Interaction Design: Basic Principles

Module Description

This module will introduce students to foundational principles of interaction design. Through planned learning activities, students will be exposed to basic concepts that characterize all things designed for human interaction. Students will identify and analyze real world examples found in digital and physical products. A common framework will be introduced for students to critically examine designed products through the language of interaction design. This perspective will help students form their own understanding of interaction design that is relevant in a variety of disciplines including communication design, industrial design, architecture studies, digital arts, computer science, engineering and health sciences to name a few.

Module Level: Introductory - requires no prior knowledge.

Complimentary Modules:
Mobile Interface Design

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module students will be able to:

  • investigate and apply the grammar and strategies of interactive design to real world issues and problems;
  • identify and analyse interactive products to expand critical understanding of interaction design;
  • undertake independent creative and technical learning and research;
  • develop and visually communicate design concepts using multiple media formats.
Suggested Learning Activities and Assignments

Everyday Interactions: This assignment is meant for identification and learning from observing and understanding people interacting with everyday objects. Students will photo document and apply design principles as a framework for analysis. These assignments will be indexed in an online repository for student and instructor access.

Sketching Interactions: Students will use the “Everyday Interactions” index and build from problematic interactions observed and recorded. This will challenge thinking and ways to improve options for interactions. By designing new “sketches”, students are able to visualize new avenues for interaction.

Lecture Videos: A series of short videos introducing basic design principles that can be used to critique and understand all things designed for human interaction.

Discussion and Feedback: Students will have the opportunity to question, collaborate and provide feedback through discussion forums and learning journals.

Readings: Topical readings to support application of interaction design theory to real world situations, products and environments.


David Gelb is an Associate Professor in the Department of Design and serves as the eLearning leader for the School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design at York University. David is active in the design education scholarly community, regularly presenting his research on the potential of eLearning, collaborative technologies and participatory learning at national and international design conferences. David’s professional design practice includes information architecture, user-centered research methods and mobile interface design.