Designing Interactive Systems


  • 27.10.11: The first assignment is available on L2P
  • 26.10.11: The registration for Aachen is finalized. You should have L2P access now. If you haven't, email Chat ASAP.
  • 12.10.11: The first lecture slides are available below. L2P system will be used from the second week after we finalize the registration.
  • 08.08.11: Please bring a signed copy of the Declaration of Compliance to the first lecture or lab session.
  • 08.08.11: Lecture slides, exercises and other downloadable material will be available in the L²P learning rooms: (Aachen) (Bonn)
  • 08.08.11: How to register for this course as a student from BIT: Follow the BIT Registration Guide


Field of study:
  • Informatik (D)/Hauptstudium/Praktische Informatik
  • Media Informatics (M.Sc.)/Multimedia-Benutzung und -Wirkung/in Aachen
  • Software Systems Engineering (M.Sc.)/Areas of Specialization/Media Computing and Interactive Systems
Number SWS: V3 + Ü2
ECTS Credits: 6
This lecture will be held in English. All assignment submissions and exams must be written in English.


This class introduces students to the field of human-computer interaction (HCI) and user interface design. Topics covered include:
  • fundamental characteristics of human cognition, such as reaction time, rules of perception, and memory performance,
  • models of interaction between people and their environment, such as affordances, mappings, and constraints,
  • a brief history of interactive technologies,
  • iterative design, user interface prototyping techniques,
  • user studies and evaluation methods.

The class will be accompanied by a lab in which students conduct experiments and design a series of user interface prototypes to apply the concepts learned. The last half of the lab will be used for a larger coherent project.

After the class, students will know how user interfaces have developed over the past decades, and what constants of human performance need to be considered when designing user interfaces. They will be able to apply a series of prototyping and evaluation methods to design usable, appropriate user interfaces in a user-centered fashion.


Student assistant:


Mon 13:15h - 14:45hRoom 5053.2lab (starting 24.10.11)
Wed 09:30h - 12:00hRoom 5053.2lecture (starting 12.10.11)

Room 5053.2 is opposite to AH VI on ground floor of E2 building

Tue 14:00h - 16:30hMain Lecture Hall, B-IT Center Bonnlecture
Thu 15:15h - 16:45hMain lecture Hall, B-IT Center Bonnlab

NOTE: Since we give all 3 SWS at once we added 15 minutes pause to the lecture time slots.


Please, register for this course within October 24, 18:00. The registration result will be announced on October 25, 18:00. We give priority to those who need DIS1 as compulsory course and master students.


If you wish to take the course for credit, you must complete all assignments, lab exercises and exams. You will pass (and receive a certificate) upon successful completion of the course with a grade. The grade will be calculated as follows:
    • 40% - lab exercises, assignments, project
    • 25% - exam part 1
    • 35% - exam part 2
Note that you must achieve a cumulative score above 50% and at least 50% of the points in the exam part 2 to pass the course. If you fail, you have to take entire exam (both parts) again.

Midterm Tue 29 November, 2011 16:30h – 18:00hAula 2 and 2010
Final Tue 7 February, 2012 14:00 – 16:30 AH III and 2010

Midterm Tue 29 November, 2011 16:00h – 17:30hMain Lecture Hall, B-IT Center Bonn
Final Tue 7 February, 2012 14:00 – 16:30 Main Lecture Hall, B-IT Center Bonn

Second chance (both parts): Tuesday 21 February, 2012. 11:00 – 13:30, Room 2010, Informatikzentrum, RWTH Aachen

Final Exam Review Dates:

In Aachen the review is on Wednesday, 15.02.2012 from 13:00 till 15:30 in room 2350 (AH III).
In Bonn the review is on Thursday, 16.02.2012 from 15:15 till 16:45 in Rheinsaal at the B-IT.
You can come and take a look at your work.

Missing the exam
See: Exam decision tree
  • If you cannot attend the exam with valid reasons (medical reason, exam schedule conflicts), you need to inform us before the exam, and submit a scanned copy of the evidence (medical certificate, course registration, boarding passes) within 5 days after the exam.
    • If the reason for missing the exam is valid, you will do your first try of the exam for the parts that you missed on the same date as the second chance exam.
    • If the reason is not valid, you will not get any score from that exam. If your overall score passed the course, you will not have a chance to take the exam again.
  • If you fail the course in the overall score, you will have to take both parts of the exam in the second chance.


You need an average grade of assignments above 4.0 to attend each exam. The same rule applies for the project grade and final exam.

For assignments that are handed in after the due date we will deduct one grading step per 24 hours. Assignments that are handed in after they have been discussed in the lab session will not be graded and automatically receive a 5.0 grade.

During the semester, each student must participate in at least one user test held at our chair or in the Psychology chair. This allows students to better appreciate average users, gain empathy with the test users, practice skill in test facilitator [Neilsen ’11]. We will announce available user tests throughout the semester.

Code of Conduct

At the media computing group we have no tolerance for cheating and plagiarism. In short, this means that choosing to hand in any exam, assignment, or seminar paper that violates the terms of the Declaration of Compliance results in failing the course and may result in further consequences (Bachelor- / Masterordnung: §10 (4), DPO97: §8 (4)).


It is highly recommended to buy the book of Norman since you have to read it for class. From the Dix et. al. and Schneiderman books you just have to read some chapters. You can find these books in the library.

Lecture video

Video recordings of each lecture will be available on iTunes U for reviewing. A link to iTunes U as well as a link to the RSS feed will be given in L2P. We try to publish the videos within a week after each lecture, but videos are not alternatives to attending the class. Should class attendance fall lower than 50% of the first day of the class, we will stop publishing videos until the class attendance is higher than 50%.

Course resources

Lecture and lab slides & videos

DateTheory TopicsPractice TopicsSlides
12.10.11S01 Intro, Visibility, AffordancesIdea logs, Sketching1up, 4-up, video
24.10.11L01 Admin, Affordances 1up, 4up
26.10.11S02 Mapping, Constraints, Conceptual modelsUser observation1up, 4up, video
31.10.11L02 Hands-on Photographic Observation 1up, 4up
02.11.11S03 Seven Stages of Action, Knowledges, Feedback DIA, Persona, Storyboard1up, 4up, video
07.11.11 L03 Prototypes and Interview 1up, 4up
09.11.11 S04 Errors, Forcing Functions Prototypes 1up, 4up, video
14.11.11 L04 Video prototyping, A01 Pitfalls 1up, 4up
16.11.11 S05 Gestalt laws Prototyping tools, Ideation1up, 4up, video
21.11.11 L05 Exam Preparation Ideation and Brainstorming 1up, 4up
23.11.11 S06 Nine Golden Rules, Responsiveness 1up, 4up, video
28.11.11 Exam preparation and Concept Clarification
30.11.11 S07: Objectified screening + discussion 1up, 4up, video
05.12.11 L07: Persuasive interface, Project coaching 1 1up, 4up
07.12.11 S08: CMN, Perception, Cognition, Motor, Fitts's law Evaluation without users 1up, 4up, video
12.12.11 L08: Gamification, Project coaching 2
14.12.11 S09: Interface efficiency, KLM, GOMS Evaluation with users (Qualitative) 1up, 4up, video
19.12.11 L08: Midterm exam discussion
21.12.11 S10 Notations Experimental design 1up, 4up, video
09.01.12 L09: Fitts' law, GOMS, notation exercise 1up, 4up
11.01.12 S11: Notations 2 History of HCI Part 1 1up, 4up, video
16.01.12 10: A03, Emotional design, Project coaching 3 1up, 4up
18.01.12 S12: History Part 2 Vision 1up, 4up, video
23.01.12 L11: A06, Presentation tips, Project coaching 4 1up, 4up
25.01.12 S13: Basic statistics and data visualization Basic Statistics and data visualization 1up, 4up, video
30.01.12 L12: Exam preparation 1up, 4up

  • 1-up slides are designed for viewing on a computer. For printing, use 4-up version which saves both paper and ink.
  • The slides are organized according to Aachen schedule.
  • stats4dis: Landing page for statistics lecture


27.10.11Assignment Submission Guideline Guideline
27.10.11A01 Design Critique 03.11.11 A01
03.11.11A02 User Observation 10.11.11 A02
11.11.11A03 Prototyping 18.11.11 A03
16.11.11A04 Project Definition 01.12.11 Project Definition
08.12.11A06 Term Project Project Details
12.01.12A07 Fitts' Law 21.01.12 A07
12.01.12V01 History Video Assignment 21.01.12 V01

Project example

Here is video of “The Inner Voice”, one of many projects from DIS1 WS 2011/12 under the theme: “You make me want to be a better person: an interactive system that persuades users to change their behavior to improve quality of life.”

The Inner Voice Team: Frederic Speicher, Jan Schnitzler, Daniel Kaulen, Sascha Krott, Philipp Wacker, and Juliana Brell

Past Offerings:

Created by spelmezan. Last Modification: Tuesday 28 of February, 2012 18:04:30 by kehrig.

Media Computing Group at RWTH Aachen