Course Policies & Syllabus

Welcome to the Fall 2018 offering of ENGR3220, UX Design. This course meets Mondays and Thursdays 9am to 10:40am in AC213.

Instructors: Marco Morales

Teaching Assistants / NINJAs: Rachel Yang, Matthew Beaudouin-Lafon

Catalog Description

Credits: 0-4-0-0

Hours: 4-4-4

Prerequisites: ENGR 2250 User Oriented Collaborative Design (required); ENGR 2510 Software Design or other software development experience (recommended)

Fulfills Design Depth requirement

A hands-on exploration of the design and development of user interfaces, taking into account the realities of human perception and behavior, the needs of users, and the pragmatics of computational infrastructure and application. Focuses on understanding and applying the lessons of human interaction to the design of usable computer applications; will also look at lessons to be learned from less usable systems. This course will mix studio (open project working time) and seminar (readings and discussion) formats.

Course Objectives

Students completing this course should be able to:

  • Identify target users for a design; elicit and model their goals.
  • Define a conceptual model that supports user tasks to accomplish defined goals.
  • Produce an interface/interaction design for a system that embodies a particular conceptual model.
  • Construct low and high fidelity prototypes of an interface/interaction design.
  • Evaluate prototypes and implemented systems through techniques including
    • heuristic evaluation
    • user interviews
    • (small scale) field studies.
  • Refine prototypes based on feedback and evaluation.
  • Articulate and apply an understanding of cognitive ergonomics, including the cognitive and perceptual constraints that affect user interface design.
  • Understand and apply professional ethics, standards, and obligations, including the conducting of user interactions in an ethical and professional manner.
  • Understand ways that different practitioners, processes, and tools facilitate an initial idea goes from thought to sketch to mock up to prototype to functional system.
  • Identify ways to establish consistency when an interface extends across mobile and web and/or other platforms.


Your course grade will consist of a combination of your grades on:

  • The course project (approximately 50%). This consists of a series of phases with deadlines on a weekly to bi-weekly basis (as indicated on the Course Calendar). Grades will generally be assigned per team, not per individual (with positive or negative variations when individual actions warrant them). Intermediate stages of phase work will receive feedback, but the final grade on the project will reflect an overall assessment of the written and presentation components from various phase deliverables as well as the final product, rather than a weighted sum of intermediate products. Of the 50% of the final grade based on the course project, 30% (i.e., 15% of the final course grade) will be assigned after the completion of the Design Development phase.
  • Individual assignments (approximately 20%). This includes all non-course-project homework assignments during the semester as well as the individual portion of the heuristic evaluation and the self-assessment reflection.
  • Design Challenges (approximately 20%). Completing of 4 Design Challenges will involve individually working on challenges that you pick (from a set of approximately 8) on your own time between the 6th and 13h week of the semester. The challenges will be aligned with the course objectives above.
  • Professionalism (approximately 10% except in extreme cases). This includes class participation, teamwork, adherence to deadlines, collaboration acknowledgements, etc.

Although these percentages are provided as guidance, the grade assigned to a student may deviate from these proportions to take into account individual circumstances and factors (including professional conduct) and is determined at the sole discretion of the instructors.

Course Policies

  • Collaborate liberally. Acknowledge any collaboration. On each assignment, indicate which members on your team played what roles, with whom you spoke (users, classmates, etc.), and any other help (including online research, etc.) you may have received. Also indicate that no help was received beyond that which is documented. Exception: Do not collaborate on the individual assignments, except as explicitly indicated, or on design challenges!
  • Come to class on time, prepared. Be respectful of others during discussion.
  • Class participation matters. Quality, not quantity, is the measure. You may pass when called upon, but frequent passing is strongly discouraged and will be noted.
  • Don't use your laptop or mobile devices during discussion periods.
  • You are expected to be present at the beginning of each class unless specifically told otherwise. During working sessions, you may leave the classroom but should indicate where you can be found or how you can be reached by leaving a note in a visible place. Do not disappear.
  • It is your responsibility to let us know (well) in advance if you will need to miss class for any reason. (Reasons that cannot reasonably be known in advance should be communicated as soon as possible after the fact and should be significant.) You are responsible for any missed material as well as for coordination with your team.
  • Turn in assignments on time. The assignments are tightly sequenced and falling behind in one phase puts the next at risk and places unreasonable burdens on the instructor and your classmates.

Additional Policies

It is Olin College’s policy to comply fully with all state and federal disability laws. Olin does not discriminate against applicants or students with disabilities, and will consider modification to academic programs where necessary to ensure that our requirements are not discriminatory, as long as the modifications do not fundamentally alter the nature of our programs. The Office of Student Life coordinates services for students with learning disabilities, sensory impairments, psychological disabilities and medical conditions. Students are responsible for identifying themselves to the Assistant Dean of Student Life for Advising and providing appropriate documentation of their disability and need for accommodation in a timely manner. Students requesting accommodation should contact the Assistant Dean of Student Life for Advising as soon as possible after matriculation.

Services for students with learning disabilities may include, but are not limited to, academic accommodations, coaching on organizational and time management skills, faculty notification and academic advising. Services for students with physical, sensory, or psychological impairments as well as medical conditions may include, but are not limited to, academic accommodations, assistance with adaptive technology, accessibility accommodations and academic advising. Any specific modifications granted will be based on detailed discussions with each student about their particular situation, and on information from a medical care provider concerning the student’s disability and related needs.

The teaching team assumes that all of us learn in different ways, and that the organization of any course will accommodate each student differently. Please talk to us as soon as you can about your individual learning needs and how this course can best accommodate them. Even if you do not have a documented disability, remember that other support services are available to all students.


Lynn Stein developed Olin's original HFID course, which UX Design builds upon. Lynn was informed by the work of: Prof. Marti Hearst of UC Berkeley SIMS, and Prof. Scott Klemmer of Stanford, among others. Each time we offer the course with co-instructors (a long list now), we learn from them and all visitors who grace us with their presence.