Course Overview

Prerequisite: ENG 517 Advanced Technical Writing, Editing and Document Design


Our class​ ​​examines the​ usability testing of design and web sites​ as well as a brief introduction to user experience (UX) studies​. We will discuss the nature of design​ and usability ​especially​ how they interact to make solutions easy or difficult to use for particular audiences.​ ​We will examine a variety of testing including inquiry​ based​, qualitative, and quantitative testing methods. We will discuss the trade-offs among these various types of tests and will analyze which ones are most appropriate for various rhetorical and developmental situations. You will ​engage in multiple methods for conducting tests when time and funding preclude lab-based testing.

You will conduct several tests and studies on real world websites. Essential parts of the testing process, including planning, getting test subjects, preparing test materials, conducting the test, analyzing the data you collect, and reporting on results and recommendations will all be part of the class. The texts you will read extensively will concern the theories and concepts behind usability testing, the pragmatic practices that inform it, and the place of usability in larger discussions of user experience.

Learning Outcomes

After this class, you will be familiar with:

  • usability theories
  • types of usability tests
  • usability and delivery

Some of the activities we will focus on include:

  • different types of usability tests
  • balancing types of tests with project constraints
  • collaborative work

After this class, you will have produced:

  • a significant body of knowledge and a new skill set to add to your portfolio.
  • several kinds of usability studies
  • written reports for your results

Texts (required):

I encourage you to obtain your own copies of our books, however, many of them are also available through our NCSU library course reserve.