New to Interaction Design? Here are some resources.

DES 304 | School of Design and Creative Technologies at The University of Texas at Austin | Professor Cathryn Ploehn, MDes

Cathryn Ploehn, MDes
DES 304
4 min readSep 28, 2020


Greetings! Welcome to the wonderful world of interaction design. Below you will find a very abridged list of useful works relevant to the field. Please leave a comment if a favorite work of yours is missing.

Other lists of note

I’ve cited many works from the following lists/courses, which are also worth a look:

How to (talk about) feel(ings)

Experience is the foundational layer. Experience happens in the body. The following works give us language to talk about — and thus design for —the felt experience.

Neely, Stephen. “SOMA LITERATE DESIGN Recentering the Interstitiality of Experience.” (2019)

Victor Kaptelinin, “Affordances” entry at The Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction, 2nd Ed.

Scarry, Elaine. The body in pain: The making and unmaking of the world. Oxford University Press, USA, 1987.

Thinking tools

Use these tools to expand how you think about what you make, and how it might impact the world around you.

The everyday

We must learn to talk about everyday life. The most natural, banal, ordinary objects are most profoundly shaped by our values, ethics, histories, and designs.

Claudia Marina (2020): Making and Unmaking the Ephemeral Object: Design, Consumption, and the Importance of Everyday Life in Understanding Design beyond the Studio, Design and Culture, DOI: 10.1080/17547075.2020.1796373

De Certeau, Michel. “The Practice of Everyday Life: Michel de Certeau.” (1984).

Decolonial design

If you’re interested in “ethical” design, these next several categories contain must reads.

Decolonizing Design Editorial Statement

Modernity + Coloniality: A free online summer seminar on coloniality and decoloniality by Ahmed Ansari

Transition design

Irwin, Terry. “The emerging transition design approach.” 2018.

Ontological design

Marisol de la Cadena & Arturo Escobar, Pluriverse: A Proposal for a World of Many Worlds

Willis, Anne-Marie. 2006. “Ontological Designing.” Design Philosophy Papers.

Yuk Hui, Cosmotechnics as Cosmopolitics

Race + Feminism + Technology

Benjamin, Ruha. “Race after technology: Abolitionist tools for the new jim code.” Social Forces (2019).

Costanza-Chock, Sasha. “Design Justice: towards an intersectional feminist framework for design theory and practice.” Proceedings of the Design Research Society (2018).

Queer theory + bodies

Material Re-Configurations of Body Politics Canli, Ece.Universidade do Porto (Portugal), ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2018. 10819649.

What Can a Body Do?: How We Meet the Built World by Sara Hendren

“Be responsible”

Ruined by Design by Mike Monteiro

Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change. Victor Papanek

Speculative design

Woodrow W Winchester, 2018, Afrofuturism, inclusion, and the design imagination

Dunne, Anthony, and Fiona Raby. Speculative everything: design, fiction, and social dreaming. MIT press, 2013.

Everything is Someone — Future fables about people and technology and everything in between, by Joshua Noble and Simone Rebaudengo

Designing “Other” Worlds, course taught by Taught by Ahmed Ansari

Noel Waite, “Learning Design Histories for Design Futures”

Darko Suvin, “ On the Poetics of the Science Fiction Genre”

Spider webs of technology

Keller Easterling, “An Internet of Things”

Vertesi, Janet. “Seamful Spaces: Heterogeneous Infrastructures in Interaction.” Science, Technology, & Human Values, vol. 39, no. 2, Mar. 2014, pp. 264–284, doi:10.1177/0162243913516012.

Weiser, Mark. “The Computer for the 21 st Century.” Scientific american 265.3 (1991): 94–105.

The houses are alive

Alexander, Christopher. A pattern language: towns, buildings, construction. Oxford university press, 1977.

Brand, Stewart. How buildings learn: What happens after they’re built. Penguin, 1995.

Venturi, Robert, et al. Learning from Las Vegas: the forgotten symbolism of architectural form. MIT press, 1977.

“Is that tree watching me?”

Donna Haraway, “Companion Species Manifesto”

Westerlaken, M. (2020). Imagining Multispecies Worlds (PhD dissertation). Malmö universitet, Malmö

Jen Liu, Daragh Byrne, and Laura Devendorf. 2018. Design for Collaborative Survival: An Inquiry into Human-Fungi Relationships. In Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ‘18). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, Paper 40, 1–13. DOI:

Ingold, Tim. “Toward an ecology of materials.” Annual review of anthropology 41 (2012): 427–442.

Listening tools

Smith, Linda Tuhiwai. Decolonizing methodologies: Research and indigenous peoples. Zed Books Ltd., 2013.

Chin, Elizabeth. 2007. “The Consumer Diaries, or, Autoethnography in the Inverted World.” Journal of Consumer Culture 7 (3): 335–53.

Simpson, Audra. “On ethnographic refusal: Indigeneity, ‘voice’ and colonial citizenship.” Junctures: The Journal for Thematic Dialogue 9 (2007).

Divided by Design: Findings from the American South. A great example of design research: interviews from across demographics, synthesized into key problems and insights from those communities, constructing understanding about what it would mean to design for those communities (and their needs). (link)

Making Tools

Repositories of methods, organizations, etc.

Design Kit (IDEO): Tools and methods useful for the well known consulting firm IDEO.

The Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction, 2nd Ed. Definitions and short articles on relevant concepts Tools and methods relating to usability.

School for Poetic Computation

Interaction Design Association (IXDA)

Wireframing tools

For when you must design for the screen.

Figma / Miro / InVision (Free, Web)

Adobe XD (PC/Mac)

Sketch (Mac)

Principle (Mac)

Cool methods + workbooks

Exercises and books that might aid + expand the way you think + talk about concepts.

New Metaphors, by the Imaginaries Lab

The Polak Game by Stuart Candy

Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud. HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Napkin Sketch Workbook, Don Moyer

Interaction design “canon,” in the Western (digital, technologist, capitalist) sense

These provide foundational knowledge on interaction design — as situated within creating digital technologies in the west.

Designing Interactions. 2006. Bill Moggridge

Designing for Interaction: Creating Innovative Applications and Devices. 2006. Dan Saffer

Lidwell, William, Kritina Holden, and Jill Butler. Universal principles of design, revised and updated: 125 ways to enhance usability, influence perception, increase appeal, make better design decisions, and teach through design. Rockport Pub, 2010.



Cathryn Ploehn, MDes
DES 304

Data viz, computational design, interaction design / Professor at UT Austin / MDes Carnegie Mellon