Saul Greenberg

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Motivational Introductions to HCI

A 1 hour motivational introductory seminar to HCI in various non-HCI courses, with an emphasis for doing quick and dirty usability studies to illustrate how effective even a bit of testing can be.


We all know that people hate computers. Yet they continue to use them in spite of this antipathy. The problem is that while computers are highly useful (and necessary), they are not particularly usable. This is our fault. As computer professionals, we know how to make computers dance for us, but we do not know how to make these same computers dance for our end users. As a consequence, we design or buy software that does not fit end user’s needs, their ways of thinking, their ways of working.

User-centered design is a discipline concerned with solving this problem by introducing a myriad of practical methods that help developers design for people. One simple – and extremely cheap – method is to perform user testing of prototypes in the early stages of development. I will show several examples of how this can be done.

Even though I am a professor, this will not be an ivory tower talk. At the end of this presentation, you should be able to (and should want to) do your own quick and dirty user testing of your software visions.

Powerpoint lectures

Topics Covered

  • Why people hate computers
  • Human computer interaction
  • Discount usability engineering
  • Case study: IBM Real Phone evaluation

Suggested Readings

  1. How to design usable systems.. Gould, J. (1988) In Readings in Human Computer Interaction: Towards the Year 2000 (2nd Edition). Baecker, R., Grudin, J., Buxton, W., and Greenberg, S. (1995). Morgan-Kaufmann.


Videos are used in the presentation. The first few illustrates the difference between how computers are advertised vs. how people actually view them. The others concentrate on showing a study of the IBM Real Phone system.

  • I Hate Computers. Copyright 2001 Matt Frantz. Published by independent opposition
  • My Dad is not a Nerd, Advertisement produced by the Sony Store. Downloaded from AdCritic.Com
  • The Disgruntled Employee, Source unknown.
  • Real Objects and Real Phone, IBM. extracted from Ben Sheiderman's Video series on Designing the UI
  • Real Phone Usability Study created by Saul Greenberg, 1999