Interaction design, user experience and usability

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Introduction: useful, usable and desirable

(User) interaction design, user experience (design) and usability (testing) as well as other disciplines such as human computer interaction or ergonomics all are concerned by the same problem: Creating useful, usable and pleasant artifacts, such as websites, computer programs or physical objects.

This is a short overview page. See Design and usability methods and techniques for more information about various methods and techniques.

It is in our opinion very difficult to clearly separate various fields related to software and web design. It seems that - over time - various paradigms dominated in either academia or in practice or in both. Earlier work started in human-computer interaction and the related field of human factors (or ergonomics). Technical aspects were rather discussed under the label of user interface design. In the mid-nineties to the mid-2000, usability and user interaction design were the popular umbrella terms and sometimes still are (e.g. see Nowadays (after 2010) user experience seems to dominate, since it also stresses innovation, satisfaction and usefulness.

Depending on what field a person is working in and or what role s/he plays in a design process, his/her main interests and focus may be different, but all the major issues remain the same in a design process. Whether a person calls him/herself a interaction designer, a user interaction designer, a user experience designer, a interface designer, a usability specialist, a HCI researcher, etc. may be an indicator of his/her specialization, but also express some opinion about design priorities and his/her "cultural" affinity. In particular, we believe that there often is a quite strong animosity between visual interface designers and usability specialists.

Anyhow, there is no clear consensus on how various "fields" fit together and what certain job titles mean. See for example the many discussion at IxDA, e.g. Interaction Designer vs User Experience Designer vs User Interface designer. As of 2011, a consensus seems to emerge that just Design or maybe User experience and user experience design is the umbrella of "all of it".

List of subfields (including infamous confusing abbreviations)

List of design and evaluation methods and techniques (to be completed)



See other articles for many more links.

Study programs


Most videos might be useful to show in class, others are too long for that. I am not sure that I found the best ones, need more time - 15:38, 13 March 2011 (CET).

User experience design
(User experience and user experience design)
  • User experience design in the google area. NavigationArts' Director of Information Architecture, Kelley McDonald, discusses how to engage site visitors through effective site structure and relevant content. (Just talk, but good).
  • Understanding and Designing the Everyday Internet, UX Week 2010 | Elizabeth Churchill. This is a longer 45 min talk by a Yahoo principal research scientist. Shows what big companies are looking at when they start being interested in people (vs. simple analytics).
Usability for web sites
(usability testing)
Usability for mobile devices
User interaction design
(User interaction and user interface design)
Emotional design
(Design and emotion)
Sketching, wireframing, blueprints
(web wireframe)
Landing page optimization
  • Landing Page Optimization 101 (6 min Vimeo). By sitepronews. Explains some kind of quasi-experimental design to test conversions from a landing page.
About UxD and IxD, it's difference, etc.
(User experience and user experience design)
(web accessibility)
  • The mother of all demos. On December 9, 1968, Douglas C. Engelbart et et al., Stanford Research Institute, presented a 90-minute live public demonstration of the online system, NLS, that included many elements of today's UI systems. (You Tube, several installments).


Essential interaction design, user experience and usability bibliography

This is a common bibliography for all related articles.

  • Brooke, John, 1996. SUS: A "quick and dirty" usability scale. In P. W. Jordan, B. Thomas, B. A. Weerdmeester, & I. L. McClelland (Eds.), Usability evaluation in industry (pp. 189–194). London: Taylor & Francis. DOC format
  • Cooper, Alan (2004). The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity. Sams - Pearson Education. ISBN 0672326140.
  • Dreyfuss Henry (2003). Designing for People. New York: Allworth Press. ISBN 9781581153125
  • Dumas, JS, and Redish, Janice, A. (1999) Practical Guide to Usability Testing, Intellect Books.
  • Garret, Jesse James (2002), The Elements of USer Experience, User-Centered Design for the Web, New Riders Publishing. The book homepage, includes a free central diagram plus free chapter two.
  • Gremillion, Ben . 2012. A Field Guide to Usability Testing. Smashing Magazine.
  • Hackos, JoAnn T. and Janice C. Redish (1998). User and Task Analysis for Interface Design. John Wiley. ISBN 0471178314
  • Horton, Sarah (2005). Access by Design, New Riders, ISBN 0-321-31140-X.
  • Horton, Sarah (2005). Acces by Design online at Universal Usability: A universal design approach to web usability.
  • Hoffmann, R., & Krauss, K. (2004, October). A critical evaluation of literature on visual aesthetics for the web. In Proceedings of the 2004 annual research conference of the South African institute of computer scientists and information technologists on IT research in developing countries (pp. 205-209). South African Institute for Computer Scientists and Information Technologists.
  • Krug, Steve (2006), Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, New Riders, ISBN 9780321344755
  • Krug, Steve (2009), Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems, New Riders, ISBN 0321657292.
  • Lavie, T., & Tractinsky, N. (2004). Assessing dimensions of perceived visual aesthetics of web sites. International journal of human-computer studies, 60(3), 269-298.
  • Lynch, Patrick J. and Sarah Horton (2009), Web Style Guide, Basic Design Principles for Creating Web Sites, 3rd Edition, Yale University Press. ISBN 0300137370. (see also the free version)
  • Moggridge Bill (2007). Designing Interactions. The MIT Press. ISBN 0262134748.
  • Rubin, Jeffrey (1994) Handbook of Usability Testing (1st edition). John Wiley and Sons, New York, NY
  • Rubin, Jeffrey and Dana Chisnell (2008). Handbook of usability testing (2nd edition): how to plan, design, and conduct effective tests, Wiley, ISBN 9780470185483
  • Travis, David (2014), Bluffer's Guide to ISO 9241, On-line, 9th edition. PDF (£9)
  • Travis, David (2015), Usability Test Plan Toolkit, On-line, 9th edition. Word (£9). This toolkit helps planning your next usability study. It includes various Word templates that you can adapt and reuse.
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) (2004,+), The Research-Based Web Design & Usability Guidelines, free e-book available at
  • Unger Russ; Carolyn Chandler (2009). A Project Guide to UX Design: For user experience designers in the field or in the making, New Riders, ISBN 0321607376

About standards

  • Gediga, G., Hamborg, K., Düntsch, I. (1999)The IsoMetrics usability inventory: An operationalisation of ISO 9241-10. Behaviour and Information Technology
  • Marghescu, D. (2008) Usability Evaluation of Information Systems: A Review of Five International Standards, in Barry, C., Lang, M., Wojtkowski, W., Wojtkowski, G., Wrycza, S., & Zupancic, J. (eds) (2008) The Inter-Networked World: ISD Theory, Practice, and Education, Springer-Verlag: New York, (Proceedings of 16th International Conference on Information Systems Development (ISD 2007), Galway, Ireland, August 2007). PDF preprint
  • Oppermann, R., Reiterer, R. (1997) Software Evaluation Using the 9241 Evaluator Usability Evaluation Methods. Behaviour and Information Technology v.16 n.4/5 p.232-245.
  • Prümper, P. (1999) Test it: ISONORM 9241/10.In: Bullinger H-J and Ziegler J (eds), Proceedings of HCI International, Munich, 22-27 August 1999. Lawrence Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJ, USA.

See also (links to bibliographies)