Welcome to the

University of Saskatchewan - Department of Computer Science

CMPT 479/817 Usability Engineering;

Information website for Fall 2020

NOTE: The official course will be delivered online via: moodle.cs.usask.ca

What this course is about

This course presents a requirements engineering (RE) approach to usability engineering(UE). UE is a structured approach to developing usable user interface designs. 

UE  integrates human-computer interaction (HCI) requirements and design approaches within development projects managed by software engineering (SE) methodologies. 

Requirements Engineering (a sub discipline of SE) focuses on applying development processes and documenting information items that support these development processes in order to engineer large scale software projects and to provide information that readily supports further evolutionary development of these projects. While RE is most needed for large scale projects, its processes and information items can also be scaled down to smaller developments. This approach is being taken because it can be applied to all types and sizes of developments.

This class focuses on the needs of users and their tasks, which are at the heart of all systems development. It demonstrates how RE can be applied to engineering usable systems. While it does not deal with technical issues (such as program or database design and construction) it provides clear linkages to those SE activities, which also fit into the same overall life cycle.

In addition to providing students with an advanced understanding of UE and RE, this class introduces them to a variety of significant international standards in the fields of Software Engineering and of Ergonomics.

Course Delivery for Fall 2020

This course will be delivered online via: moodle.cs.usask.ca

This course will be delivered asynchronously. That means that you are not required to be online at a particular time of day. Participation can be done at the time of day of your choice, as long as you meet the various times and dates when your participation is due.
The one exception is the class project presentations that will be held during the last full week of the course. Project Presentations will be done live using teleconferencing software.

This course focuses its requirements on weekday participation. You will be expected to regularly work on this course throughout the week. The course had been scheduled as a MWF class. Various due dates will occur weekly on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Other work will be scheduled for Tuesdays and Thursdays. While no work is scheduled for Saturday or Sunday, those days can be utilized for major work if the student wishes.

This course is highly interactive. While it is based on a comprehensive text (provided by the instructor) , it is designed to be customized to the interests of the students who are enrolled  this term. This will be facilitated by focusing on selected topics in the content that the students identify and discuss.

This course covers all of the content and expectations that exist in regular face-to-face courses. However, this content and these expectations are being delivered in a style more suited to the online format that is being utilized this term.

Course Syllabus for CMPT 479 / 817 in Fall Term 2020

Catalog Description

This course presents a requirements engineering (RE) approach to usability engineering (UE) by providing in depth coverage of the Usability Centered Development of information systems. UE is a structured approach to developing usable user interface designs. UE helps integrate human-computer interaction (HCI) requirements and design approaches within development projects managed by software engineering (SE) methodologies. 


Class Time & Location: 

This course is being offered as an online class this term via: moodle.cs.usask.ca

Instructor: Prof. Jim A. Carter

While many student questions can be handled via e-mail, Dr. Carter will set up teleconferencing connections at mutually agreeable times for student questions requiring more than can be readily accomplished by e-mail.

Dr. Carter expects to have at least one teleconference per student to discuss ideas for their term project. This discussion is important in ensuring that they have a project that can be successfully completed within the course. Further project related teleconferences may also be conducted.

Course Objectives

A student successfully completing this course shall be able:
  1. To identify opportunities for improving the usability and accessibility of existing and proposed systems
  2. To apply the components of the definitions of usability and accessibility to evaluating and developing interactive systems
  3. To apply usability methods in evaluating and developing interactive systems
  4. To apply principles and other forms of ergonomic and user interface guidance to evaluating and developing interactive systems
  5. To identify and analyze the various components of the overall context of use of an interactive system
  6. To develop usability and accessibility specifications that can be used in evaluating and developing interactive systems
  7. To identify techniques and technologies that can satisfy usability and accessibility specifications

Student Evaluation:

CMPT 479
CMPT 817
20% Class Postings
20% Assignments    
30% Term Project
         5% Proposal     
         5% Context of Use
         5% Analysis
         5% Design
         5% Presentation
          5% Completed Project
30% Final Exam
20% Class Postings
20% Assignments
60% Term Project
         10% Proposal
         10% Context of Use
         10% Analysis
         10% Design
         10% Presentation
         10% Completed Project
no final exam

Participation Expectations: Class Postings

This class requires regular participation via class postings on the topics for Weeks 2 - 11, that are due before each week on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays before 11pm on those days.

On Mondays, students will post at least one Challenge related to each of the two chapters assigned for the week.
On Wednesdays, students will post at least one Elaboration related to each of the two chapters assigned for the week.
By Friday, students will post various discussions related to the challenge and elaboration postings made by other students.

Assignments and Project

The class assignments and project have been broken into small components to be done most weeks. (Two parts of the class project are given two weeks each, in recognition of the amount of work expected for them.) This will provide students with more timely feedback on their work, and will keep students from getting behind.

Assignments and project reports are due before noon on the first day of the week.

Final Exam Scheduling

The final exam will be a take home exam that covers the complete course.
Students will be given at least 24 hours, starting from the end of classes to complete the exam.


All students must be properly registered in order to be allowed to use the course materials on Moodle and to receive credit for this course.


The text is a manuscript of the book: Usability Centered Development by Dr. Jim Carter. This has been regularly updated to contain the latest international consensus on the various topics covered by this class. Free access to all chapters of the text will be provided to students registered in the class via moodle.cs.usask.ca.

NOTE: There is a considerable amount of reading to do as a preparation for each week's topics. All class activities will be based on this reading. The text chapters will be made available by Friday prior to the week where they will be used (starting on Monday). Students can either read the text ahead of Monday or should expect to take sufficient time on Monday to read the text.

The text and other course materials are copyright by Dr. Jim Carter and freely provided for the use of registered students in the class and shall not be shared or published outside the class. 

Topic Schedule

Week TopicsAssignment / Project due
0. Sept 3

0. Course Introduction
1. Introduction to Human-Centered Design and Usability-Centered Development
1. Sept 7
2. Usability, Accessibility and related concepts
2. Sept 14

3. Usability Methods
4. Principles and Other Sources of Guidance
Assignment 1
- due noon Sept 14
3. Sept 21

5. Possibilities and Scenarios
6. Identifying Tasks
Assignment 2
- due noon Sept 21
4. Sept 28

7. Identifying Users
8. Identifying Content

Assignment 3
- due noon Sept 28
Discuss Project Ideas
5. Oct 5

9. Identifying Environments
10. Needs Assessment
Assignment 4
- due noon Oct 5
6. Oct 13

11. Basic Task Characteristics
12. Additional Task Characteristics
Project Proposal
- due noon Oct 13
7. Oct 19

13. User Interaction Capabilities
14. User Cognitive and Affective Capabilities
Project Context of Use Report
- due noon Oct 19      
8. Oct 26

15. Group Characteristics
16. Content Issues
9. Nov 2

17. Specifying Needs, Requirements, and Recommendations
18. Interaction Design & 19. Guidance on Interaction Design
Project Analysis Report
- due noon Nov 2    
   Nov 9=== Mid-Term Break ===
10. Nov 16

20. Interface (& Navigation) Design
21. Guidance on Interface Design
11. Nov 23  
22. Implementation Issues
23. Usability Engineering
Project Design Report
- due noon Nov 23     
12. Nov 30
Student Project Presentations
Project Presentations
- to be scheduled
13. Dec  7Final Project dueCompleted project Report
- due noon Dec 7

Incomplete Course Work and Final Grades

"When a student has not completed the required course work, which includes any assignment or examination including the final examination, by the time of submission of the final grades, they may be granted an extension to permit completion of an assignment, or granted a deferred examination in the case of absence from a final examination. Extensions for the completion of assignments must be approved by the Department Head, or Dean in non-departmentalized Colleges, and may exceed thirty days only in unusual circumstances. The student must apply to the instructor for such an extension and furnish satisfactory reasons for the deficiency. Deferred final examinations are granted as per College policy.

In the interim, the instructor will submit a computed percentile grade for the course which factors in the incomplete course work as a zero, along with a grade comment of INF (Incomplete Failure) if a failing grade.

If an extension is granted and the required assignment is submitted within the allotted time, or if a deferred examination is granted and written in the case of absence from the final examination, the instructor will submit a revised computed final percentage grade. The grade change will replace the previous grade and any grade comment of INF (Incomplete Failure) will be removed.

For provisions governing examinations and grading, students are referred to the University Council Regulations on Examinations section of the Calendar.

(2011 University of Saskatchewan Calendar/Academic Courses Policy)

Further details of the Academic Course Policy can be found online at: http://policies.usask.ca/policies/academic-affairs/academic-courses.php

Academic Honesty

The University of Saskatchewan is committed to the highest standards of academic integrity and honesty.  Students are expected to be familiar with these standards regarding academic honesty and to uphold the policies of the University in this respect.  Students are particularly urged to familiarize themselves with the provisions of the Student Conduct & Appeals section of the University Secretary Website and avoid any behavior that could potentially result in suspicions of cheating, plagiarism, misrepresentation of facts and/or participation in an offense.  Academic dishonesty is a serious offense and can result in suspension or expulsion from the University.

All students should read and be familiar with the Regulations on Academic Student Misconduct (http://www.usask.ca/university_secretary/honesty/StudentAcademicMisconduct.pdf ) as well as the Standard of Student Conduct in Non-Academic Matters and Procedures for Resolution of Complaints and Appeals (http://www.usask.ca/university_secretary/honesty/StudentNon-AcademicMisconduct2012.pdf ) Academic honesty is also defined and described in the Department of Computer Science Statement on Academic Honesty (http://www.cs.usask.ca/undergrad/honesty.php ).

For more information on what academic integrity means for students see the Student Conduct & Appeals section of the University Secretary Website at: http://www.usask.ca/university_secretary/pdf/dishonesty_info_sheet.pdf  

Examinations with Disability Services for Students (DSS)

Students who have disabilities (learning, medical, physical, or mental health) are strongly encouraged to register with Disability Services for Students (DSS) if they have not already done so. Students who suspect they may have disabilities should contact DSS for advice and referrals. In order to access DSS programs and supports, students must follow DSS policy and procedures. For more information, check http://www.students .usask.ca/disability/ , or contact DSS at 966-7273 or dss@usask.ca .

Students registered with DSS may request alternative arrangements for mid-term and final examinations. Students must arrange such accommodations through DSS by the stated deadlines. Instructors shall provide the examinations for students who are being accommodated by the deadlines established by DSS.  

Date of last revision: June 12, 2020