Usability I: Foundations Syllabus

Spring 2013, Section WDES1-CE9245.
Thursdays, February 21- March 14 2013.
The Woolworth building at 15 Barclay St, room 335B.

In our class, we'll look at the process of creating a usable website. We'll look at it from the standpoints of the business needs, how to perform usability testing, and how to design with usability in mind. Each class will have lecture and workshop segments.

Course Objectives

Students will be familiarized with best practices, theory, evaluation and testing methodologies. The lab portion of each class will prepare students to evaluate and test websites, as well as to design for better usability.

Course Requirements

General understanding of the capabilities of client-side technologies (HTML, JavaScript, etc), and their interaction with servers. Coding proficiency is not required.

Required Textbooks

Rocket Surgery Made Easy
Steve Krug, New Riders Press. 2010.
Commonly available at Barnes & Noble. Also available from Amazon and as an inexpensive eBook.

Research Based Web Design & Usability Guidelines
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Available as free PDF from

Class Discussion Group

You will receive an invitation to join the class LinkedIn group following the first class.


To get a "C"

  • Attendance & Punctuality: 25%
  • Class Participation: 25%
  • Homework: 50%

To get an "A":

  • Do everything required for a "C", and go above and beyond
  • Speak up, offer your opinion, and ask questions
  • Do extra work
  • Do excellent work
  • Contribute to the class

Course Policies

Because of the collaborative lab nature of the class, each student's participation and attendance is essential. A single missed class will result in a 12.5% reduction in a student's final grade, and two missed classes will not result in a passing grade. Homework must be handed in on time. Students will be expected to be present for the entire duration of each class.


Please submit all assignments by sending to nyuusability @
Wireframes and designs can be sketched and handed in by hand (as long as they are legible).

Class Website

All slides and homework assignments are maintained here on the class website

Lesson Details

Disclaimer: Lesson details and schedule is subject to change due to current events, guest speaker schedule changes and/or level and interests of students.

Lesson 1

  • Usability Overview

Lesson 2

  • Research Methods
  • Usability Testing
  • Test Plan
  • Mental Models
  • Personas

Lesson 3

  • Usability Test Workshop
  • Building a UX Portfolio for NYC
  • Accessibility

Lesson 4

  • Mobile Apps
  • Forms and Web Apps
  • Census Workshop
  • End of Class Review


Your Email

I cant respond to you if you dont give me your email address

Your Message

Sorry, didn't you want to say something to me?

What is the fourth word in this sentence?

Hmm, a human would know the answer to that.