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University | Computing Science | Modules | ITNP43 | Syllabus Updated 11/09/14 17:40
ITNP43 - Interface Design and the World Wide Web Syllabus Autumn 2014








Prof. Bruce Graham, Room 4B70 (Module Co-ordinator)
Dr David Cairns, Room 4B87


15 credits at SCQF level 11



Learning Outcomes

The module aims to provide an extensive and detailed knowledge of the construction of web pages using the latest standard version of hypertext markup language (HTML) and cascading style sheets (CSS). A critical awareness will be established of the world-wide web (WWW): where it comes from, the technologies that are used and how standards are set by the WWW Consortium. The theories, principles and concepts underlying human-computer interface usability, design, implementation and evaluation are explored. The practical implementation of web pages is used as an example and the ability to critically analyse the design and usability of web pages will be established.

Upon taking this module, students should have demonstrated the following skills:

  • Competence in the use of the PC, the Windows operating system and associated software
  • A detailed understanding of the construction and presentation of hypertext documents for the WWW
  • A critical  appreciation of concepts in human-computer interaction
  • Design of user interfaces with a strong focus on the visual aspects of information presentation
  • Ability to critically analyse real user interface needs for concrete software systems.
  • Demonstrate the ability to apply theory and techniques to unseen problems without reference to notes, to work independently and under a time constraint.


The lecture topics are as follows:

HTML and the World Wide Web - 8 Lectures

  • Introduction to the WWW, its history; hypertext file transfer
  • Hypertext Markup Language: Basic tags, inclusion of media elements, lists, tables, forms
  • Use of cascading style sheets (CSS)
  • HTML standards and a brief overview of XML.

Designing the User Interface - 8 Lectures

  • Motivations for human factors in design: safety-critical systems, industrial and commercial uses, office, home, and entertainment applications.
  • The place of human factors, usability and interface design in the software life cycle.
  • Adjusting the computing environment to the user (accommodation of human diversity): cognition, perception and physiology. 
  • Mechanisms of interaction with machines (I/O devices [mouse, keyboard, VDU, ...], interaction styles [command line, menus, GUIs, VR]).
  • Usability, completeness, consistency: the design of the user interface, particularly web interfaces
  • Evaluating the user interfaces, usability testing.

The module also includes tutorials and a substantial practical component, which will complement the lectures.

Students are expected to complete a series of extra practical worksheets in their own time that will introduce them to the university's computing equipment and to basic computer applications.  The material to be covered in these worksheets will not be formally assessed.


The assessment consists of an assignment (50%) and an exam (50%).  The assignment will cover the design of a web site, technical aspects of web page implementation, testing of that website, and a final critical analysis of the finished product in the context of the WWW.


In order to be considered for a pass grade for the module you must

  • Submit the assessed coursework (assignment)
  • Attend the examination.

That is, both the assignment and the exam are compulsory components of the assessment of this module.

Non-submission of the assignment will result in an overall Fail for the module as a whole. Assessed coursework submitted late will be accepted up to seven calendar days after the submission date (or expiry of any agreed extension) but the mark will be lowered by three points per calendar day or part thereof. After seven days the piece of work will be deemed a non-submission, and will result in the award of Fail for the module as a whole. This rule (regarding coursework) may be relaxed for students who can show good cause for failure to submit. Good cause may include illness (for which a medical certificate or other evidence will be required).

If a student is unable to attend the Main examination, he/she must apply to the Student Programmes Office for a Deferred examination. If a Deferred examination is not granted, then the Examiners may allow a Resit examination. The mark awarded following a Resit examination is capped at 50.


Students are expected to attend all classes in order to take the most advantage of all educational opportunities offered.




  • For the HTML part of the module, either of:
    • J. Niederst Robbins. Learning Web Design. O’ Reilly, 4th Edition. 2012, ISBN 9781449319274.
      (If you can afford only one book for this course, this is the one that we recommend, but note that there are some excellent online tutorials for this material.
      An older book is also fine (but uses XHTML): J. Niederst. Web Design in a Nutshell. O’ Reilly, 3rd Edition. 2006, ISBN 0596009879.)

    • M. MacDonald. Creating a Web Site: The Missing Manual. O’ Reilly, 2011, ISBN 144939874-X.

  • For the design part of the module, either of:
    • Y. Rogers, H. Sharp, and J. Preece. Interaction Design: Beyond Human-Computer Interaction, Wiley, 2011 (3rd edition). ISBN 978-0-470-66576-3.

    • B. Shneiderman, C. Plaisant, M. Cohen, S. Jacobs. Designing the User Interface: Strategies for Effective Human-Computer Interaction, Pearson, 5th edition 2010 (earlier editions are acceptable alternatives), ISBN 978-0-321-60148-3.

Background Reading

  • D A Norman. The Design of Everyday Things. Basic Books. 2002, ISBN 0465067107.
    (A wonderful little book from which everyone can learn.)

  • S Krug. Don't Make Me Think: A common sense approach to web usability. New Riders, 2nd edition, 2006, ISBN 0-321-24475-8.
    (A very clear, humourous and thought-provoking book specifically on web design - although some of the highlighted issues also apply to interface design more generally.)

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