Design Research

Interaction Design (IXD): How should we define it?

How should we define interaction design? There have been plenty of attempts to do this in the literature, most notably by Jon Kolko in his 2010 book Thoughts on Interaction Design. Defining IXD is difficult because it means different things to different people.

I have taught a subject, DXB110, Principles of Interaction Design for four years. With two of my fellow teachers–Sam Hobson and Jess Greentree–we have thought long and hard about this question of definition. A definition needs to work for describing the industry (“what interaction designers do”) as well as the academic domain (the study of designing for interactions). It needs to be relevant for the past and the future as well as for today. It’s a tricky problem.

We have come up with some criteria for what a definition of IXD should do, analyzed a number of definitions of interaction design, and proposed our own definition. All of that is described in a journal paper that is still under review. I look forward to sharing that once it’s published.

We’ve developed a very short version of that work to use in our teaching that is much more accessible. It addresses the question: how should we define IXD?


  • Kelly, N., Hobson, S., & Greentree, J. (Under review). Interaction Design (IXD): An invitation for a definition, IXD&A
  • Kolko, J. (2010). Thoughts on interaction design. Morgan Kaufmann.

1 reply on “Interaction Design (IXD): How should we define it?”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.