Towards developing and improving effective interaction design tools
This research began by addressing the question: can effective interface design guidelines be produced for use in the design of future consumer product technologies (CPT)? A literature review explored published studies evaluating existing Human- Computer Interaction guidelines to establish their effectiveness in relation to CPT. Through this review, effectiveness was found to be limited but potentially could be improved using user-centred design methods. In response, six short studies were undertaken to produce user-centred CPT guidelines and to evaluate them using two sets of effectiveness criteria: specificity and applicability. These studies supported findings from the HCI literature. Despite improving the specificity and applicability of the CPT guidelines, passive, non-bespoke design guidelines have still been shown to have little impact on interaction design activity. Other links between research and practice needed to be identified. Two further field investigations indicated that, whilst the use of ergonomics methods was limited in commercial design consultancies, certain types of participative methods considering 'situated design in context' might be helpful. A second literature review was conducted to explore the importance of context-based design activity. As an outcome, design tools were proposed using participative design techniques involving games and role playing. Through a second series of five laboratory and field studies, the proposed design tools were developed and iteratively evaluated. It was demonstrated that the design tools could affect interaction design activity, but further work is still required on improving one of the applicability criteria - 'organisational survival'. These findings demonstrated that interaction designers can effectively produce their own design data using the design tools provided that this design activity is situated within the context of an interaction design problem. It has also been shown that if interaction design tools are to be effective they should satisfy all specificity and applicability criteria established in this inquiry.