University of Technology Sydney

89303 Client and User-centred Designing

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 2024 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Design, Architecture and Building: Design
Credit points: 6 cp

Subject level:


Result type: Grade and marks


Expert designing involves understanding the situation into which the design will intervene. To reach these understandings, designers must be as creative in their research as in their idea generation and realisation. This subject introduces designers to the methods and strategies being used by the leading design innovation companies around the world to access the activities, values, needs and feelings of those they design for. The subject covers obtrusive and unobtrusive research, and direct and technologically-mediated interviewing. Each technique students learn about is immediately tested in live fieldwork and then translated into clear design briefs.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

On successful completion of this subject, students should be able to:

1. 1. The nature of client-user-designer relations and the barriers to direct communication
2. 2. The ethics of ethnographic research
3. 3. The need for methodological rigour in commercial research for quality assurance
4. 4. Use a range of interview techniques with disparate clients and users
5. 5. Use a range of unobtrusive observational techniques with disparate clients and users
6. 6. Use a range of obtrusive experimentation techniques with disparate clients and users
7. Translate research findings into clear design briefs

Teaching and learning strategies

Seminars, workshops, and guest lectures.

Students are expected to attend weekly lectures followed by tutorial workshops that extend the knowledge introduced in the lecture and from weekly readings. A reflective journal, together with written and visual outcomes, are strategies used to examine the learning.

Content (topics)

This subject addresses some or all of the following issues and topics:

  • Semiotics
  • Cross-cultural hermeneutics
  • History of design visualisations
  • Argumentation and rhetoric
  • Innovative presentation techniques, new media
  • Design presentation best-practice
  • Design criticism


Assessment task 1: Problem Context Report

Weight: 40%

Assessment task 2: Experience Analysis Report

Weight: 30%

Assessment task 3: Research Poster

Weight: 30%