What's the relationship between user experience and design professionals (UX&D), and (academic) researchers in human-computer interaction (HCI)? This webpage is all about providing resources to answer that question.

There has been intermittent interest in this question from both HCI researchers and UX&D professionals (I use this acronym to hint at the broad gamut of people working in the UX, interaction design, information architecture, and broader digital design space). This page attempts to document instances of research, discussions, findings and people who have investigated this topic (or something related to it) in the past and / or currently. This list covers:

As such, it is part annotated bibliography and part resource list. For each I include my own notes (which may be quite selective, of course!). The list is currently not very ordered or organised.

If you have something to add, suggest or critique, please contact me as I would like to build the page into something that is ever-more comprehensive and usable, offering a range of perspectives and approaches. If I have written about your work and have summarised it poorly I would welcome contributions in this regard. Finally, it is worth noting that the list will probably naturally have an academic bias, but this is not intentional and I would be keen to hear about views from the 'other side of the fence'.


  1. Annotated resource list (i.e., research on HCI-UX connections)
  2. A note on terminology (UX? HCI? 'practitioner'? etc.)
  3. Key UX&D literature (for professionals)
  4. Extended bibliography (academic research literature on the HCI-UX connections topic)

Annotated Resource List

Amodeus-1 / Amodeus-2

The Amodeus project (actually two projects, Amodeus-1 and Amodeus-2) was a large-scale European (ESPRIT scheme) project that lasted some seven years, running from the late 1980s through to the mid 1990s. The final report (from 1995) describes the project's outputs in detail.

A significant portion of the project was dedicated to uncovering "routes for transferring basic research in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) to interface designers". It should be noted that the project commenced at a critical point in the design of user interfaces, as many systems were shifting from text-based interfaces to fully graphical user interfaces. These changes also happen against a backdrop of ever-increasing applications of computer systems for all manner of tasks with ever-more diverse sets of users. These factors presented an explosion in complexity for the design of these new interfaces. It makes sense that this project would address matters of research-practice "transfer" (as it conceived of it). It is worth noting also that at this point, HCI was very much a young field, and far smaller community of researchers that it currently is (as of 2015).

The key outputs of the project in terms of HCI research and design practice connections seemed to focus around design rationales work—with a 'design rationale' being a set of documentation articulating why certain decisions have been made during a design process. This work included things like Design Space Analysis, and the Questions Options Criteria notation (see Bellotti et al. below). The QOC notation in particular is "semi-formal" structured interrogation method for design problems. To quote from Bellotti (1993):

"A QOC design space analysis captures argumentation about multiple possible solutions to design problems. The space is structured by Questions expressing design issues. Each Question is linked to multiple Options which are alternative solutions to the same problem. Options are positively or negatively assessed by each of a set of Criteria. An Option can also spawn consequent Questions which assume that Option is part of the design context of further argumentation"

A particularly enlightening paper is by Victoria Bellotti (1993) on "Integrating theoreticians' and practitioners' perspectives with design rationales". In the paper theoreticians ("cognitive modellers") are pitted against practitioners ("software designers") when solving a design problem. For instance, formalist theoreticians create evaluations like 'all mouse actions are non-deterministic'; designers indicated that they thought they could not benefit from this. QOC was then used as an evaluative tool to compare practitioners and theoreticians solutions. The paper essentially argues that theoreticians' results can shape / support designers' work, and provide richer design solutions. Further it indicated that designers have confirmation biases about their own solutions, and overall argues that designers could have used theoretical insight.


  • Bellotti, V. 1993. Integrating theoreticians' and practitioners' perspectives with design rationales, CHI 1993, pp. 101-106.
  • Bellotti, V., Shum, S. B., MacLean, A., Hammond, N. Multidisciplinary modelling in HCI design... in theory and in practice, CHI 1995.
  • Shum, S. B., Hammond, N. Delivering HCI Modelling to Designers:
A Framework, and Case Study of Cognitive Modelling, Interacting with Computers, 6(3):314-341, 1993.

Elizabeth Goodman

Goodman has conducted ethnographic studies of interaction designers at work in their design practices / studios. Her ethnography largely focuses on the ways in which the designers conduct prototyping (e.g., with wireframes) and—crucially—how those prototypes get presented to clients.



NSF Project on Research into Interaction Design Practice at University of Indiana

This NSF-funded research project has been engaging in study of interaction design practice as a topic for some years (2012(?) to present).


Below is a summary of relevant publications from this research work. I have restricted my focus to the work on investigations of designer's work practices.


Erin Friess

Friess has been performing empirical studies of UX&D with particular focus on the ways in which personas (a popular tool) feature in the design process. Although she has published at HCI-related venues, her domain seems to be (technical) communication-research focussed. She has also published findings from her research in the Journal of Usability Studies, which is a UXPA-organised journal.



Susan Dray

Dray maintains (as is a rare case, it seems) both practitioner and academic careers. Like other 'boundary hoppers' listed here she has noted the gaps between academic research and practice, and has written on the topic.



Gitte Lindgaard

Lindgaard has practitioner and academic credentials. She has begun conducting interviews with UX practitioners, exploring the methods they use (e.g., usability evaluations, expert reviews / heuristic evaluation) as a way of investigating the gap between HCI research and practitioner's work.


  • Lindgaard, G. The usefulness of traditional usability evaluation methods. interactions, 2014(?).
  • Gitte Lindgaard and Jarinee Chattratichart. 2007. Usability testing: what have we overlooked?. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '07). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 1415-1424.

UX Research-Practice Interaction ACM SIG

This is a Special Interest Group that has been set up to encourage links between (academic) research and (industry) practice worlds within HCI, and the CHI community specifically. There are various members involved (e.g., Clare Hooper, Elizabeth Buie), but Keith Instone has the broadest range of resources on his website. There have been several events, reaching back to 2010, for which I provide a rough timeline:


Instone's notes to his talk at the Connecting Dots Conference in 2014 are perhaps the most clear summary of the above series of meetings, workshops, panels etc. Drawing out a few key points from this:

Don Norman

Norman is one of the few people who seems to figure strongly both within the academic HCI world and that of UX / IxD. Within HCI Norman is a continuous contributor, but is perhaps best known for his '7 stage model' of action that describes the user's cognitive processes and their effect on the world—and the attendant 'gulfs' of execution and evaluation. He also is well known for redescribing Gibson's notion of affordances. His work seems similarly known to practitioners. This status makes him uniquely relevant for discussions of the links between academic HCI and UX / IxD.



Rolf Molich

Molich is an important figure particularly for UX researchers, in that he did foundational work on developing usability heuristics (often called 'expert review') for inspection of interface designs, and also has run various 'comparative usability evaluations' (CUE) that evaluate the evaluations produced by practitioners when inspecting a particular design (such as a website). Like Norman, Molich is a 'boundary hopper', who engages with UX&D communities as well as academic HCI.


The CUE studies are examinations of practitioner's work within usability testing and as such bring an academic approach to this key practitioner technique. Molich provides a helpful list of four key issues the CUE studies have demonstrated. I can't sum them up any more clearly than he does, so I provide a quotation here in full:

  1. "The number of usability problems in a typical website is often so large that you can't hope to find more than a fraction of the problems in an ordinary usability test."
  2. "There's no measurable difference in the quality of the results produced by usability tests and expert reviews."
  3. "Six—or even 15—test participants are nowhere near enough to find 80% of the usability problems. Six test participants will, however, provide sufficient information to drive a useful iterative development process."
  4. "Even professional usability evaluators make many mistakes in usability test task construction, problem reporting, and recommendations."

Microsoft "Things we've learnt about" magazines

Larger companies such as Google or Microsoft have dedicated research divisions which often engage in high quality academic research. Often it is feasible for them to embed members of their research groups into product teams. However, it seems that the links between research and practice can be problematic for them too.

As a case in point, Microsoft Research has been producing public magazines that summarise their research in a format that is intended for the "busy people who work for Microsoft in the US, building products". This is an attempt to reformat some of their research division's findings in ways that demonstrate a strong link between research and product development at Microsoft's company as well as providing a glossy, accessible presentation of content from academic papers published out of work conducted at MSR. These magazines are freely downloadable.

Torkil Clemmensen

Alongside a range of co-authors, Torkil Clemmensen has been investigating the perspectives of usability and user experience professionals for some time. I've yet to summarise his work in this area, however there is a set of references below that provide links to his work.


Kath Straub

Straub has run a "Research in Practice" tutorial at the UXPA conference for a number of years.

The Interaction Design Foundation (http://www.interaction-design.org)

This organisation seeks to offer materials and resources for UX practitioners

Me (Stuart Reeves—Academic researcher, University of Nottingham, UK)

This page is more about what others are doing at the moment, but you can find out more about my work in the area by looking at the Fellowship section of my website.

A note on terminology

In this page I refer to:

It is worth foregrounding the problems of some combinations of terms we face when dealing with the literature in this area. There are several that crop up to muddy the waters: 'research', 'theory', 'academic', 'practitioner', 'practice'. At the moment I am tempted to organise this work in the following three categories (although currently the list is not organised in this way):

  1. Academics studying their own research practices. This is primarily a reflective activity performed by academics looking at their own work practices. Confusingly, here the term 'practitioner' refers to academic researchers as practitioners. This includes two subcategories:
    • Studies of research methods (e.g., usability testing) as performed in academic environments (e.g., labs).
    • Examinations of the link between theory and practice within academic HCI research.
  2. Academics studying (non-academic) practitioners of UX, IxD, etc. This involves examinations of the work practices of practitioners in some way, primarily consisting of examinations of their methods, techniques, etc. This work takes place in practitioner-oriented contexts such as industry design studios, and involves interactions with practitioners in some way (e.g., via interview, observation, learning to be a practitioner, etc.).
  3. (UX / IxD) Practitioners studying practitioners. This category involves people who are primarily practitioners examining and reflecting on the various methods, techniques, etc. that they use.

Orienting literature

I've collected together a range of literature that it seems can do a good job of orienting someone to the concerns, methods, approaches, concepts, challenges, etc. of UX&D professionals. As well as seeking out literature myself I've had help from Stavros Garzonis, Elsa Bartley and Rebecca Gill.


  • About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design
  • Design of Everyday Things
  • Universal Principles of Design
  • Designing for the Digital Age
  • The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web and Beyond Interviewing Users
  • Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-it-yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems
  • Don't Make Me Think!: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
  • Just Enough Research
  • Design is a Job
  • Interviewing Users
  • A Project Guide to UX Design: For user experience designers in the field or in the making
  • Designing Interactions
  • Sketching User Experiences: Getting the Design Right and the Right Design
  • Lean UX: Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience
  • Universal Principles of Design: 100 Ways to Enhance Usability, Influence Perception, Increase Appeal, Make Better Design Decisions, and Teach through Design
  • Designing for the Digital Age: How to Create Human-Centered Products and Services
  • Information Architecture for the World Wide Web: Designing Large-Scale Web Sites
  • The Smashing Book(s)
  • Information is Beautiful
  • The Humane Interface
  • Observing the user experience
  • Mental Models: Aligning Design Strategy with Human Behavior
  • 100 things every designer needs to know about people

There is quite a lot of related work that I have not fully examined yet. However, I have created a list of further work that I intend to look at, so I include this as a 'placeholder' for expansion of the above resource list.