Interaction Design: An Overview

November 16, 2009

The process in general terms

  • Understand problem and its context
    Generate possible solutions
    Concretise the possible solutions
    Evaluate them
    Selection of possible solutions until one emerges
    Realise that one
    Continue or start again!

Put the user at the center

Understanding the user: a recurring theme, there are different aspects to this
  • asking users
  • observing users
  • involving users
  • using theory (about users) to inform designs and design practice
  • asking users
  • observing users
  • involving users
  • using theory (about users) to inform designs and design practice

User-centric View of Design Problems: PACT Analysis

  • PACT makes a good ‘user-centric’ framework for thinking about a design problem/brief
  • Take each category and work through it
  • Use the analysis to help focus/orient early design thinking
  • Important: revisit the analysis:
  • As you get deeper into the problem the analysis should change and/or get richer


  • Consider range of characteristics of people
  • Physiologically
  • Age differences, physical abilities
  • Psychologically
  • Attention, perception, memory
  • Forming the right ‘mental model’
  • Socially and Culturally


in general think of..

  • Goals, tasks and actions
  • Regular or unusual, weekly? Yearly?
  • Individual or distributed, involving others
  • Well-defined or vague
  • Continuous or interrupted



  • Physical environments for the activities
  • Social environments
  • Circumstances under which activities happen (time, place, pressure of work/time)
  • Amount and type of support for activities


  • Input
  • Getting data in; getting commands; security
  • Output
  • Characteristics of different displays (e.g. video vs. photographs; speech vs. screen)
  • Communications
  • Between people, between devices, speed, etc.
  • Always keeping one eye on the future

Doing a PACT analysis

  • Brainstorm the variety of P, A, C and Ts that are possible
  • Explore design implications
  • Write as detailed concrete stories…
  • …then group together into general scenes
  • Look for trade-offs between combinations of PACT
  • Think about how these might effect design

Design Awareness Exercise

In groups identify:

of an in-flight entertainment system

What are the design implications?


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