an appreciation for the theory and sensibilities of design

Develop skills in the use and application of a variety of design methods, specifically applicable to user-centered design

Improve individual and collaborative skills in design-based problem solving

Given a problem setting, be able to critically discuss the appropriateness of potential design methodologies such as contextual design, scenario-based design, participatory, etc.

Be able to describe the issues and challenges to achieving a human-centered design process

Have an understanding of a range of design methods and be able to apply them to different design problems

General method of instruction

Mix of interactive lectures, discussion, in-class activities, and online discussions, as well as a major group project that will apply what you're learning in class to a real-world project.

Recommended preparation

This is an introductory course, so no specific preparation is needed. Students with all backgrounds, from computing to design to psychology to art, have been very successful in this class.

Class assignments and grading

Class Participation 10% Reading Reflections 30% Individual Assignments 15% Group Design Project 45%

Each deliverable is designed to test your achievement against one or more of the learning objectives. Different assignments emphasize different learning objectives, and please note that some grading will be subjective in nature.

Each assignment description will include criteria for grading. It is the instructor’s policy that if you just meet the assignment expectations, you will receive a score of 3.5. Grades above 3.5 will be given to those assignments that go above and beyond the assignment descriptions and show a sophisticated level of mastery of the subject matter.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Course website for most recent course
Last Update by Julie A Kientz
Date: 05/24/2012