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Monash University

FIT5152 User interface design and usability - Summer semester, 2013

This unit provides detailed understanding of user interface design principles and practices and usability for computer-based systems. The principles, guidelines and standards for incorporating human factors in computer interface design are explored. The unit examines issues in interface design and usability from various perspectives and how to manage this during systems development. It explores contemporary issues including: background and underpinning theories, guidelines and standards, design processes and implementation in practice, user interface evaluation methods, interface styles and componential design. The application of HCI design in other environments such as virtual reality and mobile devices will be covered.

Contact Hours

2 hrs lectures/wk, 1.5 hr laboratory/wk


Summer semester is a very intensive period of study: the same amount of material and assessment covered in a normal semester of 12 weeks plus a non-teaching week, and examined following a swot vac period, is covered and examined in around 6  weeks. Tutorial classes and lectures commence on 3rd January 2013.

The unit is an on-campus unit and as such is structured, taught and assessed on the assumption that ALL students who choose to enrol can, and will, attend ALL classes. Assessment tasks for the unit require attendance at classes as part of the assessment criteria.

This is a 6 point unit which, according to University guidelines, requires you to spend 12 hours of work per lecture/tutorial on it (a total of at least 144 hours per semester).

The anticipated workload is:

  • 2 x 2 hours per week lecture (commencing January 3, 2013), and
  • 2 x 1.5 hours per week tutorial/laboratory (commencing January 3, 2013)

 Plus approximately:

  • 5.5 hours per lecture/tutorial on preparation, online contributions and assignments, and 
  • 3 hours per lecture/tutorial minimum on additional reading.

Unit Relationships


FIT4063, IMS5302, CSE5930

Chief Examiner

Campus Lecturer


Michael Smith

Consultation hours: To be advised

Academic Overview


At the completion of this unit students should be able to:
  • understand from a management as well as technology perspective how the theories, guidelines and standards can be incorporated into the design of user interfaces;
  • understand and apply the principles of interface design relating to HCI, this includes recognising good and bad examples;
  • apply the standards, principles and theories in practice.
  • develop and conduct usability evaluations and be able to interpret the results, identify changes that are needed to a user interface
  • understand the different design considerations for designing for the Web and other devices
  • understand the different user centred development methodologies that look at design from a user perspective. In particular have knowledge of the basic principles of good interface design and HCI principles;
  • appreciate the difficulties users face when working with systems and be able to comprehend the concepts and principles underlying effective interface design and recognise good design from poor design and what the difference is from a user perspective;
  • develop attitudes which enable them to interact effectively with users in order to apply this knowledge to the design of interfaces for a range of technologies;
  • analyse the component parts of an interface so to be able to identify what is good design;
  • synthesise the knowledge, guidelines and theory to understand how each contributes to practice;
  • effectively conduct an evaluation of an information system especially in terms of usability of information systems;
  • understand the development of systems from a user perspective;
  • appreciate the difficulties users face when working with systems;
  • apply the principles, standards and theories relating to interface design and HCI to information systems development;
  • gather user requirements effectively;
  • design an effective user interface;
  • conduct a usability test and interpret the outcome;
  • recognise poor design and solutions.

Graduate Attributes

Monash prepares its graduates to be:
  1. responsible and effective global citizens who:
    1. engage in an internationalised world
    2. exhibit cross-cultural competence
    3. demonstrate ethical values
  2. critical and creative scholars who:
    1. produce innovative solutions to problems
    2. apply research skills to a range of challenges
    3. communicate perceptively and effectively

Assessment Summary

Examination (3 hours): 50%; In-semester assessment: 50%

Assessment Task Value Due Date
Assignment 1 10% Thursday 17th January 2013
Assignment 2 25% (20% written component, 5% presentation) Written component - Thursday 7th February 2013. Presentations - Tuesday 12th February 2013.
Active participation in tutorials and contributions to the discussion forum 15% Ongoing throughout semester
Examination 1 50% To be advised

Teaching Approach

  • Lecture and tutorials or problem classes
    This teaching and learning approach provides facilitated learning, practical exploration and peer learning.
  • Other
    Moodle discussion and readings: Students are encouraged to take responsibility for organising and directing their learning.


Our feedback to You

Types of feedback you can expect to receive in this unit are:
  • Informal feedback on progress in labs/tutes
  • Graded assignments with comments

Your feedback to Us

Monash is committed to excellence in education and regularly seeks feedback from students, employers and staff. One of the key formal ways students have to provide feedback is through SETU, Student Evaluation of Teacher and Unit. The University's student evaluation policy requires that every unit is evaluated each year. Students are strongly encouraged to complete the surveys. The feedback is anonymous and provides the Faculty with evidence of aspects that students are satisfied and areas for improvement.

For more information on Monash's educational strategy, and on student evaluations, see:

Previous Student Evaluations of this unit

This unit is continuously reviewed, lecture and tutorial, material and assignments change as does the exam each semester.

As a result of previous student comments the percentage allocated to tutorial particiapation and Moodle forums has been reduced with a stronger emphasis on the last assignment.

If you wish to view how previous students rated this unit, please go to

Required Resources

Please check with your lecturer before purchasing any Required Resources. Limited copies of prescribed texts are available for you to borrow in the library, and prescribed software is available in student labs.

A reading list and other resources, for each tutorial, will be available as required on Moodle. All reading and other material will be provided online.

Prescribed text(s)

Limited copies of prescribed texts are available for you to borrow in the library.

Shneiderman, B and Plaisant, C. (2010). Designing the User Interface. (5th) Pearson.

Unit Schedule

Week Activities Assessment
0   No formal assessment or activities are undertaken in week 0
1 Day 1: Introduction and overview Tutorials commence - Tuesday 3rd January 2013. Assessment task 3: Active participation in tutorials and contributions to the discussion forum. This assessment is ongoing throughout semester.
2 Day 2: Theories, principles standards and guidelines  
3 Day 3: Interface design background  
4 Day 4: Menus, forms and icons  
5 Day 5: User Interaction Assessment task 1: Thursday 17th January 2013 - Assignment 1 conducted and submitted in class; Groups for Assignment 2 finalised in tutorials
6 Day 6: Designing user information  
7 Day 7: Evaluation and usability testing  
8 Day 8: The web and other interfaces (what is different?)  
9 Day 9: Data gathering, task analysis and prototyping  
10 Day 10: Accessibility  
11 Day 11: Development through a User Centred Design approach Assessment task 2: Thursday 7th February 2013 - Assignment 2 Written component of due
12 Day 12: Summary Assessment task 2: Tuesday 12th February 2013 - Assignment 2 presentations in class
  SWOT VAC No formal assessment is undertaken SWOT VAC
  Examination period LINK to Assessment Policy: http://policy.monash.edu.au/policy-bank/

*Unit Schedule details will be maintained and communicated to you via your learning system.

Assessment Requirements

Assessment Policy

Faculty Policy - Unit Assessment Hurdles (http://www.infotech.monash.edu.au/resources/staff/edgov/policies/assessment-examinations/unit-assessment-hurdles.html)

Academic Integrity - Please see the Demystifying Citing and Referencing tutorial at http://lib.monash.edu/tutorials/citing/

Assessment Tasks


During the semester you will be assessed on work in, and preparation for, tutorials (7%), in particular the specifically assigned reading for each week and comments posted to the discussion forum (8%). The assessment of this component will be dependent on the quality of your answers based on the readings. A number of exercises may be set and students will be expected to complete those exercises either during the tutorial, or in preparation for the tutorial, and to actively participate in tutorial classes. Assessment will occur in ALL tutorials thoughout the semester. The quality and number of postings on the discussion forum in Moodle will be assessed. Your peers will also contribute to your final assessment for participation.

This assessment will constitute 15% of your marks. No marks are awarded for simply attending tutorials.

  • Assessment task 1
    Assignment 1
    Students will demonstrate, in class, their knowledge and understanding of form design and the relevant theories covered in the unit up to this point of the semester. Students will be required to answer questions and assess a particular interface presented for the purpose of the assessment task.

    Further details will be provided and posted on Moodle early in semester.
    Criteria for assessment:

    Quality of the answers and the justification provided for the answers.

    Due date:
    Thursday 17th January 2013
  • Assessment task 2
    Assignment 2
    Assignment 2 is a group assignment. No student will be permitted to do this assignment individually and all group members must belong to the same tutorial. The forming of groups across tutorials will not be permitted. Groups will be finalised in the tutorials on Thursday 17th January 2013.

    There are two components to the assignment, a written component and a presentation. The assignment is designed to provide you with the practical experience of designing and conducting an evaluation of an application's interface.

    The written component will be the design, implementation and evaluation of an application's prototype interface, in line with what has been studied during the semester.  The description of the application and all relevant details will be provided in the assignment specification.

    Group presentations will take place in class on the due date stated below

    Further details will be provided in semester.
    25% (20% written component, 5% presentation)
    Criteria for assessment:

    All students in the group will be given the same mark unless an adjustment is made by the lecturer based on feedback from the group.

    The written component will be assessed on the design and conduct of an evaluation of a selected website and background information, the analysis of that evaluation and written report on the outcome of the evaluation.  Students are also required to demonstrate an understanding of the concepts and background literature on evaluation techniques.

    The presentation will be assessed on the quality of the presentation and the delivery, the content selected for the presentation and its relevance.

    Due date:
    Written component - Thursday 7th February 2013. Presentations - Tuesday 12th February 2013.
    Students will be asked to provide confidential peer assessment of the work and contribution of each member of the group. This will be taken into account when the final marks are awarded.  An individual's mark in the group may be adjusted up or down in the light of their individual contribution.  Each student in the group will be required to detail their contribution to the group's assignment and this is to be submitted, individually, in the lecture theatre before the commencement of the last lecture of semester. This will also be used where necessary to adjust marks.

    The lecturer may request an interview with groups or individuals if required to clarify any points relating to the content of these submissions.
  • Assessment task 3
    Active participation in tutorials and contributions to the discussion forum
    Throughout the semester you are expected to actively participate in tutorial classes. Students will be asked questions relating to the reading material and the tutorial tasks. Throughout the semester you are expected contribute to the online forum discussions, including posting new topics that are relevant to the unit and meaningful responses to the postings of other students. See above for the breakdown of marks.
    Criteria for assessment:

    Quality of answers / responses.

    Demonstrate an understanding of the reading material provided.

    No marks are awarded for simply attending tutorials.

    Due date:
    Ongoing throughout semester


  • Examination 1
    3 hours
    Type (open/closed book):
    Closed book
    Electronic devices allowed in the exam:

Assignment submission

It is a University requirement (http://www.policy.monash.edu/policy-bank/academic/education/conduct/plagiarism-procedures.html) for students to submit an assignment coversheet for each assessment item. Faculty Assignment coversheets can be found at http://www.infotech.monash.edu.au/resources/student/forms/. Please check with your Lecturer on the submission method for your assignment coversheet (e.g. attach a file to the online assignment submission, hand-in a hard copy, or use an online quiz).

Online submission

If Electronic Submission has been approved for your unit, please submit your work via the learning system for this unit, which you can access via links in the my.monash portal.

Extensions and penalties

Returning assignments

Referencing requirements

Students should be aware of and adhere to the guidelines for referencing assignment work. Harvard style is the required format for referencing. This will be discussed in class early in the semester. Please also refer to the guidelines provided by the library.

Other Information


Student services

The University provides many different kinds of support services for you. Contact your tutor if you need advice and see the range of services available at www.monash.edu.au/students. For Sunway see http://www.monash.edu.my/Student-services, and for South Africa see http://www.monash.ac.za/current/

The Monash University Library provides a range of services and resources that enable you to save time and be more effective in your learning and research. Go to http://www.lib.monash.edu.au or the library tab in my.monash portal for more information. At Sunway, visit the Library and Learning Commons at http://www.lib.monash.edu.my/. At South Africa visit http://www.lib.monash.ac.za/.

Academic support services may be available for students who have a disability or medical condition. Registration with the Disability Liaison Unit is required. Further information is available as follows:

  • Website: http://monash.edu/equity-diversity/disability/index.html;
  • Email: dlu@monash.edu
  • Drop In: Equity and Diversity Centre, Level 1 Gallery Building (Building 55), Monash University, Clayton Campus, or Student Community Services Department, Level 2, Building 2, Monash University, Sunway Campus
  • Telephone: 03 9905 5704, or contact the Student Advisor, Student Commuity Services at 03 55146018 at Sunway
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