Designing Interactive Systems is aimed squarely at the next generation of interactive
system designers. This book presents a coherent introduction to the practical issues
of creating interactive systems and products from a human-centred perspective. It
develops the principles and methods of human–computer interaction (HCI) and
interaction design (ID) to deal with the demands of twenty-first century computing.
Interactive systems design is concerned with the design of websites, desktop applications,
iPhone apps, ubiquitous computing systems, mobile systems and systems
to support cooperation between people. This book aims to be the core text for university
courses in HCI and interactive systems design from introductory to masters
level and to meet the needs of usability professionals working in industry.
Human–computer interaction established itself as an important area of study in
the early 1980s and by the early 1990s there was a coherent syllabus and several
textbooks. In the early 1990s the ‘World Wide’ Web appeared, opening up website
design as a new area. Information architecture and information design emerged as
important areas of study and new issues of usability became important in the
open and untamed world of the Web. By the late 1990s mobile phones had
become a fashion statement for many people; style was as important as function.
With colour displays and better screens, mobile phones became increasingly programmable.
Interaction designers were needed along with software engineers to
create exciting experiences. Personal digital assistants (PDAs – sometimes called
‘palmtop’ computers), tablet computers and other information appliances made
further new demands on software developers. User interfaces became tangible,
graspable and immediate and software systems had to be engaging as well as functional.
Digital technologies, wireless communications and new sensing devices
provided new media for a new generation of artist–designers.
All this has brought us to where we are today: a dynamic mix of ideas, approaches
and technologies being used by lots of people doing very different things in different
contexts. Designing Interactive Systems aims to focus this emerging discipline by bringing
together the best practice and experience from HCI and ID. We present a
human-centred approach to interaction design. The strength and tradition of HCI has
been in its human-centredness and usability concerns. HCI specialists would critique
designs from this perspective, pointing out where people would have problems in
using a particular design. HCI evolved methods, guidelines, principles and standards
to ensure that systems were easy to use and easy to learn. In the 1980s computers
were primarily still in the hands of software engineers. A generation later they are
pervasive, ubiquitous and in the hands of everyone.