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College of Professional and Global Education · School of Information

Web Usability
INFO 251

  • Spring 2023
  • Section 10
  • 3 Unit(s)
  • 01/25/2023 to 05/15/2023
  • Modified 05/22/2023

Canvas Information: Courses will be available January 25th, 6 am PT.

You will be enrolled in the Canvas site automatically.

Contact Information

Course Information

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 Description and Requisites

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)


INFO 202.

Classroom Protocols


Students are expected to participate fully in all class activities. It is expected that students will be open-minded and participate fully in discussions in class and debate in a mature and respectful manner. Use of derogatory, condescending, or offensive language including profanity is prohibited. Disagreement is healthy and perfectly acceptable. Expressing disagreement should always include an explanation of your reasoning and, whenever possible, evidence to support your position. In accordance with San José State University's Policies, the Student Code of Conduct, and applicable state and federal laws, discrimination based on gender, gender identity, gender expression, race, nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or disability is prohibited in any form.

Program Information

Course Workload

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 Goals

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes) Supported

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.

Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs)

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.

Course Materials


Required Textbooks:

  • Krug, S. (2014). Don't make me think, revisited: A common sense approach to web usability. Peachpit. Available through Amazon: 0321965515
  • Lichaw, D. (2016). The user's journey: Storymapping products that people love . Rosenfeld Media. Available through Amazon: 1933820314
  • Lynch, P., & Horton, S. (2016). Web style guide: Foundations of user experience design (4th ed.). Available through Amazon: 0300211651
  • Mathis, L. (2016). Designed for use (2nd ed.). The Pragmatic Bookshelf. Available through Amazon: 1680501607
  • Rosenfeld, L., Morville, P., & Arango, J. (2015). Information architecture: For the web and beyond (4th ed.). O'Reilly Media. Available through Amazon: 1491911689

Recommended Textbooks:

  • Greenberg, S. (2012). Sketching user experiences: The workbook. Amsterdam: Elsevier/Morgan Kaufmann. Available through Amazon: 0123819598
  • Norman, D. (2013). The design of everyday things: Revised and expanded edition. Basic Books. Available through Amazon: 0465050654

Course Requirements and Assignments

Full assignment 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 5.
  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 Project: (425 points)

  1. Usability Project Start: Choose your Usability Project Web Site(s). (25 points) Due February 19.
  2. Draft Usability Project and Peer-Reviews. Post draft project work by April 23 (100 points). Peer reviews due April 30. (100 points). (200 points total)
    CLO #1CLO #4CLO #5, CLO #6CLO #7, CLO #8CLO #9.
  3. Final Usability Project (200 points) Due May 15. (May be revised and resubmitted if submitted on time.)  
    Supports CLO #1CLO #4CLO #5, CLO #6CLO #7, CLO #8, and CLO #9.

Usability Method Practice Activities: (250 points)

  1. Usability Practice Activity 1. Basic Accessibility Validation and Usability Testing. (50 points). Due March 5.
    Supports CLO #1, CLO #3, and CLO #4.
  2. Usability Practice Activity 2. User Stories and Personas. (100 points).  Due March 19.
    Supports CLO #3CLO #4CLO #5, CLO #6CLO #7, CLO #8, and CLO #9.
  3. Usability Practice Activity 3. Card Sorting and Sketching/Storyboarding. (100 points). Due April 9.

Grading Information

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

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


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 (PDF), relevant university policy concerning all courses, such as student responsibilities, academic integrity, accommodations, dropping and adding, consent for recording of class, etc. and available student services (e.g. learning assistance, counseling, and other resources) are listed on the Syllabus Information web page. Make sure to visit this page to review and be aware of these university policies and resources.

Course Schedule

  1. Module 1. Introduction and Overview of the Course - January 25 - February 5
  2. Module 2. Accessibility, Usability, & User-Centered Design - February 6 - 19
  3. Module 3.  Overview of Usability Testing Methods - February 20 - March 5
  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 20 - April 2 (Spring Recess: March 27-31; Cesar Chavez Day March 31, 2023)
  6. Module 6. Designed for Use - April 3 - 16
  7. Module 7.  Modes, Hierarchies, etc. - April 17 - 30
  8. Module 8. Final Project Concentration - May 1 - 15

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. Tuesday January 31 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 16 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 3 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. Wednesday 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