HCI Prototypes and Knowledge Contribution

In HCI/interaction design research, much of our work is prototype-driven. We explore new concepts through the design of new interactive systems. Still, as a field of research we lack documented methods for examining the relation between design ideas and design manifestations although this ability to examine if a design (idea) is new and novel contribution to our field of research is crucial. This paper contributes to this need by proposing ‘generic design thinking’ as a first step towards a method to move from ideas and designs to classes of conceptualized designs. In short, a method for examining designs as knowledge contributions in HCI/interaction design research. We argue for this suggested method through two examples including 1) how one such method can be used to analyze and conceptualize existing designs, and 2) how one such method can be useful for working with new concepts, and the generation of new knowledge through design. We conclude with a discussion on how our initial sketch of one such method can facilitate systematic knowledge development in HCI design research.


Wiberg, M. & Stolterman, E. (2014). What Makes a Prototype Novel? – A Knowledge Contribution Concern for Interaction Design Research. In Proceedings of NordiCHI, 2014.

Method to Unfold the Connotation and Denotation in User Interfaces

This study introduces an approach for evaluating user interfaces built on visual rhetoric and the rhetorical notion of function. A personal informatics mobile application has been selected to exemplify the application of this approach. Through the results of this example evaluation, this paper discusses the consequence of applying a rhetorical evaluation to a user interface. In this discussion, it is observed that inspecting the function performed by interface components takes into account experiences, communication, and meaning. In addition, it fosters reflection and criticism


Sosa-Tzec, O. & Siegel, M. A. (2014). Rhetorical Evaluation of User Interfaces. In Proceedings of NordiCHI, 2014. ACM Press.

Use of Rhetoric for HCI/UX Pedagogy and Analysis

In this paper, we introduce a first pass of a rhetorical handbook intended for UI/UX designers. This handbook is based on an earlier version for graphic designers, introduced by Ehses & Lupton in 1988, in which diverse rhetorical concepts are illustrated through graphic work. For the UI/UX version, we examined desktop, web and mobile interfaces in order to illustrate the same concepts. In this first pass, we observe that the three modes of appeal (i.e., pathos, ethos and logos) fluctuate throughout the user experience. Additionally, we learned that rhetorical operations aid describing the adjustments made on an interface to work in different platforms. Further, the rhetorical figures (tropes and schemes) help to describe conceptually the interface’s composition and interactions. The concepts presented in the handbook provide a framework to examine and critique user interfaces, through which the disciplines of user experience and rhetoric connect.


Sosa-Tzec, O., Siegel, M.A., & Brown, P. (2015). Exploration of Rhetorical Appeals, Operations and Figures in UI/UX Design. In Proc. LearnxDesign 2015, The 3d International Conference for Design Education Researchers. USA: DRS//Cumulus//Design-Ed.

Software as Persuasive Visual Argument

By examining application software as a type of rhetorical artifact, it is possible to highlight its social, ethical and moral implications. In this paper, we explore one possibility for such a lens: application software functioning as a visual enthymeme. To explore the applicability of that concept in HCI, we analyze one web application as a first step. In our analysis, we observe that interaction and usability are two features that support an application in functioning as a visual enthymeme. Also, online sharing could help the user take the role of the arguer. Our analysis allows us to outline the elements of a user-centric persuasive experience and shows promise for further explorations regarding the applicability of rhetoric in HCI.


Sosa-Tzec, O., Stolterman, E., & Siegel, M.A. (2015). Gaza Everywhere: exploring the applicability of a rhetorical lens in HCI. In Proc. of Critical Alternatives 2015, the 5th Decennial Aarhus Conference. Denmark: ACM.

UX, Security, and Complex Systems

Securing Information and Communication Systems (ICSs) is a highly complex process due in large part to the feedback relationship that holds between the users and the system and its ‘ecosystem’ of usage. Such a relationship is critical for experience designers. The design of secure systems can thereby be enhanced by using principles from disciplines where similar relations hold, such as security engineering and adaptive systems. In this work, we propose a user experience design framework based on six principles and use a social networking system as an example of its application. The proposed design principles are grounded in complex systems theory. We address several potential security and privacy challenges inherent in the design of a large-scale adaptive system. By means of this framework, we reflect upon the participation of an experience designer regarding the conceptualization, selection, review, and update of security and privacy matters. In this sense, we observe the role of the designer as a translator across disciplines. By introducing our framework, we also attempt to start a conversation about the challenges a designer faces in the appropriation of this role, either for the case of securing large-scale systems or in those situations where the boundaries of design and knowledge from other disciplines already overlap.


Nematzadeh, A. & Sosa-Tzec, O. (2014). Experience Design Framework for securing Large Scale Information and Communication Systems. Proc. of the DRS 2014. Design Research Society: Umeå, Sweden.

Storytelling in HCI and UX

As designers, we tell stories as we engage in the design process. But how does one story differ from another? Are there storytelling types used during different parts of the process? What form and function do these stories take? In this paper we explore the nature of storytelling in the context of design and how it plays different roles throughout the process: (1) during research to explain user stories; (2) during ideation to expand the design space and explore problems; (3) as a prototyping tool; and so on. We also will describe inappropriate uses of storytelling in the design process; for example, telling pristine and unreal stories rather than keeping the story roughly right.


Hunsucker, A.J., & Siegel, M.A. (2015). Once Upon a Time: Storytelling in the Design Process. In Proc. LearnxDesign 2015, The 3d International Conference for Design Education Researchers. USA: DRS//Cumulus//Design-Ed.

Temporal Anchors in User Experiences

As HCI becomes more aware of long-term use experience, users’ retrospection might be one starting point to explore prior interactive use. However, due to the limitation of current methodologies and human memory, research participants might recall specific prior use episodes and less their experience over time. In this note, we examine how to encourage retrospection and reflection concerning the changes of use experience in the past and over time. We have reviewed relevant research and traced the usage of temporal references in those studies, such as diagrams of use measurement over time or the history of interactive products. We propose the notion of temporal anchors as way of capturing and grounding temporal aspects of long term use experience. We have found that methods that include temporal anchors have facilitated opportunities for rich reflections and communications around use experience and temporality.


Temporal Anchors in User Experience Research, Proceedings of Design Interactive Systems. ACM: Vancouver, Canada.

Locating the Emerging Design Identity of Students Through Visual and Textual Reflection

Reflective activities have the potential to encourage students to develop critical skills and awareness of mental models. In this study, I address the emerging identity of early design students as they externalize their evolving conceptions of design through visual and textual reflection. Forty-three students in an introductory human-computer interaction (HCI) course completed weekly textual reflections on a course blog, and completed visual reflections at the conclusion of each of three projects. The weekly blog reflections were intended to document their experience as a developing designer, while the visual reflections represented their personal conception of design within HCI-their rendering of the “whole game”. Through this process of reflection, students externalized their transformation as designers, including an awareness of the pedagogical, social, and cultural factors shaping them, and a growing sense of their personal and professional design identity. Through interviews and additional analysis of eight of these students, a disjuncture was found between conceptions of design in visual and textual reflections, with visual reflections forming a professional, generic design identity, and textual reflections more congruent with the student’s personal identity. Issues relating to lack of representational skill and how these forms of reflection externalize a student’s evolving design philosophy are addressed.


Gray, C. M. (2014). Locating the Emerging Design Identity of Students Through Visual and Textual Reflection. In Proceedings ofDRS 2014. Design Research Society: Umeå, Sweden.

Reprioritizing the Relationship Between HCI Research and Practice: Bubble-Up and Trickle-Down Effects.

There has been an ongoing conversation about the role and relationship of theory and practice in the HCI community. This paper explores this relationship privileging a practice
perspective through a tentative model, which describes a “bubble-up” of ideas from practice to inform research and theory development, and an accompanying “trickle-down”
of theory into practice. Interviews were conducted with interaction designers, which included a description of their use of design methods in practice, and their knowledge and
use of two common design methods—affinity diagramming and the concept of affordance. Based on these interviews, potential relationships between theory and practice are explored through this model. Disseminating agents already common in HCI practice are addressed as possible mechanisms for the research community to understand practice more completely. Opportunities for future research, based on the use of the tentative model in a generative way, are considered.


Gray, C. M., Stolterman, E., & Siegel, M. A. (2014). Reprioritizing the Relationship Between HCI Research and Practice: Bubble-Up and Trickle-Down Effects. In Proc. of Designing Interactive Systems. New York, NY: ACM Press.

Sketching Design Thinking: Representations of Design in Education and Practice. Design and Technology Education

Research on design pedagogy has shown that students progress through a variety of barriers on the path to becoming a successful design practitioner, and that frameworks for explicit reflection can be beneficial to the development of design students. Schön uses the concept of reflection-on- action to describe one form of reflection on design practice, with the eventual goal of improving design processes and judgment. In this study, sketching is
used as a form of reflection-on-action in a first semester intensive course in interaction design (IxD). This sketch reflects the student’s current understanding of the “whole
game” or holistic view of design in IxD. Current practitioners in IxD companies were asked to draw the “whole game” sketch as well. Parallels among the sketches
and areas of divergence are discussed. In summary, students shifted from abstract, linear representations of process early in the semester to more concrete, iterative
representations by the end of their first semester. Practitioner sketches were more abstract and linear, but also included representations of business terminology and
design teams. We propose a preliminary model of change in expertise, which documents the shift in a designer’s visual representation of their process as their expertise
increases over time. Implications for changes in design pedagogy and avenues for future research are discussed.


Gray, C. M. & Siegel, M. A. (2014). Sketching Design Thinking: Representations of Design in Education and Practice. Design and Technology Education, 19(1), 48-61.