CS 485/584 - Human Computer Interaction

Synchronous Lectures M/W 8:30a - 9:45a EST
(Spring 2023)

Every year that you have attended school, computers have been increasingly woven into the fabric of your everyday life. We don’t interact with computers simply when we sit in front of their screens anymore. They are in front of our faces when we eat dinner, telling us where to go when we drive our cars, and the medium through which we express many of our relationships.

This means that we can’t dismiss the quality of our interactions with these devices as something trivial or unimportant. Computers are simply too pervasive in our lives. The quality of our interactions with computers has a direct impact on our overall quality of life.

Practically, if you write an application that people can’t use, they won’t use it. Many of the dominant companies that we are familiar with received a jump start by emphasizing core usability principles in the beginning stages of development.

Given these stakes, we need to deeply consider What is the best way for us to interact with computers? How can we quantify or capture this notion of ‘good design’? How can we build applications of our own that are designed well? By the end of this course, you should be able to…

  1. Apply human-centered design processes to find problems and design solutions that meet real human needs. Develop a process for exploring problem spaces and design spaces. This will allow you to use research-validated approaches to creating apps that people find a pleasure to use.
  2. Anchor design decisions in existing design research and expertise. We will utilize existing and emerging research surrounding interaction techniques to improve the way that people engage with the world around them. This will allow you to develop a design intuition - using design ideas and principles to build user-centered applications.
  3. Communicate the provenance of your design in a clear and compelling manner. We will document our design processes to showcase and validate the decisions that we made. These documents are synonymous with reflections required by many companies who are hiring in the design space.

Finally, you will be exposed to people who are paving the way for the next-generation of HCI. Through them, I hope that you will catch a glimpse of the future and use this information to grab ahold of trends before they emerge.

Course Logistics

When: M/W 8:30a - 9:45a EST, synchronous
Where: Math & Science Center W303
Lecture Slides & Recordings: Canvas
Design Documentation: Medium
Discussion / Questions: Slack
Office Hours: here

Your attendance is crucial, because you will be working on your group projects in class. Your teammates will depend on your presence and engagement. Regular in-class quizzes will also count as part of your grade and cannot be made up outside of class unless your absence was university-approved.


Instructor: Dr. Emily Wall (Instructor) is an Assistant Professor at Emory University CS. She directs the Cognition and Visualization (CAV) Lab where she and her students conduct research on decision making with data.

Shiyao Li (TA) is a second year CSI Ph.D. student. He joined Emory after completing his Masters in Data Science at Vanderbilt University.

Randy Truong (TA) is a senior majoring in Computer Science.

masochists teapot
Masochist's Teapot.

uncomfortable pot
Uncomfortable Pot.

uncomfortable rain boots
Uncomfortable Rain Boots.

uncomfortable rain boots
Uncomfortable Key.

uncomfortable rain boots
Engagement Mugs.

Learning Objectives


  • Students should be able to describe and execute the steps of a user-centered design process.


  • Students should develop working proficiency in rapid prototyping with a variety of technologies (e.g., paper prototyping, Figma, Vega, Google Cardboard, etc).

Research Methods

  • Students should be able to describe and execute quantitative research methods.
  • Students should be able to describe and execute qualitative research methods.
  • Students should be able to design and justify a range of evaluation plans for an artifact.


  • Students should engage in discussions and activities in-class and online.

Assignments & Responsibilities

You will be individually responsible for some homework assignments , participation and critique, reading quizzes , and your final project. In addition, there will be 4 design sprints throughout the semester, completed as group projects.

Objective Weight (Grad) Weight (Undergrad) Description
15% 15% Reading Quizzes.
12% 15% Engagement and Critique.
12% 17% Individual Homework Assignments.
12% extra credit Grad-Only Assignments.
31% 35% Group Design Activities.
18% 18% Final Project.
You can find some favorite examples from semesters past in the Emory HCI Hall of Fame.


= Optional Reading = Quiz = No Preparation = No Lecture
= start of Design Sprint = end of Design Sprint = Hack Day = Demo Day
= Homework Assignment

Week Date Topic Reading Assignments Due
1 1-11 Intro to Human-Computer Interaction Contextual Design, Holtzblatt & Beyer
Learning to See
2 1-16 MLK Day
1-18 Needfinding Empathy Fieldguide
(29 min) Invisible Women, Caroline Criado Perez
O (12 min) Ethnography: Ellen Isaacs at TEDxBroadway
O (3 min) Insight Through Needfinding
or something else about needfinding

Complete the course survey
Good/Bad Design
3 1-23 Define Ch. 1 from The Design of Everyday Things
How to Understand Problems by Ko
How to Define Problems by Ko
or something else about problem definition
Needfinding Exercise
1-25 Ideation + Prototyping How to be Creative by Ko
Ideation Overview (don’t answer survey questions)
How to Prototype by Ko
(9 min) Why you should be prototyping (Netflix)
(18 min) The Danger of a Single Story by Adichie
Getting the Right Design and the Design Right by Tohidi et al
or something else about prototying or ideation
4 1-30 Figma Demo (Speaker: Randy Truong) +
Design for Dimensions Intro
Figma Resources
(24 min) Figma UI Design Tutorial
2-01 Design for Dimensions Putting Personas to Work by Faller
A Guide to Giving and Receiving Feedback by Cheng
Tips for Working Successfully in Groups by Pausch
Health Design
5 2-06 Design for Dimensions
2-08 Data Visualization (8 min) The Art of Data Visualization
39 studies about human perception in 30 minutes OR Accompanying Talk
Five Design Sheet Methodology for Visualization
Data Storytelling: The Ultimate Collection of Resources

Design for Dimensions
6 2-13 Design for Understanding Intro
+ Evaluation Part I
Ch. 3 from The Design of Everyday Things
The Value of Information Visualization by Fekete et al
A Tour through the Visualization Zoo by Heer et al
Perception in Visualization by Healey
Dear Data
2-15 VIS Tool Demo (Speaker: Shiyao Li) + Design for Understanding Resources on Vis Tools (skim the relevant websites for tutorials)
7 2-20 Evaluation Part II Research Ethics in HCI by Bruckman
Usability Testing 101 by Moran
How to Conduct a Heuristic Evaluation by Nielsen
Ch. 2 from The Design of Everyday Things
(26 min) Learn how to Improve UX with Usability Heuristics
(24 min) Rocket Surgery Made Easy: Usability Demo by Steve Krug
2-22 Visual Design + Design Patterns (7 min) The Universal Arts of Graphic Design
How to Make Your Not-So-Great Visual Design Better
A Step-by-Step Guide to UX Patterns by Schlecht
3 ways to improve your visual design skills
UI Design Patterns
or something else about visual design
Paper Presentation (grad only)
8 2-27 Design for Understanding
3-01 Accessibility & Universal Design
+ Kristin Williams
(7 min) Adventures in Universal Design
Disability Studies as a Source of Critical Inquiry for Assistive Technology
Ch. 5 from The Design of Everyday Things

Design for Understanding
9 3-06 Spring Break
3-08 Spring Break
10 3-13 Design for Another World Intro
Augmented & Virtual Reality +
Applying human-centered design to emerging technologies (IDEO)
Virtual Reality Introduction by Steven M. LaValle
Design Practices in Virtual Reality
Dystopian Virtual Reality is Finally Here (Ian Bogost)
AR Human Interface guidelines by Apple
Campus Accessibility
3-15 VR Demo (Speaker: Noah Okada)
+ Design for Another World
+ Fred Leveau
Ch. 4 from The Design of Everyday Things
11 3-20 Theories & Models in HCI
+ Design for Another World
Ch. 4 Classical Theories by Rogers (posted on Canvas -> Readings)
Ch. 5 Modern Theories by Rogers (posted on Canvas -> Readings)
Extending Fitts' Law to Two-Dimensional Tasks by MacKenzie and Buxton
3-22 Design for Another World
12 3-27 Tangible + Wearable Interfaces
+ Shambhavi Mahajan (Paypal)
Design for Another World
Tangible Interaction by Hornecker
(13 min) How Wearable Technology Will Change Our Lives by Tudela
Ch. 7 from The Design of Everyday Things
3-29 Design for Another World
Design for Another World (blog post due Friday)
13 4-03 Re-design and Extend Intro + (@ The Hatchery, starting 9a) (8 min) Rapid Prototyping Google Glass
(4 min) How to Design a Smart Watch
(15 min) Prototyping and Model Making
Written Report (grad only)
4-05 Affective Computing
+ Meeshu Agnihotri (UC-Irvine)
Affective Computing by Höök
(20 min) The Future of Affective Computing
We Need Computers with Empathy
(16 min) Time for Technologies to Respect our Psychological Needs by Calvo
(52 min) Emotion Technology by Picard
14 4-10 Re-design and Extend
(@ The Hatchery, starting 9a)
4-12 Interface Metaphors + Input Techniques Principles of Mixed-Initiative User Interfaces by Horvitz (Intro + Principles)
Gesture Interfaces: A Step Backward in Usability
(8 min) Bill Buxton on Natural User Interfaces
Input Technologies and Techniques by Hinckley and Wigdor
15 4-17 Re-design and Extend
(@ The Hatchery, starting 9a)
4-19 Re-design and Extend
Re-design and Extend
16 4-24 Recap + Future of HCI! Charting Past, Present, and Future of Research in Ubiquitous Computing by Abowd and Mynatt
Applying human-centered design to emerging technologies (IDEO)
(11 min) Metaverse
32.1-2, 32.4-5: 3D User Interfaces
8 Prototypes that Show the Future of HCI
4-26 Reading Period
17 5-01 (Final Exam period: 8:00a - 10:30a)
No exam
Final Design Portfolio


Grading Philosophy

For many of you, most CS assignments that you’ve had up until this point had clear, crisply defined goals that mapped cleanly to point values. This is impossible in a course that relies on design. Simply checking off each of the TODOs on an assignment does not necessarily mean that you’ve created something that is easy and compelling to use.

Design Document Rubric: A majority of your assignments will use this rubric. Rather than simply ask “Did you do this?”, there will also be the question of “Did you do this well?”. This often translates to “Did you successfully apply the concepts we learned in class to this assignment?”. For example, if you build an app that is functional but breaks many design heuristics… that is not a successful application in this class.

Peer Evaluation: Many of the assignments that you complete will include some kind of peer evaluation. Usability isn’t a set of knowledge that one single person owns. Instead, software that is usable and works for one person may not for another. We will be critiquing each other’s work throughout the semester using the framing of I Like, I Wish, What If from Stanford’s design school.

Group Work: Group work can be challenging. As a result, in each group project, you will submit a brief assessment of you and your classmates’ work. At the end of the semester, I may use these assessments to reweight the group portion of your grade (either positively or negatively).

Academic Honesty

Emory aims to cultivate a community based on trust, academic integrity, and honor. Students are expected to act according to the highest ethical standards. For information on Emory’s Honor Code, please visit here.

Any student suspected of cheating or plagiarizing on a quiz, exam, or assignment will be reported to the Office of Student Conduct, who will investigate the incident and identify the appropriate penalty for violations.

Unless explicitly stated otherwise, you are expected to complete assignments on your own. It is appropriate to discuss your ideas with others to gain feedback and help with sticky problems. It is not appropriate to find an existing solution online or from your friends, modify them, and submit as your own work. If in doubt, confer with your instructor. It is much easier to ask about these things than handle the consequences of a poor decision.


All assignments are due at the start of class on the day listed in the schedule. You will have a total of 3 “free” late days to use for any homework assignments as needed throughout the course (e.g., you can use 1 late day for HW1 and 1 for HW3, …). These "free" days can apply only to homework assignments and cannot be used for research presentations or group projects. These are for any cases where Institute-approved absences do not apply, and no reason must be given to use them. After the 3 “free” late days are used up, any late assignments will receive a 10% per day penalty. Assignments turned in one week or later past the due date will not be graded and given a 0. Note that you have to clearly note on your assignment if you want to apply your late days. This has to be done at the time of submission, not later in the course. Once you use them, you cannot switch them later in the course, so plan wisely.

Office of Accessibility Services

Your success in this class is important to me. We all need accommodations because we all learn differently. If there are aspects of this course that prevent you from learning or exclude you, let me know as soon as possible. Together we'll develop strategies to meet both your needs and the requirements of the course.

I encourage you to visit the Office of Accessibility Services to determine how you could improve your learning as well. If you need official accommodations, you have a right to have these met. Students must renew their accommodation letter every semester they attend classes. Contact the Office of Accessibility Services for more information at (404) 727-9877 or email at accessibility@emory.edu. Additional information is available at the OAS website.

Regrade Policy

You can request a re-grade of an assignment within seven days of releasing the grade by sending an email to the course staff. The request should contain a written explanation of why you think that the grade is incorrect. We will look over your work again upon request. If we spot errors in grading, we will fix the error. This may end up assigning a lower score than the original if we find additional errors.

Student Support Services

In your time at Emory, you may find yourself in need of support. Here you will find some resources to support you both as a student and as a person.


Instructor: Dr. Emily Wall


Office Hours: Wednesdays 9:45a - 10:45a in W302E

Zoom link (if virtual, by appointment)


TA: Shiyao Li


Office Hours: Fridays 3:00p - 4:00p in W302

Zoom link (if virtual, by appointment)


TA: Randy Truong


Office Hours: Tuesdays 5:00p - 6:00p via Zoom

In person by appointment only; Location TBD