last update: February 28, 2008

DA301: Discrete Interaction Design 1


Prof. Dr. M. Rauterberg, Full Professor
Faculty Industrial Design, Designed Intelligence Group, Technical University Eindhoven
Time and location via email to all subscribed students.


This assignment need 40 hrs work in total, the number of weeks depends on the actual period length (min 4 weeks).

After following this assignment students should be able to:

  • specify the interaction structure of a new and so far unknown interactive product with one established formal specification method (State-Transition-Diagram, Petri-Nets, GOMS, UAN);
  • create a mid-fidelity prototype in PowerPoint (or Flash) based on this specification;
  • conduct a small usability test and translate the results as possible input for a re-design;
  • prepare and give two presentations (mid-term, and final).

Previous Knowledge

  • basic knowledge about PowerPoint (and/or Flash)
  • digital video recording and editing
  • planning and conducting a small usability test (formative evaluation)


The assignment will start with a short introduction to user centred design, and to four different specification formal methods for interaction structures of interactive products (State-Chart, Petri-Net, GOMS, UAN). The students will apply this knowledge on a new design of a not yet existing interactive product for which a usability test can be launched.

The first part of the assignment consists of creating a new interactive product idea, develop the discrete interaction structure for the planned functionality with one of the introduced formal specification method, and present the final specification document/diagram at the mid-term meeting.

The second part of this assignment consists of implementing the specified discrete interaction structure in a mid-fidelity prototype (PowerPoint or Flash), and test the result with several users. Based on the recorded users' reactions/comments, recommendations for a possible re-design have to be drawn. The final prototype and the main results of the user tests are presented in the final meeting.

Students will learn to use a formal specification methods as input for the implementation of a mid-fidelity prototype. They will gain hands-on experience in (1) using a formal specification as input for creating a prototype, and (2) planning and conducting an empirical evaluation. They will experience how to optimise the trade-offs inherent in conducting prototyping and usability testing under 'real-life' constraints.

Literature is provided through this web-page (see below). Additional information throughout the assignment will be provided via the assignment emails distribution list DA301 (make sure that your email address is on this list!).

Assignment work

The feedback for this assignment will be determined by the work done on the set of deliverables (Dx; see below). Each deliverable (Dx) will cover a number of steps relevant for planning, applying and conducting a combination of formal and empirical methods. Furthermore, they will include discussions about the trade-offs of the decisions taken and the validity of the findings of the evaluation. Feedback will be determined based on the rigour with which the work is done, whether relevant concepts discussed in the assignment are embedded in the work and the report, and extra initiative to ensure good quality of work.

Deliverables [Dx] Date due

Description of the idea and purpose of the new interactive product (200-500 words)
[included in the final


A complete specification of the new discrete interaction structure described in a document/diagram (with at least 20 different user actions/ functions and at least 10 different system states)
[included in the final report].

Mid-term presentation in electronic form
      [D1: delivered as PPT file].

Mid-Fidelity Prototype (in case of an updated specification of the interaction structure, this updated document as well with a short description of what and why the changes were made; if you created more than one prototype, each version has to be delivered)
[design description included in the final report].
[D2: executable program file, eg. PPT or FLASH (plus source code)]


Description of the user test (number of  test subjects = 5) including users' profiles, task(s) description, results and recommendations for re-design; each user test has to be documented via video recording including audio records of the users' comments (e.g., via screen capture program Camtasia Studio, etc.)
included in  the final report: (1) description of task(s), (2) user profile, (3) results, and (4) conclusions for possible re-design];
[D3: in addition five video files of user tests including audio of user comments].


Final presentation in electronic form  
[D4: delivered as PPT file]


Final report in electronic form  
[D5: delivered as DOC, RTF or PDF file] according the proposed structure and format (see Report Writing Guide)


D6: a CD (no auto run!) with all deliverables (D1) - (D5) handed in to the assignor's secretariat HG 2.37.

two days after final

Assignment schedule






Introduction in the four different specification methods.

lecture-1 [PDF]



interesting lectures from others:

Bruce Powel Douglass (2004) Finite State Machines.
[part 1] [part 2] [part 3]

all relevant literature to be familiar with

Horrocks, I. (1999), Constructing the user interface with statecharts. Addison-Wesley. [ISBN 0201342782]
Reisig, W. (1992),  A Primer in Petri Net Design. Springer. [ISBN: 0387520449] [tool]
Card S, Moran T, & Newell A (1983), The psychology of human computer interaction, Lawrence Erlbaum (Chapter 5 and 6) [ISBN: 0-89859-859-1] [tool]
Hix, D. & Hartson, H. R., (1993) “Developing user interfaces”, Wiley. (Chapter 6 and 7) [ISBN: 0-471-57813-4] [UAN1, UAN2, UAN3, UAN4]

extra readings:
Harel (1987) Statecharts.
Murata (1989) Petri Nets.
Balbo et al (2000) Petri Nets Tutorial.
John & Kieras (1994) GOMS family.
Kieras (1996) NGOMSL.
Hartson et al (1990) UAN.

mid-term meeting

Presentation of each student team.

Introduction in PowerPoint as a tool for mid-fidelity prototyping.


Examples in PPT: Example-1, Example-2

Example in FLASH: Example-1


Engelberg & Seffah (2002)
Mid-Fidelity Prototyping.

extra readings:
How to do a Usability test!
Usability Testing
Thinking-Aloud Method

Capture the test user interaction with a freeware screen capture program! and include the audio records of the user;
you can download the trial version Camtasia Studio for screen capturing during the usability tests; describe the results in a usability report.

final meeting

Presentation of each individual student.

reservations of the Usability Lab at IPO building and borrowing of video cameras can be done via
Nico van den Ven
tel 040 247 -5229 
or -5200


further information about infrastructure of all IPO labs via
Martin Boschmann

tel 040 247 -5210 or -5200


Assignors Feedback to Student

Students will be working in two person teams till mid-term presentation; for the second part of this assignment till final presentation each student works individually; s/he will be graded based on the quality of the written reports/documents and the presentation given using a 4 point grading scale [“not done”= insufficient, “done”= sufficient, “well done”= above average, “very well done”= very good] and in constructive written feedback via the assignment feedback form.