Chapter 9: The Process of Interaction Design

Chapter Introduction | Web Resources | Assignment Comments | Teaching Materials


The main aims of this chapter are to:

  • Consider what doing interaction design involves.
  • Explain some advantages of involving users in development.
  • Explain the main principles of a user-centered approach.
  • Present a simple lifecycle model of interaction design.
  • Ask and provide answers for some important questions about the interaction design process.
  • Consider how interaction design activities can be integrated into the wider product development lifecycle.


Design is a practical and creative activity with the aim of developing a product that helps its users achieve their goals. In previous chapters, we looked at different kinds of interactive products, issues that need to be taken into account when doing interaction design, some of the theoretical basis for the field, and techniques for gathering and analyzing data to understand users' goals. In this chapter we start to explore how we can design and build interactive products.

Chapter 1 defined interaction design as being concerned with 'designing interactive products to support the way people communicate and interact 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 user-centered 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, discuss user-centered design, and revisit the four basic activities of the interaction design process that were introduced in Chapter 1. We also introduce a lifecycle model of interaction design that captures these activities.