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Theoretical Perspectives on User Experience Design


Status Running - no longer open for registrations
School IDA-gemensam (IDA)
Division IXS
Owner Mattias Arvola

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Course plan

Intended Learning Outcomes

On completion of this 7.5 ECTS credits course, the student will be able to:
- identify, describe, and discuss various user experience design phenomena (such as the role of context and situation for different kinds of interactive experiences)
- make a theoretically informed analysis of the relationship between experience, design product, and design process
- orally and in writing critically review and relate to theories in user experience design.

Course Content

The course focuses on theoretical perspectives on the research field of user experience (UX) design, that is, the design of products, services, and systems for the experience of using them. In particular it focuses on pragmatic and phenomenological perspectives. The course covers the following subjects:
- Contextual design
- Experience design
- Pragmatism, UX and cognition
- Phenomenology, UX and cognition
- Post-phenomenology and design

Teaching and Working Methods

The course is based on a series of seven literature seminars, a smaller design work supported by critique sessions, writing of a paper and a presentation seminar.


For a passing grade, participation in five of seven seminars is required. The design work must be completed. A paper that reports the design work in relation to a chosen theoretical perspective on user experience design must also be written.


Two-grade scale, pass/fail.


7.5 ECTS study credits is awarded for this course.

Course Literature

User Experience and Contextual Design (2 seminars):

Hassenzahl, M. (2010). Experience design: Technology for all the right reasons. Synthesis Lectures on Human-Centered Informatics. Morgan Claypool. https://doi.org/10.2200/S00261ED1V01Y201003HCI008

Holtzblatt, K. & Beyer, H. (2014). Contextual design: Evolved. Synthesis Lectures on Human-Centered Informatics. Morgan Claypool. https://doi.org/10.2200/S00597ED1V01Y201409HCI024

Pragmatism (2 seminars):

Dalsgaard, P. (2014). Pragmatism and design thinking. International Journal of Design, 8(1), 143-155. http://ijdesign.org/index.php/IJDesign/article/view/1087

Menary, R. (2016). Pragmatism and the pragmatic turn in cognitive science. In A.K. Engels, K.J. Frisiton, D. Kragic (Eds.), The Pragmatic Turn: Toward Action-Oriented Views in Cognitive Science (pp. 219-236). Cambridge MA: MIT Press. Available from https://philpapers.org/rec/MENPAT-10

Höök, K., Jonsson, M.P, Ståhl, A., & Mercurio, J. (2016). Somaesthetic appreciation design. In Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '16) (pp. 3131–3142). ACM. https://doi.org/10.1145/2858036.2858583

Petersen, M.G., Iversen, O.S., Krogh, P.G., & Ludvigsen, M. (2004). Aesthetic interaction: a pragmatist's aesthetics of interactive systems. In Proceedings of the 5th conference on Designing interactive systems: processes, practices, methods, and techniques (DIS '04) (pp. 269-276). ACM. https://doi.org/10.1145/1013115.1013153

Wright, P., & McCarthy, J. (2010). Experience-centered design: Designers, users, and communities in dialogue. Synthesis Lectures on Human-Centered Informatics. Morgan Claypool. https://doi.org/10.2200/S00229ED1V01Y201003HCI009

Phenomenology and Cognition:

Arvidson, P.S. A lexicon of attention: from cognitive science to phenomenology. Phenom Cogn Sci 2, 99–132 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1024895827774

Clowes, R.W. Immaterial engagement: human agency and the cognitive ecology of the internet. Phenom Cogn Sci 18, 259–279 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11097-018-9560-4

Køster, A., Fernandez, A.V. Investigating modes of being in the world: an introduction to Phenomenologically grounded qualitative research. Phenom Cogn Sci (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11097-020-09723-w

Phenomenology and Design:

Arvola, M. (2014) Interaction and Service Design as Offering Perspectives in a Space of Action, in Lim, Y., Niedderer, K., Redström, J., Stolterman, E. and Valtonen, A. (eds.), Design's Big Debates - DRS International Conference 2014, 16-19 June, Umeå, Sweden. https://dl.designresearchsociety.org/drs-conference-papers/drs2014/researchpapers/3

Arvola, M., & Linder, J. (2018). Know thy users by interpretative phenomenological analysis. Journal of Interaction Science, 6(3). https://doi.org/10.24982/jois.1719018.003

Poulsgaard, K.S. Enactive individuation: technics, temporality and affect in digital design and fabrication. Phenom Cogn Sci 18, 281–298 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11097-017-9539-6

Svanæs, D. (2013). Interaction design for and with the lived body: Some implications of Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology. ACM Trans. Comput.-Hum. Interact., 20(1), Article 8 (March 2013), 30 pages. https://doi.org/10.1145/2442106.2442114

Post-Phenomenology and Design:

Kullman, K. (2016). Prototyping bodies: a post-phenomenology of wearable simulations,
Design Studies, 47, 73-90. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.destud.2016.08.004

Skågeby, J. (2018). "Well-behaved robots rarely make history": Coactive technologies and partner relations. Design and Culture, 10(2), 187–207. https://doi.org/10.1080/17547075.2018.1466567

Verbeek, P.-P. (2006). Materializing morality: Design ethics and technological mediation. Science, Technology and Human Values, 31, 361-380. https://doi.org/10.1177/0162243905285847

Page responsible: Director of Graduate Studies