ICS 4 • David G. Kay • UC Irvine

First Homework

This assignment is due by 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 16.

Each student will turn in his or her own submission for this assignment. However, you may work together with one other student so long as each of you turns in his or her individual work.

If you haven't read the homework advice on the class assignment page, now's the time to do it.

Web HCI notebook

As we discussed the first day of class, we expect every student this quarter to carry at (nearly) all times a small notebook (as simple as two quarter-folded sheets of paper or as complex as a smartphone with a camera). Whenever you observe a particularly bad example of human-computer interaction on the web (or a particularly good one), jot down the URL and other 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. That's why we expect you to carry the notebook and record the details when they occur.

Part (a)

Complete the ICS 4 Questionnaire and do the other items on the syllabus under "What to do to get started…"

Part (b)

Pick two different instances of bad web design from your web design notebook. For this part of the assignment, you may pick relatively small, simple instances (like the recommendations page at Amazon.com or the "How do you know this person" window on Facebook, not that either of these is necessarily a bad design), 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).

Part (c)

Pick a web site somewhere at uci.edu 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.


Combine all your answers into one electronic document and submit it via Checkmate.