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.

HCI as Fashion

Recent research shows that fashion already exists in the HCI domain and influences and affects design and designers’ thinking and practices throughout the design process. In this study, we draw our insights from fashion related research within HCI and interaction design, provide some observations about fashion-related design and research practices, raise questions about our field as moving forward towards fashion driven discipline.


Pan, Yue, & Erik Stolterman. (2015). “What if HCI Becomes a Fashion Driven Discipline?.” Proceedings of the 33rd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. ACM, 2015.

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.

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.

Evolution of Design Competence in UX Practice

There has been increasing interest in the adoption of UX within corporate environments, and what competencies translate into effective UX design. This paper addresses the
space between pedagogy and UX practice through the lens of competence, with the goal of understanding how students are initiated into the practice community, how their perception of competence shifts over time, and what factors influence this shift. A 12-week longitudinal data collection, including surveys and interviews, documents this shift, with participants beginning internships and full-time positions in UX. Students and early professionals were asked to assess their level of competence and factors that influenced competence. A co-construction of identity between the designer and their environment is proposed, with a variety of factors relating to tool and representational knowledge, complexity, and corporate culture influencing perceptions of competence in UX over time. Opportunities for future research, particularly in building an understanding of competency in UX based on this preliminary framing of early UX practice are addressed.


Gray, C. M. (2014). Evolution of Design Competence in UX Practice. In Proc. of Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. ACM Press: New York, NY.

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.