User-centered interaction design life cycle model

February 3rd, 2010

I’m currently preparing for my MSc in Human-Computer Interaction with Ergonomics at UCL which I’ll begin in September. As I’m slowly working my way through the introductory reading list [pdf] I’ll create some posts here to help me organise and make sense of the information.

I’ll begin with the Interaction Design Lifecycle Model as described by Preece et al., 2002 in the book Interaction Design: Beyond Human-Computer Interaction. The model incorporates three principles of user-centered design and four activities of interaction design.

The principles of user-centered design

These principles were developed by John D. Gould and Clayton Lewis and described in the 1985 research paper Designing for Usability: Key Principles and What Designers Think [pdf]

  1. Early focus on users and tasks

  2. Empirical measurement

  3. Iterative design

The basic activities of interaction design

Preece et al. describe a basic model for the interaction design process that includes four activities as shown below. A number of academics and well known design agencies have created similar models. Zimmerman, J., Forlizzi, J., and Evenson, S., of the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University, presented a model in their paper “Taxonomy for Extracting Design Knowledge from Research Conducted During Design Cases.” [pdf] that included the six phases Define, Discover, Synthesize, Construct, Refine and Reflect. The design agencies IDEO (Observation, Brainstorming, Prototyping, Implementation) and frog design (Discover, Design, Deliver) use similar models. The model is also very similar to the international standard ISO 13407 Human-centered design processes for interactive systems.

  1. Identifying needs and establishing requirements for the user experience

  2. Developing alternative designs that meet those requirements

  3. Building interactive versions of the designs

  4. Evaluating what is being built throughout the process and the user experience it offers

In the report from the “HCI 2020″ forum organised by Microsoft Research, they suggest splitting the first activity in the life cycle into two and promote the conceptual analysis normally part of the first activity to its own. The goal is to ensure a focus on human values and ascertain what kinds of enduring value the user will get from using the system.

This kind of analysis then does not just take into account people’s interactions with computer technology, but looks at their interactions with the everyday world more broadly: in the environment, with everyday objects, with other people, as well with the hi-tech elements of their world.

One of the areas I plan to focus on during my degree is the role of emotions in interaction design. How to ensure the pleasurability (joy of use) goals receive the same attention as the standard usability goals (efficient, effective, engaging, error tolerant and easy to learn) in a design project. I believe the increased focus on human values in the design life cycle can be a big step towards that.

As I work my way through the reading list I’ll create new posts and expand on each of the UCD principles and ID activities above.

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