I'm reading "The UX Book" by Rex Hartson and Pardha S. Pyla. They describe a general UX design lifecycle consisting of analysis, design, prototyping and evaluation. I'm especially interested in the design phase. According to the book, the design phase includes:

  • ideation, brainstorming
  • development of mental models and conceptual models
  • sketching, storyboards

The design phase produces the interaction features that should be provided to the users. However, apparently the function allocation between human and computer is not questioned in this phase. Function allocation or automation design deals with questions like:

  • how many work does the computer automatically, how many work takes the human manually?
  • how many levels of automation should be offered?
  • should human and computer work separately or cooperatively?

There are many research results in the area of automation design. They deal with several issues like complacency, trust in automation etc.

My question is: Is my observation correct that automation design is currently not considered a part of UX design? In this case: What is the reason - is it because different automation levels are not of concern for most applications?

  • 2
    On page 770 there is a section titled "22.8.3 Automation Issues" which offers some design guidelines.
    – uxzapper
    Apr 17, 2013 at 22:36

3 Answers 3


I think it is quite relevant because if a task can be taken out of the hands for the user, then it is better user experience because the user can focus on the tasks that they need to do. Often there are tasks that can be carried out automatically in the background, but at times it may required user intervention. For example, if you copy documents from one folder to another and there are files with the same name then it requires some user intervention to continue with the command. But even then the process can be semi-automated by the system letting users to apply the same command (e.g. overwrite) to other occurrences instead of having the user to click each time.

When I think about the user interaction design, I take into account of the system and user interaction as a whole, rather than individual functions and features. As I think someone mentioned before, you should design for the experience and not functions, and any implicit or explicit interactions are all part of that experience.


I think "automation design" as you call it is an implicit part of UX design.

If you are designing a system where it is a possibility or option to automate part of the interaction, a designer should take this into account in the design process.


I read somewhere that you should automate all the things that humans are bad at but computers are good at, e.g. maths, knowing the exact time, etc.

So in that sense automation design is part of the user experience.

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