Wednesday 29 April 2015


I'm designing my final PhD document and I have already 69 pages of content in place. That is JUST the bibliography, image lists and four appendices. I do not wish to guess how many pages the actual 75,000 words of the PhD will occupy.

Tuesday 8 July 2014

Friday 20 June 2014

Write up and iteration 2

As my PhD draws to a close I am now in the final stages of iterating improvements to The Circle of Visual Interpretation method cards, and writing up my PhD thesis. I've been invited to workshop the new method card iteration in September at another interaction design conference so I'll be renewing posts to this blog very soon.

In the meantime to show that I've been active here are a few image teasers from the visual appendix that will accompany my thesis…

Monday 3 February 2014

Going Dutch… very soon.

Nearly ready for Interaction 14 and my workshop. Just a slight detour via Newcastle before I fly out.

I've just posted this teaser shot on Circle of Visual Interpretation Cards page…

…nearly there (suitcase wheels permitting).

Wednesday 22 January 2014

Interaction 14 workshop nearly sold out :-)

WOW! A near sell out. I was only expecting @5 people and now I've got 20+ people attending my Interaction 14 workshop. Good job I printed enough sets of method cards for a full house, but I never thought I'd need them all. I'm honoured. ‏

From Twitter:

@ixdconf Only 5 tickets left for 'Circle of Visual Interpretation Workshop' by @VisualHermeneut #IxD14

Monday 20 January 2014

Interface Design book now out

My new book Interface Design: An introduction to visual communication in UI design is now out. Order your copy from here.


"Interface Design: An introduction to visual communication in UI design delivers real examples of the process of designing for UI and interactive projects. Seeing and learning from real examples of maps and diagramming while outlining critical components of the UI design process at various stages, makes this book an incredibly important resource for anyone wanting to learn about and implement a UI strategy - especially for graphic designers who were educated in the print world but want to make the transition to working on UI and interactive projects. Applying the information in this book can absolutely make any designer a more valuable and strategic contributor to current and prospective clients and employers. This book is easy to follow, provides a clear understanding of what to expect in each chapter, offers insight into key questions to be asked throughout the UI process and is loaded with relevant and applicable content and insight. This is not only a book, but an incredibly useful learning tool that can be utilized on daily basis."

Sean Brennan, Senior Project Manager, Haneke Design, Tampa, Florida, USA 

Re-emerging from the PhD… my upcoming workshop at Interaction 14

After months of hard work of PhD projects, I'll be workshopping the first practical iteration of my research into a Visual Phenomenological Methodology in Amsterdam in February at Interaction 14.
In my workshop Circle of Visual Interpretation I'll be using packs of 11 method cards featuring 7 steps to visually interpret an experience…

Front and back of Step 4 card.

Places on the workshop are now available. Book a place via

More information will be posted on this blog in it's own designated Circle of Visual Interpretation Cards area.

Circle of Visual Interpretation Workshop

February 5th, Wednesday 09:30 HKU Hilversum, Amsterdam.
Morning workshop by Dave Wood
Workshop using a visually interpretive method that reveals to interaction designers what users experience in ways that personas can’t communicate.

It is difficult to know for certain that the experience of one user will be the same as that for other users, and if other users sense the same things or encounter the world in the same way as each other. Yet interaction designers have to find a way of designing new interactions to suit their target audiences. Alan Cooper argues quite rightly that, “if you’re going to do user-centered design you’ve got to understand the user.”

This half-day workshop will give you, the interaction design professional, direct, hands–on experience of a new low cost methodology you can employ to reveal the meaning of user experiences through interpretation of the user’s experience itself. This emergent methodology will augment your personas within the normal ideation phase of your design process, creating a deeper understanding of what your users actually do, think, feel etc. rather that what they consciously think they know.
The practical workshop’s activities encourage the application of a method to reveal actual user experience through ‘the eyes of the users’ by applying a technique of hermeneutic-semiosis - which means visual interpretation through semiotics.

Themes in workshop include:
  • The Essence of Experience;
  • Hermeneutic-Semiosis;
  • The Circle of Interpretation.
Dave will lead you through a process of revealing user experience through a visual hermeneutic circle of interpretation to reveal what was previously hidden. This creates visual stimuli for interaction designers that reveals the essence of what is really happening with the user, in ways that personas and mental models cannot do. Through this new visual interpretive methodology a fresh perspective that illustrates the core phenomenological essence of an experience can be interpreted from the user’s own points-of-view.

During this half-day workshop, we will use a very practical method card approach rather than a dry academic approach. The underlying hermeneutic-semiosis theory that (synthesising aspects of Pragmatism, and Martin Heidegger through C.S. Peirce’s semiotics) acts as a framework for the practical exploration.

You’ll come away with a clear understanding of the principles behind the methodology, and practical ideas that can inform your future interaction designs in new ways. It will also open up the debate as to how Visual Communication can be utilised more in the design of better interactive user experiences.
In the workshop you will:
  • Discover how the methodology works through easy-to-use method cards;
  • Participate in structured practical activities from the method cards to help show how you can apply it to your projects;
  • Understand how to reveal more from your user research to achieve a fuller picture of your users, based on their actual points-of-view;
  • Feedback your thoughts from the exercises and help further develop the methodology.
Activities include:
  • Identifying themes of an experience—training participants to identify invariant themes in an experience from within user research;
  • Revealing essence of experience—applying the principles of the method to reveal hidden user experience;
  • Visually interpreting the experience—using a visual hermeneutic circle to refine the revealed experiential essence. 

Sunday 11 August 2013

My PhD Contextual Review

Just collating my Phd's contextual review from writing I've done across 6 papers.

I have a 6,000 word target for my review.

Currently I have 17,547 words contextualising my thesis across the literature of Visual Communication, Interaction Design, HCI, Pragmatic Aesthetics, Hermeneutic Phenomenology and Peircean Semiotics.


Thursday 4 April 2013

Been quiet but not idle… UXPA Talk - "DYNAMIC SINSIGN" 21st May

Although the blog has been quiet I haven't. I've been busy with my students, proofing my new book and working hard on my PhD. Some of the results of that work will appear on this blog over the coming weeks and presented to the members of User Experience Professionals Association in Edinburgh on the 21st May.

The talk is called Dynamic sinsign: Sign-action communicating experiential themes. Check out the link here to book a place.
The talk is free for UXPA members, £10 for non-members, and £5 for students. Pay at the door. [Payment is a UXPA thing - I'm speaking for no fee so I have nothing to do with the money!]  

Skyscanner: Quartermile One, 15 Lauriston Pl, Edinburgh EH3 9EN. LATECOMERS CAN NOT BE ADMITTED  



About the event
This talk emerges out of Dave’s current research-in-progress into interaction design from a Visual Communication perspective. Through a clever synthesis of Peircean semiotics and Martin Heidegger, Dave will discuss how the user experience can be revealed in a new way that connects HCI and interaction design with Visual Communication. The 45 minute illustrated talk is for any UX designer who’d like to get into the mind of the user to see what they experience in a hermeneutically direct way that personas and mental models can’t communicate.

In the first section of Dave’s talk he’ll set out the context for how Visual Communication can inform user experience:
  • Visual Communication as a facilitator in behavioural change 
  • Interpreting the Hidden 
  • Signified Inspirational Data 
In the second section, Dave will illustrate his proposition with some early research experimental graphic outcomes and methods:
  • Experience probes - capturing experiences 
  • Experiential themes and dynamic sinsigns - visual interpretation 
  • Visual Hermeneutic Circle - analysing and reduction 
Dave will reveal some of the philosophy that structures the central idea and implications. He will end by discussing the development of an experimental qualitative methodology to explore this further. The nascent Visual Phenomenological Methodology will be developed over the next year as part of his PhD, and Dave would welcome conversations with industrial partners to develop a Knowledge Transfer Partnership.

More about the speaker 
Dave is author of Interface Design: An introduction to visual communication in UI design to be published by Bloomsbury (AVA) in October 2013. Originally an illustrator, in 1997 he made the transition into interaction design designing interfaces. In the last decade he has become more interested in the user experience and the re-positioning of the design discipline of Visual Communication over the design of future interactions. His interest now lies in understanding the user's experience in the interaction and exploring how this can be communicated to other designers.

He is a lecturer in digital design and design researcher at Glasgow Caledonian University, teaching on BA(Hons) Graphic Design for Digital Media. He teaches across all 4 years, and in the 3rd year he teaches a user experience module called Design and the User to design students.

A member of the Interaction Design Association, he has academically published his research and is currently in the practical phase of a practice-based Visual Communication PhD at Edinburgh College of Art. Check out his academic profile and blog

Monday 29 October 2012

Hermeneutic Circle - Type Experiment 5

Hermeneutic Circle - Typographical Experimentation for 2nd PhD Practical Work

Hermeneutic Circle - Type Experiment 5: Imaginative Variation

Thursday 11 October 2012

Hermeneutic Circle - Type Experiment 4

Hermeneutic Circle - Typographical Experimentation for 2nd PhD Practical Work

Hermeneutic Circle - Type Experiment 4

Saturday 6 October 2012

Hermeneutic Circle - Type Experiment 3

Hermeneutic Circle - Typographical Experimentation for 2nd PhD Practical Work

Hermeneutic Circle - Type Experiment 3

Thursday 4 October 2012

Being in the World Documentary

maciasterence. (2012) Being in the World [online]. [Accessed 4th October 2012]. Available from:


"We're thoroughly conditioned by the world we are in, and that world is a world of customs, traditions, practices that we are so immersed in that we no longer see a way out of it. So the only way to do anything skillfully, with innovation, insight, sensitivity, and authentically is to be appropriating traditions, practices, customs that are all around us in the world that we just absorbed."
Taylor Carmen, Professor of Philosophy, Barnard College, Colombia University (37:10)

Hermeneutic Circle - Type Experiment 2

Hermeneutic Circle - Typographical Experimentation for 2nd PhD Practical Work

Hermeneutic Circle - Type Experiment 2

Hermeneutic Circle - Type Experiment 1

Hermeneutic Circle - Typographical Experimentation for 2nd PhD Practical Work

Hermeneutic Circle - Type Experiment 1

C is for CONTEXTS in which the WHOLE exists - Hermeneutic Circle

Hermeneutic Circle - Typographical Experimentation for 2nd PhD Practical Work

C is for CONTEXTS in which the WHOLE exists

B is for PARTS that can be CLUSTERED - Hermeneutic Circle

Hermeneutic Circle - Typographical Experimentation for 2nd PhD Practical Work

B is for PARTS that can be CLUSTERED

B is for PARTS - Hermeneutic Circle

Hermeneutic Circle - Typographical Experimentation for 2nd PhD Practical Work

B is for PARTS

A is for WHOLE - Hermeneutic Circle

Hermeneutic Circle - Typographical Experimentation for 2nd PhD Practical Work

A is for WHOLE

Hermeneutic Circle - The Starting Point

Hermeneutic Circle - The Starting Point

Friday 17 August 2012

The Semiotics of Embodied Interaction… Connection Through Pragmatism

O’Neill, S. (2008) Interactive Media: The Semiotics of Embodied Interaction. London: Springer-Verlag.
“we live in a world that has been vastly altered by our cognitive abilities such that we inhabit not only the empirical world of physical entities but also the world of sign systems, which are a direct result of our cumulative interactions with the world (and each other) over time. Thus, the relationship between the subject and the object is dealt in a pragmatic way, where external phenomena are experienced as signs that are meaningful to the organism and there is no separation of the two.” (p144)


The experience of an empirical authentic relationship within an environment between the person and the objects in that environment is mediated by the inauthentic semiotics of what those same objects afford to the person as to how they can be used. O’Neill argues that there is no separation between the modes of a meaningful existence, “Because we perceive before we conceive, we find that the body is at the root of our conceptual apparatus as well as being able to engage with the world without having to think about it” (p158). As the human is an essential organism in the environment and not distinct from the environment. Seen in a pragmatic way, the semiotic signs from the objects in the environment communicates meanings that lead to action that impacts on the nature of the same environment.

The Semiotics of Embodied Interaction… Ready-to-hand and Present-at-hand Modes

O’Neill, S. (2008) Interactive Media: The Semiotics of Embodied Interaction. London: Springer-Verlag.

“Interacting with the media of all kinds then falls between these two modes of being. On one hand we perceive and encounter our media-rich environment directly, we manipulate it and transform it through our-ready-to-hand mode of being. On the other hand, we are constantly viewing, reading and interpreting mediated information through the reflective mode of encountering it as present-at-hand. At the same time we move between these two modes of being as we inscribe, interpret, transcribe and transform our mediated environment. In a very clear sense we are deeply entwined physically with the media in our environment and in another we are constantly making, and making sense of, the inscriptions that the media environment affords us.” (p140)


An experience fluctuates between a ready-to-hand mode of being and a present-at-hand mode. The former involves the perception, interpretation, action and physically embodied manipulation using what is at hand in the experience of interacting within the present environment the person finds themselves in. The latter a more reflexive interpreting state of scanning what is available, making sense of the semiotic messages inscribed within the present environment the person finds themselves in.

The Semiotics of Embodied Interaction… Mediated Inauthentic Experience

O’Neill, S. (2008) Interactive Media: The Semiotics of Embodied Interaction. London: Springer-Verlag.

“when we are engaged in making physical representations of our thoughts, i.e., placing them out in the world either through writing, speaking or drawing, we are making further inauthentic media elements to be thought about. Therefore we cannot help but inhabit an inauthentic mediated environment.” (p138)


The act of creating, especially of visual communication outcomes, and placing these in-the-world is a step away from a directly sensed and experienced reality, into a mediated inauthentic experience prescribed by the designer. The act of interpreting these outcomes to understand the meaning in order to decide upon an action in the interaction, leads to further inauthentic outcomes of clicking, moving, selecting within a digital realm. As our being-in-the-world is dependent on interplay between firstly an authentic direct natural empirical experience within an environment, and secondly an inauthentic mediated experience within that environment of stimuli that is not naturally available. Visual communication outcomes populate an authentic reality.

The Semiotics of Embodied Interaction… Hermeneutic Circle

O’Neill, S. (2008) Interactive Media: The Semiotics of Embodied Interaction. London: Springer-Verlag.

“Related to the concepts of ‘Ready-to-hand’ and ‘Present-to-hand’ are the concepts of ‘authentic’ and ‘inauthentic’ being. For Heidegger, ‘authentic’ being comes about through experiencing the world as ready-to-hand in its firstness, its primary authentically disclosed state in a direct one to one relationship with a natural environment without any mediation. ‘Inauthentic’ being then, for Heidegger, is the experience of being-in-the-world that is predominantly based on being thrown into a prescribed world; i.e., it is an experience of living in a media-saturated world where most of our experiences are second hand. Both ‘authentic’ and ‘inauthentic’ experiences can occur in relation to both ready-to-hand and present-to-hand modes of being. That is, we can experience the natural world and the mediated world from the perspective of doing things with it or thinking about it.” (p136)


An individual absorbs new knowledge from a variety of authentic (direct) and inauthentic (mediated) sources throughout their life. This impacts on an individual’s interpretation at any time (Bohman, 1991, p140), and explain aspects of deviation of interpretation when compared to the collective in a hermeneutic circle.

The Semiotics of Embodied Interaction… Behaviour Change

O’Neill, S. (2008) Interactive Media: The Semiotics of Embodied Interaction. London: Springer-Verlag.

“The key to solving this fundamental problem [compatibility of Heidegger’s, Merleau-Ponty’s and Peirce’s theories] is in understanding the relationship between perception and conception. In other words, in developing a theory that takes into account how veridical perceptual experiences of the ‘real’ world that are derived through direct perception become, stored, represented or re-perceived in our minds as knowledge. Furthermore this theory also has to take into account how this knowledge is fed back into the world as mediated representations that signify that same knowledge in our heads, allowing us to communicate and socially construct the everyday world of our reality.” (p133)


Phenomenologically it is difficult to know for certain what one person sees is the same for others, but through a socio-cultural consensus meaning is agreed, attributed, and mediated through a visual grammar of signs. These signify meanings that are socially constructed and that can be successfully interpreted leading to a change in behaviour that the designer is trying to facilitate. How this behaviour change unfolds can be phenomenologically revealed, and also visually communicated.