University of Technology Sydney

31260 Fundamentals of Interaction Design

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2022 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Information Technology: Computer Science
Credit points: 6 cp

Subject level:


Result type: Grade and marks

Recommended studies:

Knowledge of interactive technologies, design and programming skills are useful.


This subject focuses on the design, evaluation and implementation of interactive computing systems for human use within actual situations. Students gain an understanding of human–computer interaction (HCI) and interaction design principles, including the main concepts, tools and techniques available to build human-centred systems. The subject considers the effects of the different metaphors for human activity that designers use in their systems and how human-centred design and evaluation methods can improve the usability of computer systems.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:

1. Critique, analyse and evaluate the usability and usefulness of information technology using well developed perceptive and analytic skills.
2. Design and evaluate usable and useful digital systems by applying Human-Centred Design skills.
3. Discuss what Interaction Design, Human-Computer Interaction and Design thinking are.
4. Describe the crucial processes within a Human-Centred technology design approach.
5. Identify and exploit the constraints and resources that human activities bring to technology design and use.
6. Recognise the range of approaches, techniques, tools, and methods available to them when designing useful and usable technology.

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes specifically to the development of the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs):

  • Design Oriented: FEIT graduates apply problem solving, design and decision-making methodologies to develop components, systems and processes to meet specified requirements. (C.1)
  • Technically Proficient: FEIT graduates apply abstraction, mathematics and discipline fundamentals, software, tools and techniques to evaluate, implement and operate systems. (D.1)

Contribution to the development of graduate attributes

Engineers Australia Stage 1 Competencies

This subject contributes to the development of the following Engineers Australia Stage 1 Competencies:

  • 1.1. Comprehensive, theory based understanding of the underpinning natural and physical sciences and the engineering fundamentals applicable to the engineering discipline.
  • 1.5. Knowledge of engineering design practice and contextual factors impacting the engineering discipline.
  • 2.3. Application of systematic engineering synthesis and design processes.
  • 3.2. Effective oral and written communication in professional and lay domains.

Teaching and learning strategies

This subject includes workshop sessions with some lecture presentations (1 hour) and tutorial sessions (1.5 hours). The workshop and lecture presentations will allow students to learn the theoretical aspects of Interaction Design, while the tutorials will allow students to work individually and with a group on problems that contribute to their overall assessment. The learning activities are designed so that students are provided with continuous guidance and formative feedback in attempting and completing the assessment items. The activities are designed to iteratively build the students’ skills, confidence and understanding in the subject matter, providing them with the best possible opportunity to succeed. Tutorial activities in particular are designed to foster group work that involves collaborative problem solving, discussions, and learning to critique and receive feedback from others.

Students are expected to use social media, various online resources such as the UTS library and Canvas to access materials, such as prescribed readings, videos, guides, and research materials to prepare for class assignments and individual work. Besides providing background knowledge to the workshop sessions, some of these materials will be used as class quizzes and group discussion topics and critiques during the workshops. Accessing and reading prescribed texts, as well as completing the required set tasks before class will enable students to engage more deeply and successfully in the collaborative activities of the workshop and their weekly tutorial tasks. This subject values learning-through-doing. Students will be expected to collaborate with others during and outside of class on group assignments to solve a real-life problem through working together on a range of design activities.

Interaction Design is all around us in everyday life, but many of us are not aware of it. Therefore, this subject highlights real-world examples of interactive systems that exist currently or have been used in the past. These examples are presented in the lectures as well as forming part of the assignments and tutorial activities, for example, students will be required to look up and describe existing real-world examples for their journal assignments, while describing them using the theory and models provided to them in the lectures and repeated in the tutorials. These real-world examples not only help in demonstrating the application of Interaction Design knowledge in everyday life, but also indicate to students what a professional interaction designer's job could entail.

Content (topics)

1. What is Interaction Design and Human-Computer Interaction (HCI)

  • Differences between the two and some history of the fields and recent developments

2. Design principles, concepts and theories of Interaction Design and HCI

3. Human-Centred design process and Design Thinking

  • Designing technologies for people (and use)
  • Design in context and understanding users
  • Representing users in the design process
  • Understanding input, output and interactions styles
  • Designing interactions
  • Prototyping

4. Basic usability evaluation methods

  • Heuristic evaluation
  • Simple usability testing


Assessment task 1: Journal Assignment


To develop students’ sensitivities and perceptions about how people use technology in their everyday activities and the ability to articulate various issues around the design and use of technology from the perspective of its usability and usefulness.


This assessment task addresses the following subject learning objectives (SLOs):

1 and 3

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs):

C.1 and D.1

Type: Journal
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 20%

Entries #1, #2, and #3 is a single page journal entry. Entries #1. #2, and #3 will be discussed and assessed during tutorials in weeks 2 and 4. This will provide students with formative feedback so that students can complete a good journal entry #4. Entry 4 will be between 3-4 pages. Entry 4 will be assessed by the tutor.

Assessment task 2: Examination (real world technology evaluation)


To evaluate students’ understandings of design principles and usability principles through their ability to apply them in the critique and evaluation of technology during use in a live setting.


This assessment task addresses the following subject learning objectives (SLOs):

1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs):

C.1 and D.1

Type: Examination
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 35%

Assessment task 3: Design Project


To provide students with opportunities to practice a Human-Centred Design methodology to solve a real-world problem. To do this, they will undertake a range of activities that include literature research, user research, design and evaluation activities including theory, exploratory and experimental studies, prototyping, user research and evaluation.


This assessment task addresses the following subject learning objectives (SLOs):

2, 3, 4 and 6

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs):

C.1 and D.1

Type: Project
Groupwork: Group, group and individually assessed
Weight: 45%

Minimum requirements

In order to pass the subject, a student must achieve an overall mark of 50% or more.

Required texts

Interaction Design: Beyond Human-Computer Interaction, Rogers, Y., Preece, J. & Sharp, H., 4th edition, John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 2015.

Recommended texts

  1. Norman, D. (2013) The Design of Everyday Things (revised and expanded edition). MIT Press
  2. Nielsen, J (1999), Designing Web Usability. New Riders Publishing
  3. Lowgren, J & Stolterman, E (2007), Thoughtful Interaction Design, MIT Press, USA
  4. Don't Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, Krug, S., New Riders, 2014.


Readings, videos and other digital media related to the weekly topics will be provided to students prior to each class during the semester. In terms of published academic papers, they are available for download via the UTS Library website. Please check the subject page on Canvas for the most current list of readings.

Other resources

Valuable resources on Interaction Design
Google material design
Google Material Design app components
User interface elements