Understanding Users

CS 377U · Spring 2019

NOTE: This is the 2019 class. The 2020 class is on Canvas.

This project-based class focuses on understanding the use of technology in the world. Students will learn generative and evaluative research methods to explore how systems are appropriated into everyday life in a quarter-long project where they design, implement, and evaluate a novel mobile application. Quantitative (e.g. A/B testing, instrumentation, analytics, surveys) and qualitative (e.g. diary studies, contextual inquiry, ethnography) methods and their combination will be covered along with practical experience applying these methods in their project.

  • Weekly schedule
  • Lectures M 4:30-5:50pm, Lathrop 282
    Studio     W 4:30-5:50pm, Lathrop 282


Week Monday Wednesday Assignments
April 1

Course Introduction

Why we should study the use of systems

Key skills covered in this course

HCI Paradigms

The move to studying mobile/contextual use

Computing as an inseparable part everyday life

Example: Generative research :: concept :: field study :: product

Active domains of mobile/ubicomp research

Student Introductions

April 3

Settling on a domain

Start Literature Search & Competitive Review

Due Wednesday, 4/10, 4pm PST

Optional Readings for this week:

Readings in your domain of interest

P1: Literature Search & Competitive Review

April 8

Understanding Domain Specific User Needs


Surveys/Mechanical Turk Studies

Contextual Inquiry

Experience Sampling

Diary Studies

Secondary Research

Domain Mapping

Examples of Visual Presentations User Data

April 10

Present Literature Search & Competitive Review

Planning a Study

Due Wednesday, 4/17, 4pm PDT

P2: Generative Research Study

April 15

Understanding Qualitative Data

Affinity analysis

Open coding

From analysis to design inspiration

Design goals and principles (Android) - fun, utility, etc.

April 17

Conduct data analysis in class - post-it macro

Turn in data and profiles from the Generative Research Study

Due Wednesday 4/24, 4pm PDT

P3: Elevator Pitches

Settle on app idea

Articulate core use case

April 22

Understanding Usability

Mobile design

Work session:

Paper/pixate prototypes

In-lab usability studies

Field/contextual usability


April 24

Present P3: Elevator Pitches

Paper prototype usability session

Writing usability reports

Due Wednesday, 5/1, 4pm PDT

P4: Usability Study Summary

P5: Minimal Viable Product

April 27
Optional Hack Day

3-7pm in Gates 504 Lounge
Food sponsored by Yahoo

April 29

Understanding Quantitative Use

App instrumentation

A/B testing

Frameworks for instrumentation (e.g. Flurry)

Visualization of results

May 1

In-class demonstration session for P5: Minimal Viable Product

In-class usability study with MVP

Get app to fieldable state with multiple users

May 6

Understanding Use in Daily Life

Field studies

Diary studies

Distributing your app

Research ethics

May 8

Implementation check-in and demo

In-class usability studies with fully functional app

Due Wednesday, 5/15

Implement instrumentation

Get app to a fully wokring state, ready to give to > 10 people

May 13

Understanding Growth



Growth Hacking

May 15

Discuss field study plans

Plan data analysis methods

Start P6: Field Study

May 20

Sharing your Understanding

CHI paper structure

Academic Talks

Startup Pitches

Career Paths in HCI

Final paper/presentation format

Slides from last year's lecture on Understanding Mobile/Ubiquitous Computing

May 22

Field Study Check-in

Quantitative Data Analysis in Class - templates

Due 5/29, 4m PDT

Previous Assignment Resubmissions

Finish P6: Field Study

May 27
Memorial Day - no class
May 29

Present and get feedback on main quantitative findings

Get feedback on final paper and presentation

Due Monday, 6/3 (Paper due 6/5)

Finish data analysis

P7: Final Paper/Presentation

June 3

Final Presentations

6-8pm, d.School open space