Human Computer Interaction course – learnings

This document is a compilation of my learnings during my Human Computer Interaction (HCI) course on coursera. The
instructor for this course was Scott Klemmer, Associate Professor, Computer Science, University of California, San Diego.
I took up this course during June – Aug 2014 and intend to share my key takeaways through this write up.

The following topics were covered in the course:
1. Needfinding
2. Rapid Prototyping
3. Heuristic Evaluation
4. Direct Manipulation and Representations
5. Visual Design and Information Design

The following are the lessons that I found to be most useful in my field of work.
1. Heuristic Evaluation – Part 1
Goal: Find usability problems in a design
Method: Small set (3-5) of evaluators examine UI and independently check for compliance with usability principles
(“heuristics”). These findings are then aggregated.
Solution: Use violations to redesign/fix problems

Jakob Nielsen’s 10 general principles for interaction design. They are called “heuristics” because they are broad rules of
thumb and not specific usability guidelines.

Nielson’s 10 Heuristics:
1. Visibility of System Status
2. Match between System and World
3. User Control and Freedom
4. Consistency and Standards
5. Error Prevention
6. Recognition rather than Recall
7. Flexibility and Efficiency of Use
8. Aesthetic and Minimalistic Design
9. Help Users Recognise, Diagnose and Recover from Errors
10. Help and Documentation

More details can be found here:

2. Heuristic evaluation – Part 2:
Goal: Prioritise fixes
Method: Use the severity rating scale as a reference to prioritise fixes
Solution: Severity ratings can be used to allocate the most resources to fix the most serious problems and can also
provide a rough estimate of the need for additional usability efforts. If the severity ratings indicate that several disastrous
usability problems remain in an interface, it will probably be unadvisable to release it. But one might decide to go ahead
with the release of a system with several usability problems if they are all judged as being cosmetic in nature.

Severity Ratings:
0 don’t agree that this is a usability problem
1 cosmetic problem
2 minor usability problem
3 major usability problem; important to fix
4 usability catastrophe; imperative to fix

After completion of the lessons, a webinar was organised with Andy Pratt, Executive Creative Director at Favourite Mediums.
He answered all queries related to usability and related topics after his presentation. I was delighted to know that his team
follows agile religiously when I asked him a question on how they freeze on design decisions as a team.
This is a screen shot taken during the webinar at midnight IST.


In view of ensuring brevity of this compilation, I have covered only a small part of the course learnings. Feel free to contact me

for more details and check out this link for informative papers related to this subject:

Food for thought:
Following this is a screenshot of the design that fascinated me the most during the duration of this course. It shows us a better
way to design a measuring cup for ease of use. Can you design it better than this? 😉



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