Usability Engineering

Subject INFO30004 (2012)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2012.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 3 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2012:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 24 one-hour lectures (two per week) and 12 one-hour tutorials (one per week)
Total Time Commitment:

120 hours


50 points of 2nd level subjects.



Recommended Background Knowledge:


Non Allowed Subjects:

615-348 Human Computer Interaction

Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support:


Assoc Prof Frank Vetere


Dr Sean Maynard


Subject Overview:

How do you design technology that is useful, usable and satisfying? Usability Engineering is now a vital part of the IT industry for both work and leisure situations: tablets, aircraft cockpits, business software, car navigation devices, and so on. Students will learn techniques that are widely used in industry: contextual analysis of how technologies are currently used; principles for designing usable human computer interfaces; different styles of user interface, e.g. visual (presenting social network data), auditory (sound effects used in game systems), haptic (manipulation of remote devices, e.g. robots); and methods to evaluate the usability of new designs. Students will also learn the theory behind these techniques including aspects of human cognition and the theory of natural design.


On completion of this subject, students should be able to:

  • Define and distinguish between the different types of user interface, e.g. visual, auditory and haptic
  • Exploit cognitive and social factors that make interactive software usable
  • Apply key design principles and guidelines that assist user interface designers, and understand the limitations of such guidelines
  • Apply techniques of Usability Engineering across the development lifecycle
  • Develop a sound usability test and evaluation plan for a particular design project

  • A group project in two parts, with a first report (3000 words or equivalent) due mid-semester and a second report (3000 words or equivalent) due at the end of semester (50%)
  • A 2-hour written examination in the examination period (50%)

To pass the subject, students must obtain at least 50% overall

  • 25/50 for the group project
  • And 25/50 for the end-of-semester written examination
Prescribed Texts: None
Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

On completion of this subject, students should have developed the following generic skills:

  • Acquire design oriented problem-solving skills
  • Review and research skills
  • Team work skills
  • Written and oral presentation skills

Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Computing and Software Systems
Science Informatics
Science credit subjects* for pre-2008 BSc, BASc and combined degree science courses
Science-credited subjects - new generation B-SCI and B-ENG. Core selective subjects for B-BMED.
Related Breadth Track(s): Human Centred Computing
Working with Information

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