HCI Design Patterns

Course information:


Field of study:

  • Informatik (D)/Hauptstudium/Praktische Informatik
  • Technik-Kommunikation (M.A.)/2. Hauptfach (Technisches Fach)/Grundlagen der Informatik/Hauptstudium/Spezialisierung Informatik
  • Informatik (M.Sc.)/Angewandte 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: V2 + U1
ECTS Credits: 4
The lecture will be held in English.

Course Aim:

Media Informatics professionals that work on the user interface of interactive products, systems and services need to communicate their design ideas efficiently to team members from a variety of other professions. Moreover, capturing the user interface design lessons learned from a completed project is crucial to avoid repeating costly earlier mistakes. After this class, students will be able to write clear and cross-disciplinary design patterns that each captures the essence of a certain user interface design decision and its tradeoffs. They will be able to combine these patterns into larger structures called pattern languages, and will also be able to utilize existing pattern languages on the market to quickly learn about crucial design guidelines for specific interface markets, such as web sites or mobile devices, for example.


This lecture will cover the current research topic of design patterns in the area of interactive system design and user interface development. We will see how design patterns originated in architecture, were first adopted by software engineering, and then found their way to HCI where they have proven to be an exciting new suitable format to express design guidelines in a semi-formalized and reusable way. Topics include:

  • advantages and challenges of interdisciplinary design
  • Christopher Alexander and patterns in architecture
  • the Gang of Four and patterns in software engineering
  • structure and format of patterns and pattern languages
  • existing HCI design pattern languages
  • using HCI design patterns in the software development process
  • current trends and the future of HCI design patterns

Students will get an opportunity to write their own design patterns, and have them peer-reviewed in writers' workshops, as part of the class.

Activity Confirmation:

Lecture, successful completion of weekly group assignments, graded written midterm and final examinations.

Lecture Materials:

Collaboratively editable web site (Wiki) for the course with lecture slides in PowerPoint/PDF format, sample videos to view online, online discussion forum for students taking the class, and space for students to create their group project web sites online.



Lecture Tue 10:00-11:30 2010
Lab Wed 13:00-13:45 2010



  • Jan Borchers: A Pattern Approach to Interaction Design. Wiley, 2001.


  • Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, Murray Silverstein: A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction. Oxford University Press, 1977.
  • Christopher Alexander: The Timeless Way of Building. Oxford University Press, 1979.
  • Douglas K. Van Duyne, James A. Landay, Jason I. Hong: The Design of Sites, Addison-Wesley, 2003.
  • Ian Graham: A Pattern Language for Web Usability, Addison-Wesley, 2003.


Please note the date of the midterm exam and final exam. In the event that you cannot make it on those dates, it is your responsibility to notify us in advance, or you will receive a grade of zero.

Grading policy

If you wish to take the course for credit, you must complete all assignments, lab exercises and exams. You will receive a schein upon successful completion of the course with a grade. The grade will be calculated as follows:

  • 25% - lab exercises, assignments
  • 25% - midterm exam
  • 50% - final exam

Note that you must achieve a cumulative score above 4.0 and pass the final exam to pass the course.

Assignments and late policy

The assignments are to be completed individually. If you are submitting the solution after the original deadline, you will receive a grade of 5.0. Exceptions will be granted only for valid (i.e., medical) reasons. Assignments will be graded on the following scale:

  • 1.0 - exceptional work that clearly went above and beyond what was given on the exercise
  • 2.0 - exercise was completed satisfactorily as per the assignment specification
  • 3.0 - exercise was completed, but has some problems
  • 4.0 - incomplete exercise
  • 5.0 - little or no effort was put into the exercise

Past lectures:

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