INFO 251-10
Web Usability
Spring 2017 Syllabus

Diane K. Kovacs
Office hours: Via e-mail; Chat/Instant Messaging appointments can be arranged. Remember this is Eastern Time zone for me. We need to both be able to see and work on the computer together. I will supply my phone number in teacher contact information on Canvas, but I am actually more accessible via e-mail than by phone. or are the best e-mail addresses to use. Chat/IM is available most of the time. You'll see my status to know if I'm available - IM: SaintsMrsDi (AOL,Yahoo), (Googlechat/Hangouts) and (MSN). In Second Life  I am Di Wind

Syllabus LinksResources
iSchool eBookstore
Optional Facebook Group

Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning January 26th, 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.

You will be enrolled into the Canvas site automatically.

Course Description

“Through examination of theory, methodologies, and real-life cases, INFO 251 offers a framework for developing user-friendly interfaces for use in information systems. Students will learn the principles of user-centric design and style for particular circumstances and populations.” (

Course Requirements

Course Format
This course will be taught online using Canvas - and once or twice monthly Collaborate meetings for discussion, questions, and some lecture, as well as possibly some guest speakers. Collaborate meetings are optional attendance but required listening to the recordings.

Primary Requirements
The primary course requirements are that students will:

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.

Assignment Due Dates
(Dates in this document are subject to change with fair notice. See below.)

Class Participation and Readings
Class participation and readings are key in this course. Class participation is cultivated through asynchronous guided conversations (6 in Canvas) and optional attendance required listening Collaborate meetings. Guided conversations are guided by relevant questions that require you to self-reflect on the readings, lectures, and your other relevant experience participating in instruction as a learner, a user, and as a user-centered designer 50 class participation points are awarded for each guided conversation posting just to encourage participation (300 points total).  10 extra credit points may be earned by participating in an optional Facebook group where we can interact with guest speakers and each other informally. INFO251 Web Usability SJSU iSchool Class Discussion Optional Group (Kovacs) -

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 and collaborate.

Blackboard Collaborate
Optional Once a Month Collaborate 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. Tuesday, January 31 at 7 p.m. PT-8 p.m PT (10 p.m. - 11p.m. ET) (10 p.m. - 11p.m. ET) - Attendance strongly encouraged for first class information
  2. Wednesday, February 22 at 7 p.m. PT-8 p.m PT (10 p.m. - 11p.m. ET)
  3. Thursday, March 23 at 7 p.m. PT-8 p.m PT (10 p.m. - 11p.m. ET)
  4. Monday, April 17 at 7 p.m. PT-8 p.m PT (10 p.m. - 11p.m. ET)
  5. Tuesday, May 9 at 7 p.m. PT-8 p.m PT (10 p.m. - 11p.m. ET)

Full assignments details and instructions are on the Canvas course pages. Assignment points total 1000 with up to 10 points of extra credit for participating in the private class Facebook group INFO251 Web Usability SJSU SLIS Class Discussion Optional Group (Kovacs).  

NOTE: All assignments must be submitted by due dates. Points will be taken off for submissions more than 3 days late. Presentation and Practice Activities may be revised/rewritten/resubmitted for additional points if the resubmissions are submitted within one week of the scheduled due date.

  1. 6 Guided Conversations + misc. participation 50 points each. 350 points total. Support CLO #1CLO #4CLO #5 CLO #6CLO #7, CLO #8CLO #9.,  Due the last day of each Topic period.
  2. Entry Behavior and Learner Characteristics Survey. 25 points. Due February 4.
  3. Practice Activities - 125 points total
  4. Final Project - 500 point total
    • Final Project (DRAFT/Peer Reviews) Supporting Web Site and Screencast on a Usability Testing of a site of your choice, using a method of your choice, and a user or user group of your choice. 200*points (*100 for posting 100 for peer-reviewing) Supports CLO #1CLO #4CLO #5 CLO #6CLO #7, CLO #8CLO #9. Post by April 29. Peer reviews Due by May 6.
    • Final Project (FINAL) Screencast and Supporting Web site on a Usability Testing of a site of your choice, using a method of your choice, and a user or user group of your choice. 300 points. Supports CLO #1CLO #4CLO #5 CLO #6CLO #7, CLO #8CLO #9., Due May 16. (May be revised and resubmitted if submitted on time.)

Assignment Basic Format Guidelines
Iinclude in each assignment:

  1. Name of the assignment
  2. Your first and last name
  3. Your email address
  4. Date
  5. Use .doc or .txt or other universally readable format.

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:

  • Greenberg, S. (2012). Sketching user experiences: The workbook. Amsterdam: Elsevier/Morgan Kaufmann. Available through Amazon: 0123819598arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • 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
  • Mathis, L. (2016). Designed for use (2nd ed.). The Pragmatic Bookshelf. Available through Amazon: 1680501607arrow 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

Recommended Textbooks:

  • Beaird, J., & George, J. (2014). The principles of beautiful web design. SitePoint. Available through Amazon: 0992279445arrow 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
  • Nielsen, J. (1999). Designing web usability. New Riders Publishing. Available through Amazon: 156205810Xarrow 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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