Chris McLay.

Interaction designer and user experience consultant.

Approaching interaction design, or designing a better way to record personal time use.

by Christopher Andrew McLay


This thesis explores the role of designers in the field of human-computer interaction as well as the emerging field of interaction design. More traditional approaches to human-computer interaction such as usability, human-centred, ergonomic and cognitive theories are contrasted to more recent approaches involving phenomenology, semiotics, design theory and holistic design. This is further explored through the design of a digital artefact, the Time Notepad, for the recording of personal time use.

The results of this research suggest that design needs to be better understood within both industry and research environments. Further, design processes need to be fully integrated into the development of interactive artefacts and into the domain of human-computer interaction. Designers themselves need to be more engaged with their own methodologies, as well as the contexts and experiences of those using the artefacts they are designing. Phenomenology, embodied interaction and semiotics are areas of exploration that may aid designers in their efforts to create successful interactive artefacts.

Download a PDF version…

Chris McLay, Approaching Interaction Design (6.6 MB PDF)

Or read it online…


Chapter One. Approaching interaction design

Chapter Two. Designing a better way to record personal time use



Appendix A. Letter to Participants

Appendix B. Interview Worksheets

Appendix C. Design Documentation

Appendix D. User Personas

Appendix E. User Experiences

Appendix F. Design Sketches

Appendix G. Screens from Prototype

Appendix H. Getting Started Guide

Works Cited


I would like to thank the following people for their time and support with this research and in helping me to bring this thesis together…

  • My supervisor and Multimedia Programme Chair, Ingrid Richardson, who has provided endless support and guidance during my return to academic study.
  • Alec McHoul, Head of School, Media Communication & Culture, for his sound advice and unique perspectives.
  • The nameless, yet invaluable, organisations and individuals who freely gave me their time and thoughts during the research for the Time Notepad.
  • My wonderful wife and son, Jacquie and Gene, who have given up far too much to allow me the time to do this research.
  • Geoff for his many thoughts, abstractions and ideas, and for taking the time to proof read this thesis, but mainly for listening to my rants and putting up with me.
  • Claire for helping to keep my other projects going, and for enduring my less than perfect direction and work practices during this time.
  • Klazina for her exacting advice and pedagogical review of this thesis.
  • Neil and everyone at Abbott & Co. for printing this thesis.
  • My clients who have gone without, or had deadlines slip, while I was otherwise engaged.
  • My friends, family and colleagues who have seen so little of me for the last year or so.

Copyright Licence

© Copyright 2006 Christopher Andrew McLay

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 Australia License. To view a copy of this license, visit or send a letter to Creative Commons, 543 Howard Street, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.

You are free:

  • to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work
  • to make derivative works

Under the following conditions:

  • Attribution – You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor.
  • Noncommercial – You may not use this work for commercial purposes.
  • Share Alike – If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one.

For any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the license terms of this work.

Any of these conditions can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder.

Your fair use and other rights are in no way affected by the above.

Company and product names mentioned herein are trademarks of their respective companies.