2021-DOIS-Design Of Interactive Systems


Wendy E. Mackay, Inria & Université Paris-Saclay
Janin Koch, Inria & Université Paris-Saclay

M1, M2, PhD

Introduction to the Design of Interactive Systems teaches quick and effective user-centred design methods, emphasising situated interaction, rapid design and redesign.


The Design of Interactive Systems course is about design methods—how to quickly design and redesign an effective interactive system. Students will investigate a design problem from the user's perspective and produce a scenario-based video prototype of a new system based on their users' needs. Students will then redesign their system to address breakdowns and accommodate new situations and present it to the rest of the class. The course includes a series of individual and group exercises that build upon each other — all are required to successfully complete the final project. Class attendance and participation is essential!

Warning: This course is designed to go fast!

The techniques in this course were created and refined in both industry and research settings and will be useful not only in other classes and for your Masters internship, but in your future career, whether you become an interaction designer, entrepreneur, or researcher. This course provides an overview of the overall design process, but also challenges many assumptions about UX design in industry. Students have applied these methods to create successful startups, to design both commercial and open-source applications, and as a foundation for HCI research.

If you complete the course successfully, you will able to observe users and design from their perspective, focusing on the interaction not just the interface. You will learn to work quickly, iterating rapidly between sketching interaction and assessing the results. You will also learn to work effectively in groups, and avoid analysis paralysis when group members disagree.

Course structure:

This is a project-oriented class that combines lectures and in-class activities over the Tuesday and Wednesday sessions. The course also includes specific homework exercises as well as work on the final project.

You will work in groups, ideally with four participants, on individual, paired and group exercises. You will have five weeks to create the first story-based video prototype and and two weeks to completely redesign and improve it, and then present it to the class. This website contains all the assignments and space for uploading your work, as well as links to tools that will enable you to conduct collaborative video-based assignments.

Unless the CoVid conditions change, this course will be conducted in person. Attendance is required: If you have a good reason for not attending, let your other team members and Janin Koch (janin.koch@inria.fr) know in advance. We will take attendance at every class.


Most grades are based on group activities, but individual grades also count for certain assignments, as does class participation.

Participation and exercises: 40%
Video prototype #1: 10%
Video prototype #2: 10%
Final presentation & poster: 40%

Design brief: Design a novel, interactive tool for an existing creative application

Your group will design a novel, interactive tool to enhance an existing application for creating novel digital artefacts, such as Illustrations, photographs, videos, or music. Examples include: Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premier, Unity, Final Cut Pro, TinkerCAD, Rhino, Blender, Ableton or Open Music. Choose an application that you do not use yourselves. Next, find people who use the application for a creative purpose and gather information about their experiences. Capture specific, detailed stories of how they currently interact with the system and and how they handle breakdowns. Next, choose a set of commands that are currently handled through menus, and then use the principles of instrumental interaction to design a novel, interactive tool that lets the user perform those actions in a simpler, yet more powerful way. Create personas and construct a scenario based on a composite of the people you interviewed. Seek inspiration and brainstorm ideas about the new tool, and ensure that it addresses breakdowns you found. Design the tool using paper mockups, and then retell the story as a future scenario that illustrates how the personas will use the tool, first with a storyboard, then with a video prototype. Analyze your design and get feedback from other groups, then redesign it and create a new video prototype. At the end of the class, your group will present a poster with the key design resources you created during the process, and give a 10-minute talk followed by 5 minutes of questions, to the rest of the class and an external jury.

Final presentation:

Each group will have 10 minutes to present their project, including a summary of their design process and the video prototype that illustrates their design. An external jury and other class members will then have 5 minutes to ask questions. Note that this is not a concept video with a marketing pitch. Rather, it is a early-phase design artefact designed to communicate the current state of the design, in a story-based format, to other designers and users.


Class meets every Tuesday afternoon from 14:00 to 17:00 (2pm - 5pm) and every Wednesday morning from 9:30 to 12:30. Time change: The master schedule lists 9:00 on Wednesdays, but we will start at 9:30.

Attendance is required for both sessions, since you will need time to accomplish all the assignments. Be sure to let Janin Koch (janin.koch@inria.fr) and your team mates know if you will be late or cannot attend a session.


All classes will be held in room B108 in the PUIO building (see map), except for Tuesday, November 9, when we will move to C205. The final presentations will also be held in room B108.

Detailed Schedule

• Download the detailed schedule

Week 1
Tuesday, 02 November • 14:00 - 17:00 • room B108
• Lectures: Course Overview, Discovering Users, Collecting user insights
• Methods covered: Peer introspection, Breakdown analysis, Story interviews

Wednesday, 03 November • 9:30 - 12:30 • room B108
• Lecture: Analyzing users, Creating user-based design resources
• Methods covered: Questionnaires, Peer interviews, Object table

Week 2
Tuesday, 09 November • 14:00 - 17:00 • room C205
• Methods covered: Interaction snippets, Personas & Extreme characters, Current scenario

Wednesday, 10 November • 9:30 - 12:30 • room B108
• Methods covered: Standard brainstorming, Design dimensions

Week 3
Tuesday, 16 November • 14:00 - 17:00 • room B108
• Methods covered: Video brainstorming, Design space

Wednesday, 17 November • 9:30 - 12:30 • room B108
• Methods covered: Concept, Alternatives, Interaction table, Design diagram

Week 4
Tuesday, 23 November • 14:00 - 17:00 • room B108
• Methods covered: Future scenario, Storyboard

Wednesday, 24 November • 9:30 - 12:30 • room B108
• Methods covered: Mockups, Video prototype

Week 5
Tuesday, 30 November • 14:00 - 17:00 • room B108
• Methods covered: Experiment design, Design Walkthrough

Wednesday, 1 December • 9:30 - 12:30 • room B108
• Methods covered: User profile, Revised concept

Week 6
Tuesday, 7 December • 14:00 - 17:00 • room B108
• Methods covered: Revised video prototype

Wednesday, 8 December • 9:30 - 12:30 • room B108
• Methods covered: Generative walkthrough

Week 7
Tuesday, 14 December • 14:00 - 17:00 • room B108
• Methods covered: Final poster

Wednesday, 15 December • 9:30 - 12:30 • room B108
• Methods covered: Final presentation


Workspace & group reports