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INFO 654-902

Systems Interface Design

Preliminary Course Syllabus
Virginia Commonwealth University
Department of Information Systems
Spring 2007

Dr. Jeff Hubona

Office phone: 804 828-3177
Office: BUS 4172
Email: (preferred means of communication).


Tejay Gurvirender

Class Web Page: (1);

(2) We will also use BlackBoard, mostly for turning in assignments and for
posting grades.
Office Hours: Wednesdays 1:00 PM 3:00 PM, but I am also usually around just before class.
Class Meetings: Wednesdays, 7:00 PM 9:40PM, BUSNS 4119.
INFO 661 Information Systems for Managers; OR
INFO 640 Information Systems and Knowledge Management
Required Course Readings and Course Materials:
1. Required (and mostly on-line) readings will be posted during the semester.
Catalog Course Description
Analyzes factors important in designing the interface for e-business systems. Designs and
develops systems for the internet. Requires students to work in teams to produce prototype
interactive systems.
The perspective that we will follow with respect to the factors that are important in designing the
interface will largely relate to usability and human-computer interaction issues. We will focus on
a business-to-consumer (B2C) perspective as far as e-business is concerned. Additionally, we
will use examples from other domains (for example, news, auctions, public and private portals,
search engines, etc.) as exemplified in public web sites to illustrate important design principles.
Because the class size is small, students will develop and demonstrate individual (not team)
prototype working sites.
Also, because the class is small, we will conduct most class sessions in this fashion: The week
before, I will assign readings for the next week. When the class convenes, we will spend some
time talking about the readings in a seminar format. That is, you, the students, will discuss the

readings with me, and with each other. Thus, you must be prepared to discuss the readings for
each week before you come to class.
Course Objectives
Upon completing this course, the student should be able to:

Understand and apply key concepts and principles of human computer interaction (HCI)
and usability that are the basis for effective web site design.
Understand and apply different approaches to web site navigation and design.
Understand how to organize and display site content.
Be able to objectively evaluate and critique the overall usability of e-business web sites.
Be able to develop and publish a site that demonstrates the best practices of current
usability guidelines.

There is no curve, nor extra credit, available.
(Standard) Grading:
Quiz #1
Quiz #2
Critical Analyses (2)
Class Participation
Web Site
Design and Report
15 Min. of Fame

20.00 %
20.00 %
25.00 %
10.00 %
20.00 %
05.00 %

Quizzes will test your ability to apply class concepts and material. Candidate quiz questions will
be distributed in advance and will require prior preparation before the (closed book, closed
notes) quiz date. Class attendance is very important! The number of classes that you miss (or
are late for) will enter into your class participation grade. An excess of absences (more than one),
or excess tardiness, will affect my judgment relating to your scholastic commitment.
Grades will be assigned at the conclusion of the course based on your numeric average as
90 percent or higher is assigned an A
89.99 to 80 percent is assigned a B
79.99 to 70 percent is assigned a C
69.99 to 60 percent is assigned a D
Less than 60 percent is assigned an F

Assignments: Note: all assignments are due on the date indicated. Any late assignment will be
reduced in grade. Assignments that are submitted more than one week late will not be
accepted (and will consequently be assigned a grade of 0). All assignments are
individual assignments.
(1) Web Site Pairs Critical Analyses of Usability (25 % of final class grade);
(2) Class Participation (10 % of final class grade);
(3) Usable Web Site Design / Implementation (20 % of final class grade);
(4) 15 Minutes of Fame (5 % of final class grade)
(1) Web Site Pairs Critical Analyses of Usability: Each student will write two critical essays
that compare and contrast pairs of like-minded public e-commerce sites (for example, Circuit
City versus Best Buy), critiquing them in terms of their respective usability and suitability for
purpose. Each (pair of) critical analysis will count 12.5 % towards your final class grade (25 %
total), and each will focus on one particular topic of overall e-commerce site usability, as
assigned by the instructor (for example, (i) primary, secondary and tertiary navigation, and (ii)
overall presentation and organization of content. The critical analyses are individual assignments.
Electronic submissions are required as I maintain a cumulative library of all critical analyses
submitted. More details about conducting each assignment will be provided later, but in general,
experience has demonstrated that each of the (pairs of) critical analyses that are assigned grades
in the A range generally have the following characteristics:

Focus on pairs of e-commerce sites that have notable and explicable contrasts, i.e. one of
them is generally good in terms of the focused usability topic while the second is not so
Focus on pairs of sites that are like minded, that is, that target the same purpose, user
population, etc. (note that this is a requirement).
Are well organized, and written, in coherent essays exceeding 2,000 words (excluding
images and screen shots).
Contain embedded annotated screen shots that illustrate the arguments in the analysis.

(2) Class Participation: Students are expected to actively contribute to weekly class
discussions. Each week, one student will take the lead in discussing the important points from
that weeks readings. You must be prepared and have notes to assist your focused discussion. The
quantity and quality of your class discussion contributions will mostly determine your overall
class participation grade (10 % of final class grade). In addition, not missing class, and being on
time will also enter into this grade component.
(3) Usable Web Site Design/Implementation: Students will develop a working e-commerce
web site that incorporates the principles of usability as taught in the course. The IS department
will provide the software and hosting space for your web site projects. Students will develop a
written report on their site that substantiates that the site meets acceptable standards of usability.
Grades for this assignment will be assigned based on: (1) the merits of the site itself (most of the
grade for this project); and on (2) the quality of the accompanying report substantiating why the
site meets high standards of usability (also important to your project grade). For their 15
minutes of fame assignment (see below), students will demo their site to the class and explain
how it meets usability objectives. More details about this assignment will be provided later, but

in general, experience has demonstrated that those projects that are assigned grades in the A
range generally have the following characteristics:

Are substantive, well-developed sites that incorporate principles of usability as taught in

the class.
The sites contain perhaps thirty or more individual nodes (however, there is some
flexibility here depending on what your site does).
Are accompanied by a well-written essay of 2,500 words or more (excluding images and
accompanying screen shots) that cogently and persuasively argue why the site is usable.
Note that the accompanying written report is mandatory.
Comprehensively cover the various important topics and aspects of web site usability as
taught and practiced in the class.
Contain embedded annotated screen shots (in the written report) that illustrate the
arguments for usability.

(4) 15 Minutes of Fame Each student will make a 30 minute presentation to the class
presenting your developed web site and arguments for usability (late in the semester). More
details about this assignment will be provided later, but in general, experience has demonstrated
that those presentations that are assigned grades in the A range generally have the following

Are substantive, enthusiastic, energetic and informative presentations of well-developed

web sites that incorporate recognized principles of usability.
The presenter is obviously enthusiastic about the site they have developed.
The presentations are well received by fellow students.
The presentations engage the class, both in evident interest, as well as by eliciting class
interaction and discussion.

Course Schedule Readings

The schedule on the following page outlines the required topics for each weekly class. I will post
weekly readings and slides for each scheduled class at least one week in advance. Students
should visit each week to view (and
download) current class readings. Students are responsible for all readings assigned, regardless
of whether they are fully discussed in class. I reserve the right to make changes to the class
schedule as the semester progresses. In addition, I will also present material for discussion in
class that is not covered in the required readings. Students will be responsible for all material
presented/discussed in class.

Preliminary Course Schedule:

Jan 17
Jan 24
Jan 31
Feb 7
Feb 14
Feb 21
Feb 28
Mar 7
Mar 14
Mar 21
Mar 28
Apr 4
Apr 11
Apr 18
Apr 25
May 2
May 9

Syllabus and Class Introduction; Home Page Design;

More Home Page Design;
Page and Site Design;
Web Development Basics: Web Publishing Tools;
Web Development Basics: Web Publishing Tools;
Web Development Basics: Web Publishing Tools;
More Navigation; Presenting Content;
No Class Spring Break
Quiz #1
Writing for the Web; Critical Analysis of Navigation is Due
Graphics and the Web;
Splash and Flash; Critical Analysis of Content/Writing for the Web is Due
Search; Shopping on the Internet;
Quiz #2; Final Web Projects Due.