CSE 271 Homepage
User Interface Design: Social and Technical Issues
Winter 1998


New technologies provide the means to build superb new systems, as well as phenomenally ugly and awkward systems that still fully meet their performance and functional requirements. This course will explore several approaches towards a scientific understanding of basic issues of usability, representation and coordination that arise in interface design and related areas, such as how to best organize complex information in multimedia. There will be some focus on distributed cooperative work and semiotics. See the course outline for more detail.

We distinguish the following five levels for interface design issues:

  1. technology;
  2. ergonomics;
  3. individual psychology;
  4. sociology and group psychology; and
  5. organizational issues.

This course will focus on the last three issues, especially the fourth, and in this regard will consider the following techniques:

One case study is a system being built at UCSD CSE to support distributed cooperative software engineering over the www. Prototypes of parts of this system can be seen at http://www.cs.ucsd.edu/groups/tatami. Some issues here include: how to present proofs as webpages; how to make proofs easier to follow, e.g., by linking formal material to background material; how to motivate difficult proof steps; proof editors vs. proof browsers; direct manipulation vs. command line.

Wednesday, 11:15am-2:05pm, Room APM 3218.
Section ID 304560, Section A00

Required Books

The course will draw heavily on Shneiderman, and we will read all of Latour; other required readings will made available on the web or handed out in class.

These are available through the General Store Cooperative.

Recommended Books

All books should be on reserve at the Science and Engineering Library. The first is of interest for greater depth on stories, and the second is an amusing overview of some issues in design. The third is temporarily out of print. The UCSD bookstore has a few copies of the fourth. We will not be using these two books very much, though some of you may want them for your projects. In addition, the following is relevant:
Additional Information

Grades will be based on the first 4 items below, especially the first; obviously your class participation and homework should reflect your familiarity with the readings; items in "Miscellaneous" are for your interest and/or amusement.

  1. Reading assignments
  2. Homework assignments
  3. Projects
  4. Class discussion
  5. Miscellaneous

Warning: This is neither a technical course in HTML, JavaScript, etc, nor a touchy-feely course in web aesthetics; rather it explores various principled approaches to user interface design. You are expected to already know (or be able to quickly pick up) HTML, and to be able to read elementary philosophy and cognitive science.
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27 February 1998