CS 1300: User Interfaces and User Experience

Fall 2016

This course will cover concepts in human-computer interaction that focus on designing user interfaces. Topics include understanding when to use different interfaces, modeling and representing user interaction, principles of user experience design, eliciting requirements and feedback from users, methods for designing and prototyping interfaces, and user interface evaluation. Students interested in learning the process behind building a user interface and gaining hands-on experience designing a user interface should take this course.

Programming experience is not necessary. There will be weekly assignments, readings, labs, and UI Camp as a bootcamp for design tools.

Nearly all course information will be available on the course website. The course is expected to require 10 hours / week of work outside class for assignments, readings, labs, and other activities.

Course Time and Location

Location: Room 130, 85 Waterman St
Time: 1pm-2:20pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays
See the course calendar for important dates.

Class Schedule

Day Lecture Reading Due (on day of lecture) Assignment Assignment due
Sep 8 Introduction
Sep 10 & 11 UI Camp
Sep 13 History Portfolios Journal Sundays until Oct 30
Sep 15 GUI
Sep 20 Pointing Buxton - Input Input Sep 26
Sep 22 Natural
Sep 27 Understanding Adams and Cooper - Personas Personas Oct 5 (extended)
Sep 29 Analysis
Oct 4 Models Cooper - Undo Save A/B Testing Oct 12 (extended)
Oct 6 Onboarding
Oct 11 Affordances Norman - Design Redesign Oct 17
Oct 13 Interaction
Oct 18 Navigation Rivers - Navigation Sitemap Oct 24
Oct 20 Accessibility NoC Larry
Oct 25 Prototyping Buxton - Sketching Sketching Nov 1 (in class) & 7
Oct 27 Text
Nov 1 Visual Vignelli - Canon Mockups Nov 7
Nov 3 Layout
Nov 8 Output Hery - UI State [TA Companion] Responsive Nov 14
Nov 10 Usability
Nov 15 Evaluation Rogers - Evaluation Playtesting
[Eyetracking Guide]
[UserTesting.com Guide]
Nov 21
Nov 17 Emotion
Nov 22 HCI (optional) Kramer and followups Deception OR Development Nov 28, Nov 30
Nov 24 Thanksgiving (holiday)
Nov 29 Crits
Dec 1 Social Goffman and Eggers
Dec 6 Presentations Dec 5
Dec 8 Presentations

UX Visitor Series

Day Visitor Title Company
Sep 13 Ha Phan Product Designer GoPro
Sep 27 Courtney George Experience Designer Adobe
Oct 11 Andrew Evans Product Designer IDEO
Oct 20 Larry Goldberg Accessibility Director Yahoo
Oct 25 Alex Hadik UX Designer & Frontend Developer IBM
Nov 8 Jill Woelfer UX Researcher Google
Nov 10 Behzad Aghaei UX Designer Apple
Dec 1 Jessica Tran Design Researcher Microsoft


Jeff Huang, 407 CIT, jeffremoveme@cs.brown.edu
Office hours: Tuesdays 2:30-4:30pm

Teaching Assistants

Lily George (Head TA) lily_georgeremoveme@brown.edu
John Filmanowicz (Head TA) john_filmanowiczremoveme@brown.edu
Abraham Peterkin (TA) abraham_peterkinremoveme@brown.edu
Alicia DeVos (TA) alicia_devosremoveme@brown.edu
Catherine Hong (RISD TA) chong01removeme@risd.edu
Isaac Semaya (TA) isaac_semayaremoveme@brown.edu
Jiyun Lee (TA) jiyun_leeremoveme@brown.edu
Julia Wu (TA) julia_wuremoveme@brown.edu
Jina Yoon (TA) jina_yoonremoveme@brown.edu
Neilly Tan (TA) neille-ann_tanremoveme@brown.edu
Nathaniel Parrott (TA) nathaniel_parrottremoveme@brown.edu
Quinn Li O'Shea (TA) quinn_li_oshearemoveme@brown.edu
Shaun Wallace (TA) shaun_wallaceremoveme@brown.edu
Yuta Arai (TA) yuta_arairemoveme@brown.edu
Zachary Deocadiz (RISD TA) zdeocadiremoveme@risd.edu
Nediyana Daskalova (Graduate TA) nediyana_daskalovaremoveme@brown.edu

Email cs1300tasremoveme@cs.brown.edu to reach all the TAs (most questions should be directed here).
Email cs1300htasremoveme@cs.brown.edu to reach the Head TAs, Graduate TA, and Jeff (e.g. questions about your course grade).
Email Jeff for sensitive issues (e.g. feedback about course, disagreement with a TA).

If you have questions or disagreements about your grade for an assignment, first email the TA who graded you - if the issue isn't resolved, our policy is to escalate issues to the Grad TA.

Please do not email any individual TA or Head TA. They have been advised to ignore emails not sent to the TA list. This is to ensure we apply a consistent policy for questions, and so you can get a faster response to your emails.

TA Office Hours

Hours are on Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays. Some TAs alternate which weeks they are on, so please check the Google Calendar to see who is on this week.

Day Time Location TAs
Sunday 5-6 CIT 207 Isaac and Neilly (alternating)
Monday 5-6 CIT 207 Jina and Nate (alternating)
Thursday 5-6 CIT 207 Quinn Li


If you've got questions about assignments or course material, ask them on Piazza.


Assignments are graded by undergraduate TAs and reviewed by Head TAs, using a rubric developed with the instructor. If you feel an assignment was graded unfairly, first reach out to the TA who graded you - if you still disagree, please email the Graduate TA (nediyana_daskalovaremoveme@cs.brown.edu) and explain why you think your assignment deserved a better grade. The Graduate TA will make a determination about whether your score will be changed within a week.

Slides will be posted just before class starts but may be available on Canvas beforehand. Readings and assignments will be posted one week in advance with the due date for reading comments or assignment in parentheses (submit everything to Canvas).


TAs will lead multiple labs during the semester outside of the course lecture hours where students can gain experience with a specific interaction design tool or UI development for a specific platform. They will be in a tutorial + exercise format, and take place in List 315. Students should take 4 labs in total (UI Camp counts as 2).

UI Camp will be a bootcamp run by the TAs to have small groups work with 5 different design tools on various small design tasks. It will be an all-day workshop that happens on the weekend following the first day of class, and be considered as a Lab. UI Camp is new this year, and considered optional, but students are strongly encouraged to participate. UI Camp and the UX Visitors Series are generously supported by Adobe and Balsamiq.

Lab Signup Sheet Handout Slides
Lab 1: Balsamiq + Invision Link Link Link
Lab 2: Sketch + XD Link Link Link
Lab 3: Illustrator Link Link Link
Lab 4: Photoshop Link Link Link
Lab 5: proto.io + Quant UX Link Link Link
Lab 6: Principle + Figma Link Link Link
Lab 7: Framer Link Link Link
Lab 8: React Link Link Link

No-show policy: if you sign up for a lab and can't attend, please let us know at least 24 hours ahead of time -- otherwise, you'll lose priority for lab signups, and will have to sign up after everyone else. This might make it hard to sign up for four labs, so please try to let us know ahead of time if you need to miss a lab.

Late Policy

Reading comments are due at 11:55pm on the due date listed in the schedule. No late reading comments will be accepted, except by using a late pass (see below). For assignments 20%, of an assignment grade will be deducted for each week it is late. So an assignment turned in 9 days late will have 40% points off.

All student get 3 late passes, each of which can be used to compensate for an assignment or reading comment turned in 3 days (72 hours) late (usable once per assignment or reading comment). These will be automatically applied at the end of the course. Note that each late pass reimburses 1% of the total course grade. There are no benefits to having extra late passes when the semester ends. Any further accomodation requires a note sent to the Head TA contact email from either 1) a Dean of the College or 2) Health Services or a Doctor stating the time period of not being able to do coursework.

Collaboration Policy

The Collaboration Policy explains the policies around working with other students or using outside-class resources for your assignment. It can be viewed in Canvas and is marked as an assignment worth 0 points. Your work will not be graded until you have agreed to the collaboration policy by submitting that assignment.

Sample Topics from Last Year

The schedule emphasizes user-related topics in the first half of the course, then design topics in the second half of the course.

Week Topic
Week 1


We start with an overview of the course, and highlight challenges in designing user interfaces.
Week 2

Interfaces Basics

We'll learn how we arrived at the traditional desktop interface, and the desktop metaphors the shaped the way many people use computers today.
Week 3

Input Techniques

We will dive into the details of computer input and direct manipulation to explore performance and human motor capabilities, and find out there's more to the mouse, keyboard, and touchscreen than meets the eye.
Week 4

User-Centered Design

Users become the center focus as we look at how to design for them from beginning to end.
Week 5

Understanding Users

To find out what users desire from an interface, we must first use techniques to gather data about how they might use it, and the interpret this data.
Week 6

Usability Evaluation

We learn about both formal and informal methods of evaluating user interfaces, including usability testing and user-free evaluation methods.
Week 7

Interaction Design

We look beyond just the interface to learn about the process of interaction design that involves modeling and representing users.
Week 8

Visual Design

We learn about fundamental principles of designing graphical user interfaces.
Week 9


We will use low-fidelity and high-fidelity prototyping as ways to iteratively improve the design of the interface.
Week 10

Interfaces for People

How does social behavior affect the interactions people have with interfaces? How do interfaces appeal to the emotional nature of users? We also explore issues surrounding making interfaces more accessible.
Week 11


This week involves an in-class activity where we get practice critiquing each others' interfaces from the Prototyping assignment using the traditional design crit process.
Week 12


Students showcase assignments in class.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I register for the course?
Be one of the first 140 people to pre-register, or use an override code sent to 60 people selected from those who apply afterwards. This year, the course will not have more than 200 students, and we are expecting fewer than that.

I am a RISD student interested in taking the course. How do I enroll?
If you are sent an override code, there's a RISD form you will need Jeff to sign to register (bring it to the second day of class). Please refer to the RISD instructions. For further guidance, email the TA list with "(RISD)" in the subject to get the attention of the RISD TAs.

Can I take the course as a capstone?
Yes, you must extend an assignment or a Development Lab into something that has substantial development and design components. This can be done as a group, but the amount of work should be proportional to the group size.

When is the last day of the course?
December 12, 2016 at the latest. There is no final exam.

Will there be a textbook for the course?
No, all readings will be made available on Canvas.

Can I take this course as a non-CS concentrator?
Yes, the course has no prerequisites.

How do I apply a late pass to a late assignment or reading comment?
They are automatically accounted for. No penalties are applied until the end of the semester.