Fall 2020 - IAT 334 D100

Interface Design (3)

Class Number: 7826

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 10:30 AM – 12:20 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    Completion of 48 units, including IAT 235.



Provides an introduction to the art and design of human-computer interfaces, design methods, prototyping and evaluation of user interfaces. Examines issues of interactivity and its relation to human contexts and technological systems. The role of aesthetic, symbolic, affective and cultural factors will be assessed in concert with scientific and technological issues. The class is primarily focused on visual interfaces on computer monitors and hand-held devices, but culminates with considerations of increasingly physical interactions in ubiquitous environments.


Interaction with the information system and other humans via computers is directly shaped by the user interface. Thus, the successful user experience with an information system depends on this crucial component. This course provides students with an introduction to the design of graphical user interfaces for computing devices, covers design methods, prototyping and evaluation of user interfaces. Issues of interactivity and its relation to human contexts and technological systems will be examined. The role of aesthetic, symbolic, affective and cultural factors will be assessed in concert with scientific and technological issues as well as qualitive design evaluation methodologies. The class is primarily focused on visual interfaces on computer monitors and hand held devices. The course starts with hands-on assignments on fundamental interface-design principles.  It culminates with a final project that is implemented to the level of a fully working prototype.


Course Objectives:

In this course students will:

- become familiar with theories and motivations of visual interaction design

- become highly familiar with the software architecture of graphical user interfaces (GUI)

- understand the role of graphic design in GUI-architecture, including hierarchy, organization of text and image, layout, color, fonts and bitmaps

- understand and address the diversity of users with respect to physical, cognitive and perceptual abilities, differing personalities, identity and cultural differences

- identify, understand and design the flow of tasks required of an application

- understand and apply a design process through phases of iteration and variation

- apply prototyping methods for new applications

- learn and apply skills to design, layout and implement a graphical user interface

- perform usability evaluation and redesign

Learning Outcomes:

After completion of this course, students will be able to:

- list and identify rules for interface design

- analyze requirements for an interface

- have an understanding of different design methods (e.g. sketching, user-centered design methods, scenarios, storyboarding, prototyping) and select and apply these appropriately in a given context and design space

- understand the underlying concepts of qualitative evaluation and the differences between design evaluation methods

- organize and conduct a qualitative design evaluation process within an interdisciplinary team

- have an understanding of interactive prototyping tools, and be able to independently produce a working prototype that satisfies given design requirements

- critique and qualitatively evaluate interface design projects

- justify changes based on the outcomes of evaluations and integrate them into the prototype


  • Individual Projects & Assignments 30%
  • Quizzes 10%
  • Group Projects 60%


Grading Scale
This course uses the following grading scale, which is directly derived from the grade point system in force for all SFU courses:
A+  - 95%
A   - 90%
A-  - 85%
B+ - 80%
B   - 76.6%
B-  - 73.3%
C+ - 70%
C  - 66.7%
C-  - 63.3 %
D  -  < 60 %
F < 50%



Students will need access to a personal computing device as well as some form of Vector graphic program such as Illustrator or Sketch and a Rapid Prototyping tool such as Axure or ProtoPie


Readings will be available digitally through the course platform.


"Designing Interfaces:  Patterns for Effective Interaction Design" (2011) by Jenifer Tidwell; 2nd Edition; O'Reilly Media
ISBN: 9781449379704

"About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design" (2014) by Alan Cooper, Robert Reiman, et.al.; 4th Edition; John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated
ISBN: 9781118766408

Registrar Notes:


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Teaching at SFU in fall 2020 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).