Authors: Preece, Rogers & Sharp
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The Process of Interaction Design


Chapter Introduction | Web Resources | Assignment comments | Teaching Materials


Design is a practical and creative activity, the ultimate intent of which is to develop a product that helps its users achieve their goals. In previous chapters, we looked at different kinds of interactive products, issues you need to take into account when doing interaction design and some of the theoretical basis for the field. This chapter is the first of four that will explore how we can design and build interactive products.

Chapter 1 defined interaction design as being concerned with "designing interactive products to support people in their everyday and working lives". But how do you go about doing this?

Developing a product must begin with gaining some understanding of what is required of it, but where do these requirements come from? Whom do you ask about them? Underlying good interaction design is the philosophy of user­centered design, i.e., involving users throughout development. But who are the users? Will they know what they want or need even if we can find them to ask? For an innovative product, users are unlikely to be able to envision what is possible, so where do these ideas come from?

In this chapter, we raise and answer these kinds of questions and discuss the four basic activities and key characteristics of the interaction design process that were introduced in Chapter 1. We also introduce a lifecycle model of interaction design that captures these activities and characteristics.

The main aims of this chapter are to:

  • Consider what 'doing' interaction design involves.
  • Ask and provide answers for some important questions about the interaction design process. Introduce the idea of a lifecycle model to represent a set of activities and how they are related.
  • Describe some lifecycle models from software engineering and HCI and discuss how they relate to the process of interaction design.
  • Present a lifecycle model of interaction design.