Introduction to User-Centred Interaction Design

USI Programme, Module M7

Panos Markopoulos

November 2004

The aim of this module is to provide a step-by-step introduction to user-centred  interaction design. This is achieved by means of a mini-project during which students execute a single iteration through a typical user-centred design cycle.  The project lasts two weeks and is punctuated by lectures that introduce students to some of the basic interaction design techniques.  Topics covered are:

The students have to present intermediate results at 4 stages of the project:

Projects will be executed by 5 teams of 4 USI's.  Teams should be mixed.

Topics for the mini-project

Shared public displays

John is a research student in the TU/e and is working for a student association.  The association organizes a party and John puts up some funny posters they knocked up together on the department announcement board.  The next day he is surprised to see that his announcements have been taken down and the department secretary is rather annoyed with him.  The board is clearly her responsibility and she makes sure that it is tidy, it portrays the image that the staff want to project to the outside world but also it is guaranteed to give sufficient prominence to information that must be noticed by the staff.  Indeed staff have come to rely on the board for a place to find out about department wide activities but also achievements of their colleagues.  As the board is next to the staff's mail box, it is often that workers will chat about items before starting their day.

The vignette above shows that public displays of information are usually an important component of social or professional life.  They serve as a material representation of culture, to set the tone of the place. They help share information, provide a shared focus for work activities and social interactions.  Their usage also reflects tacit structures and practices within groups and sometimes very explicit intentions by their users.  Maintaining them is usually deliberate, requires work but also some coordination amongst the team.

While this vignette focuses upon the working environment, public displays abound: you could find them at the scouts, on your fridge door, the local church, etc. 

We seek ways to support communities sharing a public display, so that they can achieve their purposes easier and better.

This project asks you to consider what better and easier might mean to diverse communities and to explore ways for supporting these communities. 

Each team should tackle a different user group, e.g., children at school, elderly in a community centre, professionals in an office environment, organizers of a public event.   Targeting different kinds of office environments, e.g., travel agent, university, software house, bank,  is also a good idea.





Lecture / Presentations


Mon 22/11 9:30-12:30 Panos

Introduction to the module

Defining Design Problems

User Profiles

Task Analysis

Group formation

Newman and Lamming chapter 2

Mayhew chapters 2 and 3

Jordan chapter 2.

Start working on your user study: user profiling and task analysis

Tue 23/11 9:30-1700


Creative workshop - the "extreme characters" technique

Design and make a physical model of a sound-capture device

Thu 25/11 9:30-10:30


Conceptual design, metaphors and lo-fi prototypes

Feedback regarding user study

Personas from Cooper

Pile Metaphor paper

Fri 26/11 13:30-17:00 Jeop Presentation of model of 'sound capture device'  

Tue 30/11, 9:30-12:30


Presentation of user requirements results

Hand-in Report on  User rrequirements

Wed 1/12 9:30-12:30


Introduction to User Testing

Consultation regarding conceptual design

Mayhew Chapter 10

Preece, Rogers and Sharp, chapters 10 and 11

Fri 3/12 13:00-15:00


Final Presentations

Hand in Final Report

Ground Rules for Presentations

Everyone should be present in the class at the starting time listed above.

To minimize change-over time, resenters should have one laptop connected, with access (through the network or USB stick or hard disc) to the presentations of each team.

Each group has 25 minutes max plan for presentations of 15 minutes and 10 minutes for discussion.

In preparing your presentations, make sure you describe:

It helps if the whole group is interactive, so you can learn from each other's experiences. So ask questions, share your thoughts about the work of other people.

One rule is though to remain constructive even when you are offering critique. You can inquire about the rationale of other people's work, suggest shortcomings, offer alternatives, but do so in a helpful manner that does not become personal.

Ground Rules for Reporting

Each report should have a cover, including the names of team members.

The report must be handed in as paper during the face to face meeting and also sent by email, by 17:00 on the day of its specified deadline.

Hand in your best shot no iterations of deliverables with me will be supported (i.e., I will not be correcting the same work till it is good enough).

Students should hand in a written report of 12-16 pages, following the simple template provided.