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Introduction to User-Centred Interaction Design

USI Programme, Module E1-4 by Panos Markopoulos

November 2005

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 mini-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 3 stages of the project:

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

Topics for the mini-project

John has an extremely messy room.  Piles of paper litter his desk.  Some of them carry the remains of earlier attempts to get organized: post-it notes announcing what the content of the pile was.  The room has 3 whiteboards.  Magnets keep in place print-outs of mails, excel sheets with things that obviously look like timetables/calendards, adverts of products, formal letters, photo-printouts, and drawings from his kids.  Post-it notes contain passwords for his file system and various web-services, messages left by colleagues on his door, reminders to himself that are faded from years ago.  Writing on the whiteboard includs notes, to-do lists, calculations that were once relevant and meaningful and some notes that are still crucial and necessary on a daily basis. 

This rich whitebord is not the only external display that John uses.  He often works at  his colleagues offices with them and would like to have access to his whiteboard or piles of papers on his desk - let alone the files on his PC.  Especially his mailbox and mail archive are things that John needs to consult quite often in group situations.

The mess with John is getting from bad to worse...The conference table in his room is now a cross between his whiteboard and his desk.  It contains piles like those on the desk, though these piles tend to me more recent and smaller (and definitely collect less dust).  There is writing on the table, but thankfully still on pieces of paper rather than on the table surface itself.  These have been built, reorganized and re-interpreted during several meetings.  John's mess seems to expand also to the announcement board outside his room and in the coffee area, where he sometimes places announcements of general interest or works with colleagues in impromptu meetings.

John needs to do some housekeeping or his mess will lose its organized character and he will lose useful notes, records of past discussions and useful tools for collaboration.

This vignette highlights the need for shared public displays to support group activities.  This  can be for knowledge workers, students, customers at a travel agent, fashion designers, etc. The purpose can be work but it can also be entertainment, e.g., sharing pictures, cultural activities, etc.

Each team should tackle their preferred target user group, e.g., children at school, families at home, 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.


Recommended text book : Preece,J., Rogers,Y., and Sharp, H., Interaction Design, Wiley, 2002.

I will also be handing out reading from the following books:



Lecture / Presentations


Mon 28/11,  9:30-13:00

Introduction/Overview of module

Defining Design Problems

User Profiles


Group formation

Mayhew chapters 2

Jordan chapter 3


Wed 30/11,  9:30-11:00

Personas and Task Analysis

Personas by Cooper

Mayhew Chapter 3

Thu 1, 9:30-11:30


Prepare personas and task analysis for your project

Fri 2, 9:30-12:00

Presentations of User Study

Draft report on problem definition and user requirements (deadline Fri Dec 1, 17:00)

Mon 5/12 9:30-12:30

and 13:30-15:00

Conceptual design, metaphors and lo-fi prototypes, idea generation

Preece, Rogers & Sharp, chapter 8

Make conceptual designs for your projects

Wed 7/12 9:30-12:30

Detailed Design , Usability Heuristics &  Usability Testing

Preece, Rogers and Sharp, chapters 10 and 11

Fri 9/12 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, presenters 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.

Reports must be mailed by17:00 on the day of its specified deadline.

Hard copies of interim reports should be handed in on the first meeting after the deadline.

The hard copy of the final report should be handed in during the final presentation.

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).

You can use any format you like e.g., the SIGCHI format or the simple template provided.