Conceptual Design and Prototyping to Explore Creativity

Part of the IFIP – International Federation for Information Processing book series (IFIPAICT, volume 289)

Many approaches to teaching HCI focus on either user requirements or prototyping. However, these two techniques do not provide enough tools for students to explore the design space in breadth at early stages of conception. Indeed, even when these two approaches are combined, students still lack tools to explore the design space and bridge the gap from requirements to prototyping. In this paper, we describe the way we teach Human Computer Interaction, stimulating students to be creative during interface design. To that end we added course materials on conceptual design and scenario based interaction, combined with the exploration of different low fidelity prototypes, which we believe increase both the usability of student-developed prototypes and foster learner creativity. To illustrate this we present some of the best examples of interactive prototypes designed and developed by students attending our HCI course in the context of Information Systems and Computer Engineering (ISCE) curriculum at the Technical University of Lisbon, Portugal. While the current approach seems to elicit positive responses and draw encouraging remarks from students, work remains to be done in emerging interface paradigms and more formal evaluation on how this approach positively affects student outcomes.


Conceptual Model Design Space Conceptual Design Task Analysis User Requirement 


  1. 1.
    A. Dix, J. Finlay, G. D. Abowd and R. Beale, Human-Computer Interaction, 3rd ed. Prentice Hall, 2004.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    D. K. van Duyne, J. A. Landay and J. I. Hong, The Design of Sites, Addison-Wesley, Boston, MA, 2002.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    J. Preece, I. Rogers and H. Sharp, Interaction Design: beyond human-computer interaction, John Wiley & Sons, 2002Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    C. Lewis and J. Rieman, Task-Centered User Interface Design: A Practical Introduction, downloaded from, 1994
  5. 5.
    J. Johnson and A. Henderson, Conceptual Models: Begin by Designing What to Design, Interactions, Vol. 9 (1), pp. 25–32, ACM Press, January 2002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    M. Rettig, Prototyping for Tiny Fingers, Communications of the ACM, Vol. 37 (4), pp.21– 27, ACM Press, April 1994.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    A. Marcus and E. Chan, Designing the PDA of the Future, Interactions, Vol. 9 (1), pp. 34– 44, ACM Press, January 2002.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    J. Nielsen, Guerrilla HCI: Using Discount Usability Engineering to Penetrate the Intimidation Barrier, Academic Press, 1994.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    M. B. Rosson and J. M. Carroll, Usability engineering: Scenario-Based Development of Human-Computer Interaction, San Francisco, Morgan-Kaufmann 2002.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    J. Nielsen, Original Top Ten Mistakes in Web Design, Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox, May 1996. (cited 2007-10-20),
  11. 11.
    J. Nielsen, Top Ten Mistakes in Web Design, Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox, February 2007. (cited 2007-10-20),
  12. 12.
    J. Nielsen and R. Molich. Heuristic evaluation of user interfaces. Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI'90), pp. 249–256. ACM Press, 1990.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Instituto Superior TécnicoTechnical University of LisboaLisboaPortugal

Personalised recommendations