INFO 251-10
Web Usability
Spring 2022 Syllabus

Diane K. Kovacs

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Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning January 26, 2022, at 6 am PT unless you are taking an intensive or a one-unit or two-unit class that starts on a different day. In that case, the class will open on the first day that the class meets.

Course Description

Through examination of theory, methodologies, and real-life cases, Info 251 offers a user experience (UX) framework for developing information systems. Students will learn the principles of user-centric design and style for particular circumstances and populations. (MLIS Electives)

Instructional Goals

Students will develop a usability evaluation/testing report for a library or other non-profit website of their choice.

Students may choose a usability evaluation/testing project from a list of client volunteer organizations that have asked to participate in this course, or any library or other non-profit website of their choice.

Students will design a unit of information literacy instruction for a specific group of learners, based in scientific learning perspectives and proven instructional design principles.

Students will engage with peers and considered cooperation and collaboration with others through presentation (screencast/recording) and mutual peer-reviewing of draft instructional design plans.

Students will complete a full instructional design plan and example instructional material as a final project for the course.

Course Requirements

Course Format

This course will be taught online using Canvas and Zoom at SJSU iSchool Online.

Info251 is taught entirely online and involves and requires a significant amount of:

  • required readings in required textbooks, online journals, misc. web sites. required listening to lecture recordings* (or reading the transcripts)

  • hands-on learning activities/worksheets (Canvas Assignment tools) and a project: instructional design plan, presentation, and example instructional materials.

  • participation in Guided Conversations (via the Canvas Discussion tool).Zoom sessions will be recorded. Listening to the recordings is required and assumed. Synchronous attendance in the Zoom sessions is optional, but please try to attend so you can ask questions in real-time.

*Zoom sessions will be recorded. Listening to the recordings is required and assumed. Synchronous attendance in the Zoom sessions is optional, but please try to attend so you can ask questions in real-time.

Primary/Technology Requirements
The primary course requirements are that students will:

Course Communications:

  • It is important to express your own opinions while also being respectful; suggest constructive ideas for improvement while evaluating other students' work; pose relevant questions; compare and contrast ideas; share and critique resources; communicate.

  • Please don't be shy to tell me if you see any errors in content or links. I can correct almost everything in our course content, if I know about the problem. E-mail

  • Please report Canvas technical problems to the tech support folks, as they will have the ability to deal with those.

  • email (Email) me or Google Chat me if you have any questions about the Canvas or the order of work. E-mail

  • Please whitelist or otherwise adjust your spam filters to allow the teacher's email to get to you:

  • I will post a weekly topic overview and update every Sunday evening to the Canvas Announcements tool.

  • I schedule 9 a.m.-10 a.m. Eastern time (6 a.m.-7 a.m. Pacific time) every weekday to respond to student work and questions via email. 

  • I am usually available via email and Google chat in the afternoon and evening on weekdays as well. 

  • I try very hard to have weekends off to spend with my family and friends but I will promptly reply to your questions and work on Mondays. And I do browse email for urgent questions, even on weekends.

  • I am physically located in Medina County, Ohio so I cannot meet with you in person or on the telephone.

Grading Policy and Due Dates:

  • You may revise and resubmit, for additional points, until you achieve mastery.

  • Due dates are guides to keep us on track to complete in one semester.

Assignment Submission Basic Format Guidelines:

Include in each assignment

  1. Your first and last name
  2. You may use any citation format.
  3. Type your work into a Word or text document and upload your completed file to the appropriate Canvas Assignments tool. You may alternatively type your work into a PowerPoint, upload it to Google docs and share the link, record your response as a screencast or audio file and share the media file or a link to the media file in the Canvas Assignment tool for this worksheet.

Course Calendar: Modules and Assignments:

Full assignments details and instructions are on the Canvas course pages. Assignment points total 1000.

  1. Module 1. Introduction and Overview of the Course - January 27 - February 6
  2. Module 2. Accessibility, Usability, & User-Centered Design - February 7 - 20
  3. Module 3.  Overview of Usability Testing Methods - February 21 - March 6
  4. Module 4. Implementation; Guerilla Usability Testing; In Person; Remote Testing; Expert Usability Review, Interviews, Personas, Story Mapping, and User Stories - March 7 - 20
  5. Module 5. Card Sorting, Sketching, Storyboarding, and Prototyping - March 21 - April 10 (Spring Recess: March 28 - April 1; Cesar Chavez Day: March 31 Observed)
  6. Module 6. Designed for Use - April 11 - 24
  7. Module 7.  Modes, Hierarchies, etc. - April 25 - May 8
  8. Module 8. Final Project Concentration - May 9 - 16

Optional Attendance/Required Listening to the Recording Zoom meetings Discussion/Lecture sessions scheduled as follows:
(This will be subject to some possible changes and additional optional online meeting dates depending on availability of guest speakers etc.)

  1. Wednesday, February 2 at 7 p.m. PT to 8 p.m. PT (10 p.m. ET to 11 p.m. ET) - Attendance strongly encouraged for first class information

  2. Thursday, February 17 at 7 p.m. PT to 8 p.m. PT (10 p.m. ET to 11 p.m. ET) Usability Project Choices

  3. Monday, April 11 at 7 p.m. PT to 8 p.m. PT (10 p.m. ET to 11 p.m. ET) Usability Project Draft and Peer-Reviews

  4. Tuesday, May 3 at 7 p.m. PT to 8 p.m. PT (10 p.m. ET to 11 p.m. ET) Usability Project Final Work

Full assignments details and instructions are on the Canvas course pages. Assignment points total 1000.

Class Participation (Readings, Recorded Lectures, etc.): (375 points) (Support CLO #1CLO #4CLO #5 CLO #6CLO #7, CLO #8CLO #9.)

  1. Entry Behavior and Learner Characteristics Survey. 25 points. Due February 2.
  2. 5 Guided Conversations on the readings and recorded lectures. 4@25 points each + 1@ 50 points (150 points total). Due the last day of each Topic period.
  3. 6 Quizzes on the readings and recorded lectures 25 points each. (150 points total). Due the last day of each Topic period.
  4. 5 Zoom meeting follow-up Quizzes 10 points each (50 points total). Due the last day of the topic period in which the Zoom meeting is scheduled.

Usability Method Practice Activities: (250 points)

  1. Usibility Practice Activity 1. Basic Accessibility Validation and Usability Testing. (50 points). Due March 6.
    Supports CLO #1, CLO #3 and CLO #4.
  2. Usability Practice Activity 2. User Stories and Personas. (100 points).  Due March 20.
    Supports CLO #3CLO #4CLO #5 CLO #6CLO #7, CLO #8CLO #9.
  3. Usability Practice Activity 3. Card Sorting and Sketching/Storyboarding. (100 points). Due April 10.

Usability Project: (375 points)

  1. Usability Project Start: Choose your Usability Project Web Site(s). (25 points) Due February 20.
  2. Draft Usability Project and Peer-Reviews. Post draft project work by April 24 (100 points). Peer reviews due May 1. (100 points). (200 points total)
    CLO #1CLO #4CLO #5 CLO #6CLO #7, CLO #8CLO #9.
  3. Final Usability Project (300 points) Due May 16. (May be revised and resubmitted if submitted on time.)  
    Supports CLO #1CLO #4CLO #5 CLO #6CLO #7, CLO #8CLO #9.

Course Workload Expectations

Success in this course is based on the expectation that students will spend, for each unit of credit, a minimum of forty-five hours over the length of the course (normally 3 hours per unit per week with 1 of the hours used for lecture) for instruction or preparation/studying or course related activities including but not limited to internships, labs, clinical practica. Other course structures will have equivalent workload expectations as described in the syllabus.

Instructional time may include but is not limited to:
Working on posted modules or lessons prepared by the instructor; discussion forum interactions with the instructor and/or other students; making presentations and getting feedback from the instructor; attending office hours or other synchronous sessions with the instructor.

Student time outside of class:
In any seven-day period, a student is expected to be academically engaged through submitting an academic assignment; taking an exam or an interactive tutorial, or computer-assisted instruction; building websites, blogs, databases, social media presentations; attending a study group;contributing to an academic online discussion; writing papers; reading articles; conducting research; engaging in small group work.

Course Prerequisites

INFO 202

Course Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Critique and improve Web sites, software, and other library-related systems.
  2. Master rough sketching, rapid ideation, and prototyping.
  3. Refine interaction designs by studying the user's experience in a structured setting.
  4. Apply the principles of heuristic evaluation to iterative design.
  5. Explore and implement affective computing, aesthetics, and narrative in computer interfaces.
  6. Apply theoretical and practical principles of design, usability, and accessibility.
  7. Reapply the fundamentals of good design to other interactive media besides the Web.
  8. Create designs that use familiar information architecture and navigation elements to meet specific needs.
  9. Create strategies for maximizing usage by recognizing when designs deny access to people with certain disabilities.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

INFO 251 supports the following core competencies:

  1. E Design, query, and evaluate information retrieval systems.
  2. G Demonstrate understanding of basic principles and standards involved in organizing information such as classification and controlled vocabulary systems, cataloging systems, metadata schemas or other systems for making information accessible to a particular clientele.
  3. H Demonstrate proficiency in identifying, using, and evaluating current and emerging information and communication technologies.


Required Textbooks:

  • Krug, S. (2014). Don't make me think, revisited: A common sense approach to web usability. Peachpit. Available through Amazon: 0321965515arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Lichaw, D. (2016). The user's journey: Storymapping products that people love . Rosenfeld Media. Available through Amazon: 1933820314arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Lynch, P., & Horton, S. (2016). Web style guide: Foundations of user experience design (4th ed.). Available through Amazon: 0300211651arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Mathis, L. (2016). Designed for use (2nd ed.). The Pragmatic Bookshelf. Available through Amazon: 1680501607arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain

Recommended Textbooks:

  • Greenberg, S. (2012). Sketching user experiences: The workbook. Amsterdam: Elsevier/Morgan Kaufmann. Available through Amazon: 0123819598arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Norman, D. (2013). The design of everyday things: Revised and expanded edition. Basic Books. Available through Amazon: 0465050654arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Rosenfeld, L., Morville, P., & Arango, J. (2015). Information architecture: For the web and beyond (4th ed.). O'Reilly Media. Available through Amazon: 1491911689arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain

Grading Scale

The standard SJSU School of Information Grading Scale is utilized for all iSchool courses:

97 to 100 A
94 to 96 A minus
91 to 93 B plus
88 to 90 B
85 to 87 B minus
82 to 84 C plus
79 to 81 C
76 to 78 C minus
73 to 75 D plus
70 to 72 D
67 to 69 D minus
Below 67 F


In order to provide consistent guidelines for assessment for graduate level work in the School, these terms are applied to letter grades:

  • C represents Adequate work; a grade of "C" counts for credit for the course;
  • B represents Good work; a grade of "B" clearly meets the standards for graduate level work or undergraduate (for BS-ISDA);
    For core courses in the MLIS program (not MARA, Informatics, BS-ISDA) — INFO 200, INFO 202, INFO 204 — the iSchool requires that students earn a B in the course. If the grade is less than B (B- or lower) after the first attempt you will be placed on administrative probation. You must repeat the class if you wish to stay in the program. If - on the second attempt - you do not pass the class with a grade of B or better (not B- but B) you will be disqualified.
  • A represents Exceptional work; a grade of "A" will be assigned for outstanding work only.

Graduate Students are advised that it is their responsibility to maintain a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA). Undergraduates must maintain a 2.0 Grade Point Average (GPA).

University Policies

Per University Policy S16-9, university-wide policy information relevant to all courses, such as academic integrity, accommodations, etc. will be available on Office of Graduate and Undergraduate Programs' Syllabus Information web page at: Make sure to visit this page, review and be familiar with these university policies and resources.

In order to request an accommodation in a class please contact the Accessible Education Center and register via the MyAEC portal.

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