ADMIN: RE: Interaction design vs. Usability -> differences incompetency
20 Jul 2004 - 6:20am
I think it is good to explore the boundaries of our discipline, but I want
to re-iterate one of our founding principles here that it is really
difficult to speak about people and the titles they carry. I'm sure there
are many usability engineers who have to practice interaction design as part
of their role, but that does not mean that usability and interaction design
are not distinct disciplines, which are part of a greater whole.
I would like responses to Dan's message (if any) take that point of view,
that Dan is talking about the discpline and not the people. Usability is but
one part of the puzzle, and interaction design offers views into other parts
of the puzzle as well. Many many practitioners are forced to do many many
roles all at once.
So please don't chime in and say, but "I do a lot more than testing and
other forms of validation."
Well, one main difference is that designers create things. Usability
experts can only test things that are already created. Huge difference
"Usable" is only one third of the (by now almost cliche) design trinity
of usable, useful, and desirable. Designers care about things that
usability folks don't. We have problems to solve (making things useful
and desirable) that simply aren't in the realm of usability and its
This being said, usability experts are great to have around. It's bad
practice to be your own usability tester; you are biased about the
stuff you made and you know how it is supposed to work. It's the reason
you don't typically have developers testing their own code. But you
need to have some clear boundaries about when the usability tester gets
involved in the design process and the type of input they have.
This depends on the people involved, of course. Some usability folks
are well-versed in what we do and respect design. Others, well,
(*cough* Jakob *cough*) need to be educated a little more.