interaction design & graphic design

22 May 2006 - 1:53am
8 years ago
6 replies
766 reads
Simon Asselbergs
2005

Hi All,

I work at a company where I am the first Interaction Designer they've ever had. And this company doesn't want me to touch the surface of the graphic design of user interfaces. They are new to interaction design and I feel I have to explain them a lot about my expertise. But they seem not so open to discuss my part of interface design. They seem not be able to understand how the graphic part of interface design and usability are intertwined. So no Photoshop.

I feel a little uneasy in explaining them how these are intertwined, it feels almost to much too explain. How would you explain the difference between graphic design in general and graphic design related to designing user interfaces from a interaction design point of view? How would you explain the importance of the latter? Has anyone has experienced similar situations?

Thanks in advance,

Simon

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Comments

22 May 2006 - 6:16am
Terrence Wood
2006

> I work at a company where I am the first Interaction Designer they've
> ever had. And this company doesn't want me to touch the surface of the
> graphic design of user interfaces.

Interesting... I wish I were a fly on the wall at your interview.

When painting the landscape your job is to determine where the
footpaths are and where the signs go. The graphic designers choose the
color and texture. The developers choose the canvas.

kind regards
Terrence Wood.

22 May 2006 - 4:17am
Adrian Howard
2005

On 22 May 2006, at 07:53, Simon Asselbergs wrote:
[snip]
> I feel a little uneasy in explaining them how these are
> intertwined, it feels almost to much too explain. How would you
> explain the difference between graphic design in general and
> graphic design related to designing user interfaces from a
> interaction design point of view? How would you explain the
> importance of the latter? Has anyone has experienced similar
> situations?

To be slightly contrary...

Who's doing the PS work at the moment? Is anything stopping you
working with them too get the same result?

Of course graphic design is an important part of IxD... but does it
always have to be done by one person?

Cheers,

Adrian

22 May 2006 - 8:46am
Sarah Bloomer
2006

Simon --

My advice is to avoid using words (explanations) and show (demonstrate)
the benefits. You can do this without Photoshop.

There are some simple techniques that you can use to demonstrate the
value of interaction design, and from there you can work on the graphic
design/visual treatment. Start with interaction design, and then tackle
graphic design.

For example, you can write Activity Scenarios which are stories that put
a user type / persona through the act of using your application.
Sometimes I will write one of these and illustrate it with the existing
screens to show how difficult it is to use. I try to write these so that
the interaction design is NOT described, just the user experience.

Then I will do a redesign using wireframes or paper prototypes (all you
need to do interaction design) and then illustrate the same scenario
with the new design. Usually the story is powerful and concrete enough
to show the value.

If you have established some user goals, usability goals, business goals
etc. then you can show how the current design may fall short of these
goals, and how your new design tries to address them.

It sounds like you may not have access to actual users, so you'll have
to do your best to learn about the target users in order to develop a
realistic activity scenario. This could also convince your employers to
give you access to end users.

Later you can demonstrate how graphic design can further enhance the
user experience and usability of the application.

That's how I might tackle it. Forget about Photoshop for the short term.
Do some interaction design. Then show how graphic design can further
enhance the design.

Sarah

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
Sarah Bloomer, Senior Usability Specialist
The MathWorks
3 Apple Hill Drive
Natick, Massachusetts 01760
USA

e. sbloomer at mathworks.com
p. +508-647-7147
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
Simon Asselbergs
Sent: Monday, May 22, 2006 2:53 AM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] interaction design & graphic design

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
material.]

Hi All,

I work at a company where I am the first Interaction Designer they've
ever had. And this company doesn't want me to touch the surface of the
graphic design of user interfaces. They are new to interaction design
and I feel I have to explain them a lot about my expertise. But they
seem not so open to discuss my part of interface design. They seem not
be able to understand how the graphic part of interface design and
usability are intertwined. So no Photoshop.

I feel a little uneasy in explaining them how these are intertwined, it
feels almost to much too explain. How would you explain the difference
between graphic design in general and graphic design related to
designing user interfaces from a interaction design point of view? How
would you explain the importance of the latter? Has anyone has
experienced similar situations?

Thanks in advance,

Simon

--
_______________________________________________

Search for businesses by name, location, or phone number. -Lycos Yellow
Pages

http://r.lycos.com/r/yp_emailfooter/http://yellowpages.lycos.com/default
.asp?SRC=lycos10

________________________________________________________________
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23 May 2006 - 6:06pm
Michael Micheletti
2006

Hi Simon,

Both sides of design need to fire strongly and together for the
application to work well. I have seen some well thought-out information
flows delivered with buttons of mismatched sizes and colors, unaligned
form fields, and clashing color schemes that make it difficult to focus
on the task. And we're all familiar with uber-stylish but sadly
disfunctional websites.

Speaking from personal experience, the practice of graphic design and
that of interaction design are very different. The formal training has
almost no overlap, and I've worked with some fine interaction designers
who had essentially no sense of visual balance or any graphic design
training at all. Some interaction design sites have spawned a sort of
visual school that designer Curt Cloninger calls "htminimalism". The
intellectual write-papers-and-publish-and-be-a-professor side of
interaction design is a very different world from that of the photoshop
gurus who can create consistent backlit illumination schemes for
realistic application skins. The graphic design school I attend off and
on doesn't cover interaction design patterns, web standards, or
accessibility for the disabled, but I learn a ton there about layout and
typography and color schemes.

Many large organizations tend towards hyper-specialization, and perhaps
that is what you are facing. As a lifelong generalist, I usually
approach the problem by politely agreeing to the hard boundaries and
then doing the odd border-bending effort in collaboration with
like-minded souls who just want to get a hot project done. After one or
two surprising category-shattering successes, you are considered a
person who "gets things done" rather than a turf invader. Then life gets
fun :-)

Good luck out there,

Michael Micheletti
At the moment, a combo technical writer, interaction designer, and
graphic designer

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
Simon Asselbergs
Sent: Sunday, May 21, 2006 11:53 PM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] interaction design & graphic design

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
material.]

How would you explain the difference between graphic design in general
and graphic design related to designing user interfaces from a
interaction design point of view? How would you explain the importance
of the latter? Has anyone has experienced similar situations?

24 May 2006 - 2:42pm
Kim Goodwin
2004

Hi, Simon.

I agree with Michael's comment that both disciplines need to work well
together for the design to work. I also agree that there are folks doing
interaction design who lack visual skills, but I have to say that all of
the best interaction designers I've ever worked with were at least
visually literate (just as the best visual interface designers are at
least interaction-literate).

At Cooper, we *do* separate the roles for a few reasons:
Pretty much everyone is better at one discipline than the other
It's hard to be responsible for both aspects of the design (one
inevitably suffers, especially when you're on a deadline)
There's a productive tension between the two--interaction design tends
to focus on the practical (what's the easiest way to get it done?)
whereas graphic design also adds an emotional aspect (and how should
that experience feel?)

Interaction designers have to be good at visualizing systems and
well-versed in usability and interaction design principles and patterns.
Visual interface designers are good at visually clarifying behavior
while communicating brand attributes, and well-versed in graphic and
information design.

As for the difference between "graphic design in general" (by which I
assume you mean primarily print) vs. graphic design for user interfaces,
I would first say that graphic design training in all of the usual
areas--typography, color, layout, line, shape, etc.--is an essential
foundation. However, visual interface design involves:

More constraints (color to some extent, resolution to a great extent,
as well as various platform limitations)

Greater emphasis on information design (wayfinding to an extent, but
especially the visual display of processes, status, and quantitative
data--emphasized in some graphic design schools but not others)

More emphasis on behavior, less on style (some heavily branded Web
sites are still somewhat print-like in their emphasis on brand and
imagery, but applications are much more focused on affordances, clear
hierarchy, etc.)

Content that changes state over time (whereas in graphic design, one
has to covey all the information at once, information in a UI can evolve
or can be revealed over time)

-----Original Message-----

Sent: Tuesday, May 23, 2006 4:06 PM
To: Simon Asselbergs; discuss at ixda.org

Both sides of design need to fire strongly and together for the
application to work well.
<snip>
I've worked with some fine interaction designers
who had essentially no sense of visual balance or any graphic design
training at all.
<snip>

Michael Micheletti
At the moment, a combo technical writer, interaction designer, and
graphic designer

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
Simon Asselbergs
Sent: Sunday, May 21, 2006 11:53 PM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] interaction design & graphic design

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
material.]

How would you explain the difference between graphic design in general
and graphic design related to designing user interfaces from a
interaction design point of view? How would you explain the importance
of the latter? Has anyone has experienced similar situations?
________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
(Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
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Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org

25 May 2006 - 9:39pm
LukeW
2004

> How would you explain the difference between graphic design in
> general and graphic design related to designing user interfaces
> from a interaction design point of view? How would you explain the
> importance of the latter? Has anyone has experienced similar
> situations?

Quoting myself (sorry if some folks have heard this before :), I've
found it useful to explain things this way:

"Think of visual design as the “voice” of interaction design and
information architecture. It communicates the importance of (and
relationships between) the content and actions within an application.
Visual design can be thought of as two interwoven parts: visual
organization and personality. Visual organization utilizes the
principles of perception (how we make sense of what we see) to
construct a visual narrative. Through applications of contrast,
visual designers can communicate the steps required to complete a
task, the relationships between information, or the hierarchy between
interface elements. So clearly visual organization is a key component
for successful interface designs.

Unfortunately, the bulk of discussions about the effectiveness of
visual design don’t focus on visual organization systems. Instead,
they are limited to a subjective analysis of the personality (look
and feel) of an interface. Personality is achieved through a
judicious selection of colors, fonts, patterns, images, and visual
elements designed to communicate a particular message to an audience.
But just about everyone has a color or font preference, so when asked
to evaluate visual design that’s were they turn first.

My advice to interaction designers is to take the time to learn the
principles underlying visual organization. You’ll be better able to
communicate with the visual designers on your team and, more
importantly, with the end users of your product."

::
:: Luke Wroblewski -[ www.lukew.com ]
:: Principal, LukeW Interface Designs
:: luke at lukew.com | 408.879.9826
::

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