WINTER 2004 -- Information and Computer Science -- UC Irvine -- David G. Kay -- ICS 104


This assignment is due by noon on Monday, January 26.

HCI Notebook: As we discussed the first day of class, we expect every student this quarter to carry at (nearly) all times small notebook (as simple as two quarter-folded sheets of paper or as complex as a hand-held PDA). Whenever you observe a particularly bad example of interaction design (or a particularly good one), jot down the details in your notebook. Often these instances are fleeting and subtle; you may think you'll remember and write it down later, but chances are you won't, so it's best to carry the notebook and record the details when they occur.

(a) Pick two different instances of bad design from your HCI notebook. These may involve computer systems or any human-created object. For this part of the assignment, you may pick relatively small, simple instances (like the elevator buttons in the new CS building elevators, but don't pick ones we discussed in class). For each,

Your description of each instance should be shorter than one single-spaced page of text (though with illustrations it may actually span more than one page).

(b) Pick a web site somewhere at that you use frequently. Analyze it as described above, but in somewhat more detail involving more than one feature or function. As an upper limit, don't spend more than an hour exploring the site and making notes, and don't write more than two single-spaced pages of analysis (which again may span more pages than that as you include illustrations).

Your analysis should address who the intended users of the site are, what the users want to achieve by using the site, how the site failed to serve these users and their goals (including, if applicable, characteristics of the users and their backgrounds that the site designers didn't understand or accommodate well), and what makes your suggested improvements better.

Your analysis should focus on usability issues rather than pure functionality; while the line is sometimes hard to draw (adding a search feature, for example, is increased functionality that also affects the usability of a site), don't try to solve the problems by making the system into something that it wasn't intended to be.

Written by David G. Kay, Winter 2004, based on assignments by Alfred Kobsa and Nayla Nassif.

David G. Kay, 406B Computer Science
University of California, Irvine
Irvine, CA 92697-3425 -- (949) 824-5072 -- Fax (949) 824-4056 -- Email

Friday, January 16, 2004 -- 12:22 PM