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Dr. Andrew Warr is a researcher with interests in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Computer Support Cooperative Work (CSCW), Design and Creativity. Andrew is currently a Usability Researcher Fellow at the Oxford e-Research Centre (OeRC), University of Oxford. He is working with Dr. Marina Jirotka (PI) on the EPSRC funded 'Embedding e-Science Applications - Designing and Managing for Usability' project. Prior to this project, Andrew studied for his PhD in the HCI Group at the University of Bath, supervised by Dr. Eamonn O'Neill. His PhD research focused on 'Understanding and Supporting Creativity in Design'. During this time Andrew was also a Visiting Researcher at the Centre for LifeLong Learning and Design (L3D) at the University of Colorado, Boulder working with Prof. Gerhard Fischer and his colleagues. In addition to these research activities, Andrew also has strong interests in designing, developing and evaluating mobile and pervasive technologies for social settings.

Understanding and Supporting Creativity in Design

HCI involves the design, development and evaluation of interactive systems and the study of their use [Dix et al, 1993; Hewett et al, 1996; Preece, 1994]. The HCI discipline has been described as a 'design-oriented field of research' [Fallman, 2003]. Design in HCI involves the design of interfaces, interactions and experiences [Guidin, 1990; Preece et al, 2002; Wright & McCarthy, 2004].

Design has been described as a process that produces a new or refined product [Alexander, 1964; Coyne, 1995; Ehn, 1989; Fallman, 2003; Jones, 1970; Mayall, 1979; Rasmussen et al, 1994; Rittel, 1984; Schon, 1983; Simon, 1996; Vicente, 1999]. In terms of design in HCI, the product is the interface, interaction or experience. However, what is the process that produces this product?

This process of design has been described as involving a certain 'mystical element' [Fallman, 2003]. Both researchers and practitioners have found it difficult to articulate where their design ideas come from, or even differentiate between the process of generating new ideas and refining them [Rosson et al, 1987]. The 'mystical element' of the process of design has been described using terms such as 'creativity' [e.g. Alborzi et al, 2002; Buur & Bødker, 2002; Fallman, 2003; Guindon, 1990; Rosson et al, 1987].

If we don't understand creativity in design, it is hard to know how best to support the creative process of design [Johnson & Currthers, 2006; Rosson et al, 1987]. Furthermore, it is argued that the support provided for the creative process of design impacts the quality of the design process itself and its resultant products [Rosson et al, 1987]. Hence, 2 research questions emerge:

Research question 1: What is creativity in design?

Research question 2: How can we support creativity in design?

The aim of my research has been to answer these 2 research questions.

In this project we developed an understanding of creativity in the forms of a definition of creativity, metrics and measures of creativity and an understanding of the process of being creative. These contributions were developed throughout the project building upon theoretical work and were refined reflecting upon our practical studies.

Furthermore, we developed an understanding of how to support creativity in design by eliciting requirements for creativity support tools, based upon our theoretical work and practical studies. The application of these requirements were reflected upon and illustrated through the evaluation of an existing support tool and the design, development and evaluation of our own creativity support tool - Public Social Private Design (PSPD).

Further reading:

Warr, A. (2006). Situated and Distributed Design. In The Distributed Participatory Design Workshop. At the 4th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer interaction (Oslo, Norway, October 14 - 18, 2006). NordiCHI'06. Available at:

Warr, A. (2007). Understanding and Supporting Creativity in Design. PhD Thesis, University of Bath, UK. June, 2007.

Warr, A. & O'Neill, E. (2004). Getting Creative with Participatory Design. In the Proceedings of the 8th Conference on Participatory Design: Artful integration: interweaving Media, Materials and Practices (Toronto, Canada, July 27 - 31, 2004). PDC'04. 57-61.

Warr, A. & O'Neill, E. (2005). Understanding Design as a Social Creative Process. In the Proceedings of the 5th Conference on Creativity and Cognition (London, UK, April 12 - 15, 2005). C&C'05. ACM Press, 118-127.

Warr, A. & O'Neill, E. (2005). The Effect of Operational Mechanisms on Creativity. In the Proceedings of the 10th IFIP Interaction Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (Rome, Italy, September 12 - 16, 2005) INTERACT'05, Springer-Verlag, 629-642.

Warr, A. & O'Neill, E. (2006). Public Social Private Design (PSPD). In the extended abstracts of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Montreal, Canada, April 24 - 27, 2006). CHI'06. ACM Press, 1499-1504.

Warr, A., O'Neill, E. (2006). The Effect of Group Composition on Divergent Thinking in an Interaction Design Activity. In the Proceedings of the 6th Conference on Designing Interactive Systems: Processes, Practices, Methods and Techniques (Penn State College, USA, July 26 - 28, 2006). DIS'06. ACM Press, 122-131.

Warr, A. & O'Neill, E. (2006). Tools for Creativity: Sketching with the EDC and PSPD. In the workshop: "Sketching" Nurturing Creativity: Commonalities in Art, Design, Engineering and Research (Montreal, Canada, April 23). CHI'06. Available at:

Warr, A. & O'Neill, E. (2007). Tool Support for Creativity using Externalisations. In the proceedings of the 6th conference on Creativity and Cognition (Washington D.C., USA, June 13 - 15, 2007). C&C'07. ACM Press.

Warr, A. & O'Neill, E. (2007). Tools To Support Collaborative Creativity. In the workshop: Tools in Support of Creative Collaboration - at C&C 2007, 13-15 June 2007, Washington D.C., USA.


Alborzi, H., Druin, A., Montemayor, J., Platner, M., Porteous, J., Sherman, L., Boltman, A., Taxn, G., Best, J., Hammer, J., Kruskal, A., Lal, A., Schwenn, T. P., Sumida, L., Wagner, R. & Hendler, J. (2000). Designing StoryRooms: Interactive Storytelling Spaces for Children. In the Proceedings of the 3rd Conference on Designing Interactive Systems: Processes, Practices, Methods and Techniques (New York, USA, August 17 -19, 2000). DIS'00. ACM Press, 95-104.

Alexander, C. (1964) Notes on the Synthesis of Form. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.

Buur, J. & Bødker, S. (2000). From Usability Lab to "Design Collaboratorium": Reframing Usability Practice. In the Proceedings of the 3rd Conference on Designing Interactive Systems: Processes, Practices, Methods and Techniques (New York, USA, August 17 -19, 2000). DIS'00. ACM Press, 297-307.

Coyne, R. (1995). Designing Information Technology in the Postmodern Age. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.

Dix, A., Finlay, J. Abowd, B. & Beale, R. (2004). Human-Computer Interaction. Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ.

Ehn, P. (1989). Work-Oriented Design of Computer Artefacts. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Hillsdale, NJ.

Fallman, D. (2003). Design-oriented Human-Computer Interaction. In the Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Fort Lauderdale, US, April 5 - 10, 2003). CHI'03. ACM Press, 225-232.

Grudin, J. (1990). The Computer Reaches Out: The Historical Continuity of Interface Design. In the Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Seattle, US, April 1 - 5, 1990). CHI'90. ACM Press, 261-268.

Guindon R. (1990). Designing the Design Process: Exploiting Opportunistic Thoughts. Human-Computer Interaction, 5, 305-344.

Hewett, T., Baecker, R., Card, S., Carey, T., Gasen, J., Mantei, M., Perlman, G., Strong G. & Verplank, W. (1996). ACM SIGCHI Curricula for Human-Computer Interaction. Report of the ACM SIGCHI Curriculum Development Group, ACM. (available at

Johnson, H. & Carruthers, L. (2006). Supporting Creative and Reflective Processes. In the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies (IJHCS), 64, 998-1030.

Jones, J.C. (1970). Design Methods: Seeds of Human Futures. Wiley-Interscience, London, New York.

Mayall, W. H. (1979). Principles of Design. Design Council London.

Preece, J. (1994). Human-Computer Interaction. Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA.

Preece, J., Rogers, Y. & Sharp, H. (2002). Interaction Design: Beyond Human-Computer Interaction. Wiley.

Rasmussen, J., Pejtersen, A. M. & Goodstein, L. P. (1994). Cognitive Systems Engineering. Wiley, New York.

Rittel, H. (1984). Second-Generation Design Methods. In Cross, N. (ed.), Developments in design methodology. John Wiley & Sons, 317-327.

Rosson, M. B., Maass, S. & Kellogg, W. A. (1987) Designing for Designers: An Analysis of Design Practice in the Real World. In the Proceedings of CHI + GI, ACM Press, 137-142.

Schon, D. A. (1983). The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action. Basic Books, New York.

Simon, H. A. (1996). The Sciences of the Artifical (3rd ed.), MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.

Vicente, K. J. (1999). Cognitive Work Analysis: Towards Safe, Productive and Healthy Computer-Based Work. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, NJ.

Wright P. & McCarthy, J. (2004). Technology as Experience. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.

Last modified 25 July 2007 at 2:51 pm by andywarr