The Role of Theory
in HCI

Development Methods



Survey Methods

Logging &
Automated Metrics

Choosing Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Appropriate Research Methods


Researching issues related to the Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) is not solely limited to experienced computer science specialists. Individuals that are computer knowledgeable, and possess a genuine interest, have the ability to perform research in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI).

Individuals wishing to research HCI come from a wide variety of professional and academic arenas, including:

  • Informtaion Technology & Computing
  • Design & Development
  • Business
  • Entertainment
  • Education
  • Library Sciences

Motivations and interests in researching HCI are even wider. These are some of the more common areas of research:

  • Website design and construction
  • Consumer product design and development
  • Data Management and Information Visualization
  • Ergonomics and Industrial Design
  • Online Communities and Collaborative Systems
  • Entertainment and Gaming

This website provides a useful index of the methods and methodologies used in HCI research. The goal is to assist the user in selecting the most appropriate method for a researcher's specific interest. This website organizes the methods into the following categories.

  • Development Methods: User Needs Assessments & Task Analyses
  • Ethnographic Methods
  • Controlled Experiments
  • Survey Methods: Surveys & Questionnaires
  • Logging & Automated Metrics

The following guidelines will help you make decisions on choosing the appropriate research methods for your HCI interests.

  1. Read, research, and understand the numerous theories and domains that investigate HCI related issues. The Role of Theory page in this website will help get you started.
  2. Select the domains of HCI that specifically support your objectives. Read and research the theories and models specific to those domains you selected.
  3. Then, review the methodologies available for your investigation.
  4. Choose the appropriate methodologies, based on the desired breadth and depth of your investigation
  5. Use your investigations to build theories and/or models.

Numerous links have been provided within each section as an additional resource for specific topics.

This website is the product of the students in Dr. Ben Shneiderman's Fall 2001 CMSC838s, a seminar on understandng the Human-Computer Interaction of mobile devices. Some other recent class web sites include Universal Usability in Practice ( and Students' HCI Online Research Experiments (SHORE 2001) ( An active research group at the University of Maryland is the Human-Computer Interaction Lab (

Our class would like to thank Chadia Abras, Diane Maloney-Krichmar, Dorine Andrews, members of the DC CHI chapter, Mathew Chalmers, any others who provided critical suggestions and observations, and especially Evan Golub, for their help and suggestions in constructing this website.

Last updated November 26, 2001
edited by A.Sasha Giacoppo