"Design" in Interaction Design?

19 Dec 2007 - 11:43am
6 years ago
48 replies
2553 reads
Lukeisha Carr
2007

After reading a very interesting thread titled "When/Where/How did you decide to be a designer?", I noticed that many came from Art or Graphic Design backgrounds. So...

Would anyone say that one must have an "artsy or visually creative" knack when pursuing "interaction" design, as apposed to "visual" design?

In other words, what do you think is the one or few talents or skills one needs to have to be successful in the IxD arena?

And, for current IxD's out there, do you find that you are also responsible for the "visual aesthetics" of the UI?

Thanks!

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Comments

19 Dec 2007 - 12:50pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Dec 19, 2007, at 9:43 AM, Lukeisha Carr wrote:

> After reading a very interesting thread titled "When/Where/How did
> you decide to be a designer?", I noticed that many came from Art or
> Graphic Design backgrounds. So...
>
> Would anyone say that one must have an "artsy or visually creative"
> knack when pursuing "interaction" design, as apposed to "visual"
> design?

http://designbyfire.com/pdfs/think_center_print.pdf

My take from a talk I gave a few weeks back. The presentation is
about a larger topic, but my current views that answer this question
can be found on pages 25 and 52.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

19 Dec 2007 - 1:07pm
bminihan
2007

I don't know if an art background is required, but it helps. I'm very
split-brained, and often think my analytic and creative sides complement
each other. If I didn't have the creative spark, I think my business
applications would still be highly functional and usable, but may not be as
"pretty", whereas if I didn't constantly ask "how is this going to work?"
and figure things out, I'd create many more unworkable designs. I never had
a different brain, though, so I couldn't say for sure =]

Yes, I am often the creative designer as well as the interaction designer.
I don't actually think creative/aesthetic design is my strength, but hope I
make up for it by delivering more usable systems.

Bryan
http://www.bryanminihan.com

-----Original Message-----
From: Lukeisha Carr
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] "Design" in Interaction Design?

After reading a very interesting thread titled "When/Where/How did you
decide to be a designer?", I noticed that many came from Art or Graphic
Design backgrounds. So...

Would anyone say that one must have an "artsy or visually creative" knack
when pursuing "interaction" design, as apposed to "visual" design?

In other words, what do you think is the one or few talents or skills one
needs to have to be successful in the IxD arena?

And, for current IxD's out there, do you find that you are also responsible
for the "visual aesthetics" of the UI?

Thanks!

19 Dec 2007 - 1:58pm
Fred Beecher
2006

On 12/19/07, Lukeisha Carr <lukeisha.carr at yahoo.com> wrote:

Would anyone say that one must have an "artsy or visually creative" knack
> when pursuing "interaction" design, as apposed to "visual" design?

If that were true I'd be unemployed. : )

In other words, what do you think is the one or few talents or skills one
> needs to have to be successful in the IxD arena?

There are probably more than this, but here are a few off the top of my
head:

- You should have keen powers of observation (for observing how people
do what they do)
- You should have a knack for (or at least an ability to) discerning
patterns in what you observe
- You should be genuinely empathetic, able to put yourself in someone
else's shoes. Or desk chair. Or cockpit. Etc.
- You should be an excellent verbal communicator and a competent
visual communicator (you don't have to be Andy Warhol, Jonathan Ive, etc.,
but you have to be able to get your ideas across)
- You should be able to play well with others
- You should be able to think logically, sequentially
- You should be able to accept and be receptive to feedback

Okay, so most of those are qualities rather than skills, but that's what I
feel is important.

And, for current IxD's out there, do you find that you are also responsible
> for the "visual aesthetics" of the UI?

Again, if I were I'd be getting fired right about now. I can be trusted with
black, white, and shades of gray. Oh, and red. I'm good with red. I can
easily communicate what I need to say within these bounds. Frankly, I would
make a *hideous* visual designer. But what I do do well is to play nicely
with people who *are* visual designers.

I can work with them during the early stages of design to understand where
they're going and communicate where I'm going. I can check in with them
throughout the process. And finally, I can offer critiques on how the visual
design will affect users and their interactions with the system. In this
situation, everyone focuses on their area of expertise, which in my
experience leads to some really great products.

So to address your question more directly, what I'm responsible for visually
is that the visual design facilitates rather than impedes the use of the
system.

- Fred

19 Dec 2007 - 2:01pm
jrrogan
2005

I think the foremost talent needed in being an "Interaction Designer" is the
ability to "Design", defining "Design" as the ability of "creative problem
solving" in "a spacial manner for users".

I think this aspect of "spacial design for users" skill can further be
broken down into the ability to design for systems that are used to perform
tasks, not necessarily designing "pretty pictures", (although being able to
do this as well wouldn't hurt ;)

Often I find people can get "caught up" in thinking the most important skill
needed for Interaction Designer is what I would consider "periphery"
functions, such as "User Testing", "Persona Development", "Advanced Coding
Skills", etc. These may be important, but if you can't "Design", they're not
going to do you much good.

I guess it boils down to being creative and being able to focus this
creativity in the specific arena of "spacial task based design".

19 Dec 2007 - 2:21pm
Dave Malouf
2005

I'm going to avoid the definition of "design" bit here until
someone pours me a nice beer in a pub in Savannah ...

But as to this question ...

A sense and appreciation of aesthetic is a requirement. "artsy" is
a bit random to me. But to be able to look at a Yugo and distinguish
its aesthetic qualities from a mini and understand that they both
define themselves functionally with the word "small" and that's
where they stop to me is a key.

someone said this: "You should be able to think logically,
sequentially"

Yikes!!! that is engineering, not design. In fact it is the ability
to think and connect non-sequentially that is design. (Ok, I got into
a bit of definition war there, and it is up to you not to fall for the
bait.)

Being open to the serendipity and illogical connections that the
natural human free association mind can make to create unique, novel,
and beautiful ideas come to life.

Now getting back to Interaction design.
What separates IxD from other disciplines is that it is behind form
and so many of the craftside of other design disciplines are
important for us to understand as "purists" of interaction design,
but not required.

However (big however) few of us are in a position where we can
complete ignore the making of things as a primary means of
communicating appropriately how it is we want forms to behave.

Cooper often speaks of the dualing roles of designer and design
communicator, but to me the dual should be designer and designer
(interaction designer and ID/Visual/Interactive Designer - your
choice). These 2 roles should be glued to the hip throughout a
project.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=23732

19 Dec 2007 - 2:39pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> - You should have keen powers of observation (for observing how people
> do what they do)
> - You should have a knack for (or at least an ability to) discerning
> patterns in what you observe
> - You should be genuinely empathetic, able to put yourself in someone
> else's shoes. Or desk chair. Or cockpit. Etc.
> - You should be an excellent verbal communicator and a competent
> visual communicator (you don't have to be Andy Warhol, Jonathan Ive,
> etc.,
> but you have to be able to get your ideas across)
> - You should be able to play well with others
> - You should be able to think logically, sequentially
> - You should be able to accept and be receptive to feedback

That is an excellent list. These are definitely the character traits I see
in the best interaction designers.

Frankly, I would
> make a *hideous* visual designer. But what I do do well is to play nicely
> with people who *are* visual designers.

Ditto. I've had plenty of practice, but I'll never be half as good as a real
visual designer.

I can work with them during the early stages of design to understand where
> they're going and communicate where I'm going. I can check in with them
> throughout the process. And finally, I can offer critiques on how the
> visual
> design will affect users and their interactions with the system. In this
> situation, everyone focuses on their area of expertise, which in my
> experience leads to some really great products.

Ditto again. And I strongly believe the aesthetic has a big impact (for the
sighted anyway), so I pay close attention to it.

-r-

19 Dec 2007 - 1:01pm
Jon Bell
2007

And, for current IxD's out there, do you find that you are also
responsible for the "visual aesthetics" of the UI?

When meeting with clients, I tend to say I'm best at handling
everything visually except for the logo and any custom iconography.

And I've often seeing people who primarily specialize in graphic
design, who should probably only be in charge of the logo and
iconography, trying to design complex flow. That usually doesn't
end well.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=23732

19 Dec 2007 - 1:10pm
Jon Bell
2007

[sorry if this appears twice, I think my submission hit a glitch]

And, for current IxD's out there, do you find that you are also
responsible for the "visual aesthetics" of the UI?

When meeting with clients, I tend to say I'm best at handling
everything visually except for the logo and any custom iconography.

And I've often seeing people who primarily specialize in graphic
design, who should probably only be in charge of the logo and
iconography, trying to design complex flow. That usually doesn't
end well.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=23732

19 Dec 2007 - 12:56pm
Nicholas Iozzo
2007

I need to define how I see design inorder to reply. Design is such a vague term.

To be a good designer you need to know how to take the vague and make it substantial. You need to be able to start from infinite possibilities and find the best one which fits your projects constraints and requirements.

This is not a talent, this is a skill you learn. The Art and Design programs are a great way to learn this. But they are not the only way. My background was in mechanical engineering design. But I consider myself a rarity in this field. Engineers are usually more interested in building things.

So I would say most engineers have the design skills to do this, most just have no interest in learning all of the other skills necessary to be a good interaction designer. They would rather focus their design energy in building things then working throught the possibilities on what to build.

Nick Iozzo
Principal User Experience Architect

tandemseven

847.452.7442 mobile

niozzo at tandemseven.com
http://www.tandemseven.com/

From: Lukeisha Carr
Sent: Wed 12/19/2007 11:43 AM
To: IxDA
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] "Design" in Interaction Design?

After reading a very interesting thread titled "When/Where/How did you decide to be a designer?", I noticed that many came from Art or Graphic Design backgrounds. So...

Would anyone say that one must have an "artsy or visually creative" knack when pursuing "interaction" design, as apposed to "visual" design?

In other words, what do you think is the one or few talents or skills one needs to have to be successful in the IxD arena?

And, for current IxD's out there, do you find that you are also responsible for the "visual aesthetics" of the UI?

Thanks!

____________________________________________________________________________________
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19 Dec 2007 - 2:26pm
Nicholas Iozzo
2007

>From Rich Rogan
Often I find people can get "caught up" in thinking the most important skill
needed for Interaction Designer is what I would consider "periphery"
functions, such as "User Testing", "Persona Development", "Advanced Coding
Skills", etc. These may be important, but if you can't "Design", they're not
going to do you much good.

I guess it boils down to being creative and being able to focus this
creativity in the specific arena of "spacial task based design".

_____________________
I agree that that you have to design. But I do not consider everything else you listed as periphery.

I prefer to think of it like a living organism. While the heart and brain are still important, you are not going to live without your lungs, liver, kidneys etc... So while the ability to design is important, if you can not do anything else, then you are a designer on life support (e.g. other members of your team are helping you keep your job).

19 Dec 2007 - 3:12pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Dec 19, 2007, at 12:39 PM, Robert Hoekman, Jr. wrote:

> Ditto. I've had plenty of practice, but I'll never be half as good
> as a real
> visual designer.

I've long hated the term "visual designer." It's really nothing more
than a cop out in this field and I hope people will start to drop it
one of these years.

Practically speaking, anyone who designs interactive software or
digital products needs to be good at the core basics of graphic
design. No ands, ifs or buts about it. This is effectively type,
color and layout. (Layout meaning general composition and the grid.)
There are larger components of graphic design that one should try to
become good at if possible, but are not necessarily required. These
are basically illustration and photography. Illustration leads to
icon design and other visual stylistic elements of a product.
Photography should be pretty well understood. To master either
illustration or photography can take many years if one doesn't have
the raw talent. For those that don't have the raw talent, I can see
where they might not feel comfortable, and thus might attribute
"visual design" to cover all of graphic design instead of segmenting
illustration and photography on their own. For the record, I'm not
that good at illustration outside of my own personal sketching style.
That doesn't mean I don't consider myself a pretty damn good graphic
designer.

Becoming reasonably competent with type, color and layout is -- to be
completely blunt -- quite easy. Mastering it to the likes of a Paul
Rand might take more, but general competency doesn't take massive
amounts of raw talent to achieve a core level of acceptable craft
with these elements. It really only takes a desire to understand how
those three design components work together and a lot of practice
using good graphic design principals every day and with every thing
you touch. This means every memo you write, every blog you design,
every design deliverable you create... all of it should be places
where you are practicing good graphic design to keep the design
muscle in constant use.

In fact, type, color and layout are the easiest components and skills
to master as a designer, especially given the technology that
provides access to implement type, color and layout in the general
work we do every single day.

If you look at my blog, http://www.designbyfire.com, you'll see that
I did very little *except* focus on type, color and layout. While I
like my personal brand, the logo is a small part of the overall
design. The core is nothing more than focusing attention to the color
choices, the type and how the layout works. The javascript fade is
nothing more than an experiment, and one I need to revisit to fix URL
resolution of my content.

But when you look at DxF, you have to notice every single little
detail about these three things because one little change rips the
entire effect apart. Where I use all caps, where I don't. What the
leading value is of my body copy. Where I use color and and where I
don't. What spacing I use before and after paragraphs. How many
characters are used per line. Even the little Bodoni ornaments I use
to end articles or split the title from the date. (One is a rightside
up, the other upside down, a nod to indicate start and end.)

Becoming good at type, color and layout is basically like learning
the guitar or any musical instrument. You have to practice. Period.
No matter what, you ave to practice, practice and practice some more
until it becomes second nature. If you don't, you simply won't get
good at it. Avoiding it, making claims that you are not a "visual
designer" won't help. The good news is that there are tons and tons
of resources available to get started with these three core graphic
design principals.

The even better news is that practicing is easy since you have to
create design deliverables in you every day line of work. There's
really no excuse to avoid it imho.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

19 Dec 2007 - 3:35pm
Fred Beecher
2006

On Wed, 19 Dec 2007 12:21:42, David Malouf <dave at ixda.org> wrote:
>
>
> someone said this: "You should be able to think logically,
> sequentially"
>
> Yikes!!! that is engineering, not design. In fact it is the ability
> to think and connect non-sequentially that is design. (Ok, I got into
> a bit of definition war there, and it is up to you not to fall for the
> bait.)

Erm. If I'm designing an interaction where someone does one thing and
something else responds to that action, then I need to be able to think
logically and sequentially about that. What, based on my understanding of
user needs, etc., will the user expect to happen as a result of this action?
What makes sense to happen next in the context of this activity?

If I couldn't do this, I couldn't be an interaction designer. Maybe that
means that you need to be somewhat of an engineer to design interactions, I
don't know.

But I will grant you that yes, you also need to be able to think beyond the
logical, beyond the sequential toward the big-picture experience. But when
it gets down to the wireframes and the prototypes, you need to know how one
thing flows to another.

- Fred

19 Dec 2007 - 3:55pm
Fred Beecher
2006

On 12/19/07, Andrei Herasimchuk <andrei at involutionstudios.com> wrote:
>
>
> Practically speaking, anyone who designs interactive software or
> digital products needs to be good at the core basics of graphic
> design. No ands, ifs or buts about it. This is effectively type,
> color and layout. (Layout meaning general composition and the grid.)

At first when I read this, I was prepared to dismiss it as half crap. But
then as I began typing my response I realize that much of this is right.

Layout. Yes, of course we need to understand the principles of layout (I
never thought *this* was crap). We need to understand the spatial
relationship of objects in a confined space, how objects can be positioned
so they just look like they belong together, how to place the most important
objects in the most important space, etc. Layout is something we do every
day.

Type. This one I was prepared to dismiss as complete crap, and then I went
over the current wireframes that I'm doing. I use typography all the time,
albeit at a very, very basic level. I design headers with larger type sizes
and often bold. Subheaders are of a smaller type size, still bold. Body text
is... just plain body text. This level of typography is incredibly important
to IxD, as it is often what provides clues to users about what they need to
manipulate in order to interact with the site.

Color. I still think this is half crap. : ) I think we need to understand
enough about color to say that "this thing here needs to stand out and look
clickable." Personally, I can communicate that with black, white, and shades
of gray, and I prefer to leave it to a graphic designer to make it
aesthetically pleasing while remaining usable.

So I'll give you this, Andrei: IxDs need to be moderately to highly
competent in layout and basically competent in typography and color. : )

> Becoming reasonably competent with type, color and layout is -- to be
> completely blunt -- quite easy. Mastering it to the likes of a Paul
> Rand might take more, but general competency doesn't take massive
> amounts of raw talent to achieve a core level of acceptable craft
> with these elements. It really only takes a desire to understand how
> those three design components work together and a lot of practice
> using good graphic design principals every day and with every thing
> you touch. This means every memo you write, every blog you design,
> every design deliverable you create... all of it should be places
> where you are practicing good graphic design to keep the design
> muscle in constant use.

As I think about it, the reason I was at first prepared to dismiss this is
because I *do* do this stuff every day... to the point where I don't think
about it. It's crucial to communication. In fact, if I reach back deep into
the mists of time... I have actually taken classes in "document design" and
the like when I was studying technical writing. It was these classes (and
those Robin Williams [not the actor] books) that gave me those basic
competencies.

The fact that I run screaming from the label "visual designer" even though I
do basic visual design every day tells me something. I'm not exactly sure
what, though. : ) Is it that what I'm doing is basic communication and
"visual design" is communication plus something else? Creating a mood,
conveying an image, etc.? It sounds like an interesting question of
definition.

Sorry Dave. : )

- Fred

19 Dec 2007 - 4:25pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Dec 19, 2007, at 1:55 PM, Fred Beecher wrote:

> Color. I still think this is half crap. : ) I think we need to
> understand
> enough about color to say that "this thing here needs to stand out
> and look
> clickable." Personally, I can communicate that with black, white,
> and shades
> of gray, and I prefer to leave it to a graphic designer to make it
> aesthetically pleasing while remaining usable.

If you want some good introductions and tools into how to construct
good color palettes, either ColorSchemer or Adobe Kuler.

http://colorschemer.com/
http://kuler.adobe.com/

Both these tools follow all the design principals for finding colors
that work together. Take advantage of them.

Also, in case people don't know, many graphic designers use all sorts
of shortcuts to deal with finding good color palettes. These two
software tools are one, but I have a library of "Designer's Guide to
Color" books that are nothing more than thousands and thousands of
predefined color palettes. Then there's also using photographs to
find color that works in nature.

http://www.boxesandarrows.com/view/
natural_selections_colors_found_in_nature_and_interface_design

> So I'll give you this, Andrei: IxDs need to be moderately to highly
> competent in layout and basically competent in typography and
> color. : )

Yay! A convert!

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

19 Dec 2007 - 4:31pm
Katie Albers
2005

>On Dec 19, 2007, at 12:39 PM, Robert Hoekman, Jr. wrote:
>
>> Ditto. I've had plenty of practice, but I'll never be half as good
>> as a real
>> visual designer.
>
>I've long hated the term "visual designer." It's really nothing more
>than a cop out in this field and I hope people will start to drop it
>one of these years.
>
>Practically speaking, anyone who designs interactive software or
>digital products needs to be good at the core basics of graphic
>design. No ands, ifs or buts about it. This is effectively type,
>color and layout. (Layout meaning general composition and the grid.)

And there you have the reason for the persistence of the term "visual
designer".

What do you mean by "Core basics" do you mean that I know what they
are or that I can combine them in the optimal -- or approximately
optimal -- fashion (the latter is what people generally mean). I can
tell you a typeface is illegible or too small or makes an element too
prominent. I can tell you that the colors are detracting from the
purpose rather than supporting it. I can tell you that the layout is
too busy, too complex, or too simple for the purpose. I can usefully
and accurately critique design. But (oooo! Look! a "but") if (with
the "if" right after the "but"!) you let me create the visual design,
you will regret it...and (so...there's the and!) you will end up with
an unattractive, mechanistically appropriate appearance. I recommend
against it.

I know *enough* about the issues involved in the visual side of
things that I can usefully interact with them and both give and
accept valid criticism and I know what I don't know and am not
qualified to critique. I know *enough* about the issues involved in
coding. I know *enough* about the issues of product management...and
so on. I expect that the team I will work with will be similarly
broad with a deep and complementary specialty and able to usefully
participate in the give and take and compromise that creates the
result - whatever that may be.

Katie
--

------------------
Katie Albers
User Experience Consulting & Project Management
katie at firstthought.com

19 Dec 2007 - 4:55pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Dec 19, 2007, at 2:31 PM, Katie Albers wrote:

> What do you mean by "Core basics" do you mean that I know what they
> are or that I can combine them in the optimal -- or approximately
> optimal -- fashion (the latter is what people generally mean). I
> can tell you a typeface is illegible or too small or makes an
> element too prominent. I can tell you that the colors are
> detracting from the purpose rather than supporting it. I can tell
> you that the layout is too busy, too complex, or too simple for the
> purpose. I can usefully and accurately critique design.

The only way you can do any of those things to "accurately" critique
design is if you know *why* those things don't work. To know the why,
you have to know the core design principals. Otherwise, your
critiques are based on personal opinion.

> But (oooo! Look! a "but") if (with the "if" right after the "but"!)
> you let me create the visual design, you will regret it...and
> (so...there's the and!) you will end up with an unattractive,
> mechanistically appropriate appearance.

Every single graphic designer I know has started at that point. The
only thing separating you from "the visual designers" is that they
practiced, kept at it, learned from what worked and what didn't, and
have done so year over year. The ones with raw talent just get there
faster. Others still get there.

Type is fundamental to clear communication.
Color is fundamental to emotional experience.
Layout and composition are crucial to enabling human understanding
and use.

Communication, emotions and understanding are all critical to our
work. To avoid learning how to do these things with your own two
hands because you feel you are not good at them is simply not a good
reason, imho.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

19 Dec 2007 - 5:48pm
Katie Albers
2005

At 2:55 PM -0800 12/19/07, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:
>On Dec 19, 2007, at 2:31 PM, Katie Albers wrote:
>
>> What do you mean by "Core basics" do you mean that I know what they
>> are or that I can combine them in the optimal -- or approximately
>> optimal -- fashion (the latter is what people generally mean). I
>> can tell you a typeface is illegible or too small or makes an
>> element too prominent. I can tell you that the colors are
>> detracting from the purpose rather than supporting it. I can tell
>> you that the layout is too busy, too complex, or too simple for the
>> purpose. I can usefully and accurately critique design.
>
>The only way you can do any of those things to "accurately" critique
>design is if you know *why* those things don't work. To know the why,
>you have to know the core design principals. Otherwise, your
>critiques are based on personal opinion.

Respectfully...Nonsense. I am perfectly capable of saying "My
attention is immediately drawn to this element, which is supposed to
be relatively unimportant, by the 48 pt type." without ever having
selected a type face. I know that pale grey 8 pt type isn't legible
and that a central, large, textual content area is going to make the
site look like an undifferentiated fog which will lose users (I'm not
making these examples up, incidentally). I know that a page
consisting of a title box at the top with nothing input areas below
can all be on a single page for a data-entry operator (in fact, they
generally prefer it) but will never work on a consumer Web Site. I
don't care how the design meets the requirements, as long as it does.
If the design pulls my attention through the page properly,
emphasizes what needs to be emphasized; is legible to its audience
then I don't care how the designer achieves that. If they can do it
by changing typeface when I think the problem is layout...that's fine
by me.

It isn't as though I've never worked with a visual designer. And I
have let them school me in what kinds of feedback are useful and what
kinds are not. And they have all pronounced me to be one of the best
critics that they have worked with. If anyone -- besides a person who
has never met or worked with me -- had expressed discontent or
disdain, I might reconsider. But under the circumstances, I have no
intention of doing so.

I've been doing Web based usability (or user experience - choose your
preferred term) since 1993; interaction design since 1995. Earlier, I
did what we would now call interaction design and usability on
software from 1980. At no time have I felt lacking on the visual side
of the equation (Okay, I'll grant you, there isn't a lot of
complexity involved in the visual design of an application that will
rely on command-line controls and display on a black screen with
green print.)

I think your critique is based on personal opinion and on your own
history in the field. It's possible that everyone except all the
people I've worked with thinks you're right and I'm wrong. I really
doubt it though.

Katie

--

------------------
Katie Albers
User Experience Consulting & Project Management
katie at firstthought.com

20 Dec 2007 - 3:14am
Lucy Buykx
2007

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Hash: SHA1

Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> But when you look at DxF, you have to notice every single little
> detail about these three things because one little change rips the
> entire effect apart. Where I use all caps, where I don't. What the
> leading value is of my body copy. Where I use color and and where I
> don't. What spacing I use before and after paragraphs. How many
> characters are used per line. Even the little Bodoni ornaments I use
> to end articles or split the title from the date. (One is a rightside
> up, the other upside down, a nod to indicate start and end.)

With the greatest of respest Andrei because it does look lovely, you are
designing for the web so you cannot control how people see your lovely
web page. For example I find the contrast between pale gray and yellow
is too low for me to read comfortably so I up the font size twice which
makes the font much denser and throws your page into wide horizontal
scroll. The footer depth then becomes a major issue because I can only
see about 12 lines of text in my browser.

I'm not complaining. Your layout and design means that my particular
viewing preferences are very gracefully accommodated when compared to
the vast majority of websites. But the key thing about the web is that
it is not a printed brochure. You can't get too precious about
typography when your readers can change it without your control.

Lucy
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20 Dec 2007 - 3:31am
Lucy Buykx
2007

I too noticed the large number of graphics and arts backgrounds in the
'how did you get here thread'. But what struck me was how few (I
think only one) who mentioned any psychology studies.

When I started my degree I studied alongside working as a computer
programmer. It seemed self evident there would be people working in
the cross over between the disciplines. Humans interact with
computers so we need to understand both in order to make the
experience for both better.

The single psych reference against 90% arts/graphic design confirms
my experience that psychologists are not pushed (or pulled) towards
this incredibly important field.

Since most of the participants on this list I have to ask this
question of the people you work with. How many of your colleagues
have studied psychology? Is it considered important or are psych
degrees to general to be of use?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=23732

20 Dec 2007 - 6:26am
Murli Nagasundaram
2007

Rich, I would respectfully disagree. The foremost talent needed in being an
INTERACTION designer is the ability to understand, codify, structure and
support INTERACTIONS between humans and interactive artifacts (and between
humans THROUGH interactive artifacts). Plus the talent to design things,
which involves creativity and problem solving skills. Plus insight.
- murli

On 12/20/07, Rich Rogan <jrrogan at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> I think the foremost talent needed in being an "Interaction Designer" is
> the
> ability to "Design", defining "Design" as the ability of "creative problem
> solving" in "a spacial manner for users".
>
> --
murli nagasundaram, ph.d. | www.murli.com | murli at murli.com | +91 99 02 69
69 20

- The reason why death sticks so closely to life isn't biological necessity
-- it's envy. Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a
jealous possessive love that grabs at what it can. - Yann Martel, The Life
of Pi.

20 Dec 2007 - 6:27am
Lucy Buykx
2007

Oh my, apologies for the dreadful spelling and grammar in the last
post. The last para should read

"Since most of the participants *do not have psychology background,*
I have to ask this question of the people you work with. How many of
your colleagues have studied psychology? *Do you consider psychology*
important or are psych degrees *too* general to be of use?"

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=23732

20 Dec 2007 - 6:40am
Murli Nagasundaram
2007

Lucy, I'm glad you brought up the issue of psych. I actually arrived on
Planet IxD via psych/computer science (after my basic training as a
mechanical engineer). I have always thought of IxD as being driven first by
psych/social psych/anthropology and only then by the visual arts. A year
and a half ago I met a talented young psych undergrad who loved designing
websites (to pay his way) but had never heard of IxD. I grabbed him by both
shoulders, put him through a couple of courses, and now he is in a great
grad school program pursuing an HCI degree.
- murli

On Thu, 20 Dec 2007 01:31:44, Lucy Buykx <lucy.buykx at eaudomainia.com> wrote:
>
> I too noticed the large number of graphics and arts backgrounds in the
> 'how did you get here thread'. But what struck me was how few (I
> think only one) who mentioned any psychology studies.
>
> When I started my degree I studied alongside working as a computer
> programmer. It seemed self evident there would be people working in
> the cross over between the disciplines. Humans interact with
> computers so we need to understand both in order to make the
> experience for both better.
>
> The single psych reference against 90% arts/graphic design confirms
> my experience that psychologists are not pushed (or pulled) towards
> this incredibly important field.
>
> Since most of the participants on this list I have to ask this
> question of the people you work with. How many of your colleagues
> have studied psychology? Is it considered important or are psych
> degrees to general to be of use?
>

--
murli nagasundaram, ph.d. | www.murli.com | murli at murli.com | +91 99 02 69
69 20

20 Dec 2007 - 8:10am
bminihan
2007

Not to be a stickler for semantics, but I don't think you can equate "lack
of psychology studies" with "inability to understand, empathize and study
human behavior and motivations". I'm a cartoonist (my "art background"),
but it wasn't my major, Computer Science was. Similarly, I have always had
a knack for looking at problems from other people's perspective, empathizing
with their condition, and solving problems that make people happy. That
doesn't earn me a psychology degree by any means, but I wouldn't say I have
no psychology background - I'd think you need some sense of "how other
people tick" to do this work, at all.

To answer your question, I seem to remember knowing more psych-degreed
people when I was in tech support, than in software design. I don't
actually work closely with very many designers, though.

Bryan
http://www.bryanminihan.com

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Lucy
Buykx

I too noticed the large number of graphics and arts backgrounds in the
'how did you get here thread'. But what struck me was how few (I
think only one) who mentioned any psychology studies.

Since most of the participants on this list I have to ask this
question of the people you work with. How many of your colleagues
have studied psychology? Is it considered important or are psych
degrees to general to be of use?

20 Dec 2007 - 10:19am
Michael Micheletti
2006

I started in the code world and have gradually worked my way up the stack
into interaction design, documentation, visual design. At various points
along the way I'd take deep dives into one area that I wanted to get
stronger in. I was a strong web coder, but wanted to understand visual
design better, so I went back to school and took night classes in graphic
design, and then practiced this craft. I'd create symbols and icons at work,
and design websites in my volunteer work. A couple of years ago I started
thinking that I needed a bit more of an academic perspective on the
interaction design craft so I went back to grad school evenings.

Funny now I've turned almost full circle, having become a strong visual
designer for application skins and an informed interaction designer, but a
bit rusty on Javascript. Just took advantage of the O'Reilly sale at
Bookpool to order newer editions of longtime favorite client-side coding
reference books - time to brush up.

I kind of expect that this is what life in the interaction design craft
looks like from now on: starting from a core of strength, branching out,
learning new things, re-grounding in your core domain when you need to. But
always learning, always growing.

As for artsy, I've been around arts and artists all my life (my mother was
one, my wife teaches art) but my background is music. Strange but true
story: when I took my first drawing class a few years ago, I wasn't sure
which hand I drew with. I'm sort of weirdly ambidextrous (write
right-handed, mouse left, power tools left, hand tools right, piano
both...). My teacher was patient with me. We liked the flow of my drawings
left-handed, but I was a bit more accurate right-handed. Still can't draw
freehand for beans though, and am ever so thankful for the fabulous
assistive technologies of Photoshop, Illustrator, and Visio. The big
carry-over from my music background was that daily practice improves your
abilities, so I make time to do something in Photoshop every day.

Michael Micheletti

On Dec 19, 2007 9:43 AM, Lukeisha Carr <lukeisha.carr at yahoo.com> wrote:

> Would anyone say that one must have an "artsy or visually creative" knack
> when pursuing "interaction" design, as apposed to "visual" design?
>
> In other words, what do you think is the one or few talents or skills one
> needs to have to be successful in the IxD arena?
>

20 Dec 2007 - 10:31am
Michael Micheletti
2006

I haven't run into many folks with psych backgrounds in the design or coding
worlds. Many more artists, musicians, mathematicians, academics. I've heard
of sociologists and anthropologists, but haven't worked with them
personally.

Where I worked with people with psych degrees years ago: bucking rivets on
the wing line at the airplane factory. Swing shift. I was ok with the idea
of musicians having crummy jobs to pay the rent, but folks with masters
degrees? Got some good book recommendations though during breaks, when the
insane noise quietened enough where we could actually hear each other speak.

Michael Micheletti

On Thu, 20 Dec 2007 04:27:07, Lucy Buykx <lucy.buykx at eaudomainia.com> wrote:

> "Since most of the participants *do not have psychology background,*
> I have to ask this question of the people you work with. How many of
> your colleagues have studied psychology? *Do you consider psychology*
> important or are psych degrees *too* general to be of use?"
>

20 Dec 2007 - 10:34am
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> I haven't run into many folks with psych backgrounds in the design or
> coding
> worlds. Many more artists, musicians, mathematicians, academics.

I've seen a few designers with Psych degrees, but I've seen far more of them
doing Usability work.

-r-

20 Dec 2007 - 7:26am
Eric Gauvin
2007

As for the heart/head dichotomy, I'm ultimately guided by the heart.
It's strange. There are mountains of logical decisions and reasons
for doing the littlest things that all lead up to an infusion of life
and emotional satisfaction. Come to think of it, users usually relate
to a UI on a very emotional level too.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=23732

20 Dec 2007 - 9:40am
Eva Kaniasty
2007

Bryan, with all due respect, I think there is a big difference
between the 'ability to empathize with human behavior' and a
structured background in psychology, especially the cognitive side.
What has bothered me about the Nielsen thread is the patronizing
attitude that graphic designers have special magical skills that the
rest of us could never understand, while the user experience people
have the easy job of testing and maybe some understanding of pop
psychology that's quite commonsense to begin with.

I think that what we need to maintain our credibility as professionals
are solid arguments for why we do (or dare I say why we design) things
a certain way, and arguments like 'I can empathize with users' or 'I
have the magic touch' just don't cut it.

Lucy, to answer your question, in my experience, a pretty large
percentage of human factors professionals (many of whom do work as IAs
and interaction designers, as well as user researchers) have
psychology in their background. It is probably one of the four most
common paths to the profession - the other being programming, graphic
design, and documentation.

-eva

--
http://www.linkedin.com/in/kaniasty

20 Dec 2007 - 11:06am
bminihan
2007

Yes, there is a big difference. I didn't say they were the same, but just
as there are good graphic designers without design degrees, good developers
without comp-sci degrees, and good neurosurgeons without...well
erm...anyway, there are good interaction designers without psych degrees.

I don't argue the point that psych-degreed professionals lend credibility to
our practice. I countered the notion that artists without psych degrees are
solely in the "creative realm" and have no understanding of psychology. I
don't think Lucy was trying to say that, but if she was I felt it needed a
counter-point.

To the credibility point, I base the majority of my design decisions on
credible evidence from careful user studies, 15 years experience working
with people and their interactions with computers, and sound, supported
research when needed (from psychology, no less). In this forum, I used the
shorthand "I can empathize" because I'm not justifying a design decision,
I'm responding to a post. The idea that you have to have a psychology
degree to make sound design decisions is a little silly. As a whole, our
credibility is measured by the quality and effectiveness of our work - I get
paid (well) for that, and not for my contribution to the credibility of my
profession.

I also agree with you that most of the usability/human factors folks I know
have a strong psychology education.

Bryan
http://www.bryanminihan.com

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Eva
Sent: Thursday, December 20, 2007 10:40 AM
To: IxDA
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] "Design" in Interaction Design?

Bryan, with all due respect, I think there is a big difference
between the 'ability to empathize with human behavior' and a
structured background in psychology, especially the cognitive side.
What has bothered me about the Nielsen thread is the patronizing
attitude that graphic designers have special magical skills that the
rest of us could never understand, while the user experience people
have the easy job of testing and maybe some understanding of pop
psychology that's quite commonsense to begin with.

I think that what we need to maintain our credibility as professionals
are solid arguments for why we do (or dare I say why we design) things
a certain way, and arguments like 'I can empathize with users' or 'I
have the magic touch' just don't cut it.

Lucy, to answer your question, in my experience, a pretty large
percentage of human factors professionals (many of whom do work as IAs
and interaction designers, as well as user researchers) have
psychology in their background. It is probably one of the four most
common paths to the profession - the other being programming, graphic
design, and documentation.

-eva

20 Dec 2007 - 12:09pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Dec 20, 2007, at 1:14 AM, Lucy Buykx wrote:

> With the greatest of respest Andrei because it does look lovely,
> you are
> designing for the web so you cannot control how people see your lovely
> web page.

With all due respect back, this is a red herring.

Its of no use to take the mindset that some small fraction of people
will change their browser style settings and break the layout,
therefore even attempting to practice good graphic design skills is
not useful.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

20 Dec 2007 - 12:08pm
Jeff Seager
2007

I don't think a Psych degree per se is essential, but a genuine interest in human psychology would be very useful.

One of my longtime friends is a clinical psychologist, and I gain important insights from her occasionally about all sorts of things, including interaction design. I also was briefly enaged to a true sociopath (narcissistic and borderline personality disorder), and the consequences of that experience led me into some fairly extensive explorations of what is "normal" and what is not in human behavior, and how some people succeed extremely well at manipulating others to meet their own needs. That had only a little to do with interaction design, perhaps, but a lot to do with understanding the vast diversity of human experience.

I think sincere interest and experience will always be more important than a
specific degree or training, but I think it's important for
interaction designers to understand the hows and whys of critical
thinking and scientific method. You would learn that as a psych major, but also as an engineer or geologist, and I learned it in high school with pretty strong reinforcement in both social science and natural science classes in college.

I see a lot of sloppy, uncritical thinking applied everywhere these days. Critical thinking skills are crucially important to this work, along with (as I mentioned before) imagination and humility -- humility being needed to understand that somebody else's solution may very well be more desirable than your own.

Jeff Seager

> To: discuss at ixda.org
> From: lucy.buykx at eaudomainia.com
> Date: Thu, 20 Dec 2007 04:27:07 +0000
> Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] "Design" in Interaction Design?
>
> Oh my, apologies for the dreadful spelling and grammar in the last
> post. The last para should read
>
> "Since most of the participants *do not have psychology background,*
> I have to ask this question of the people you work with. How many of
> your colleagues have studied psychology? *Do you consider psychology*
> important or are psych degrees *too* general to be of use?"
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=23732
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

_________________________________________________________________
Don't get caught with egg on your face. Play Chicktionary!
http://club.live.com/chicktionary.aspx?icid=chick_wlhmtextlink1_dec

20 Dec 2007 - 3:11pm
jrrogan
2005

Just curious on how many people don't think being good at "Design", (given
you're designing in an IxD space), isn't the single most important skill
needed to be a successful Interaction Designer?

I believe it is fair to say that if you were an "Interaction Designer", and
you only did one thing, that thing would have to be to "create/design"
software screens/widgets/websites, and this would probably make you an
Interaction designer, or you could add this title to one of your roles.

If you didn't "create/design" anything, such as designing software screens
or websites, what type of "Interaction Designer" would you be?

Having a Psychology degree/ CS BA, what ever degree, or being incredibly
empathetic, understanding everything, being "rocking good at Personas"
aren't going to make you an "Interaction Designer" without "Designing", and
may not get you or anyone else any closer to a good design, if no one has a
proficiency "TO" design.

Thus I believe that the most important talent needed to be a successful
Interaction Designer is "The ability to design", with design defined as
"creative problem solving" in "a spatial manner for users, in order that
these users can successfully execute tasks"

It seems in our discipline the ability to "design" is shockingly placed
below other skills as necessary to do our jobs, and this is one of the main
reasons we have "Bad" software and websites.

Given Murli's comments, many of which I agree with as they are part of
"design", just not labeled as such by Murli, if you break his comments down
for "foremost needed talents" to be a successful "Interaction Designer":

1.1. The ability to understand INTERACTIONS between humans and/through
interactive

artifacts - You can understand something very well, but this in no way
guarantees you can design a solution for that problem.

1.2. The ability to codify between humans and/through interactive

artifacts - "organization" IS part of design

1.3. The ability to structure INTERACTIONS between humans and/through
interactive

artifacts - "Structuring" IS part of design

1.4. The ability to support INTERACTIONS between humans and/through
interactive

artifacts - Support can be important, but do you believe it is "THE MOST"
important aspect of being an Interaction Designer?

2.1. Plus the talent to design things, which involves creativity and problem
solving skills. - You've mentioned 2 aspects of design which are your # 1.2and
1.3 points, I believe this means you find Design to be at least the 2nd most
important aspect, (behind understanding, which on it's own wouldn't get you
any product at all)

2.2. Plus insight. - and insight is what we're all really trying to find
here ;)

> the ability to understand, codify, structure and
> support INTERACTIONS between humans and interactive artifacts (and between
> humans THROUGH interactive artifacts). Plus the talent to design things,
> which involves creativity and problem solving skills. Plus insight.
> - murli
>
> On 12/20/07, Rich Rogan <jrrogan at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > I think the foremost talent needed in being an "Interaction Designer" is
> > the
> > ability to "Design", defining "Design" as the ability of "creative
> problem
> > solving" in "a spacial manner for users".
> >

20 Dec 2007 - 5:52pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Dec 20, 2007, at 1:11 PM, Rich Rogan wrote:

> It seems in our discipline the ability to "design" is shockingly
> placed
> below other skills as necessary to do our jobs, and this is one of
> the main
> reasons we have "Bad" software and websites.

Bingo.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

20 Dec 2007 - 5:53pm
Katie Albers
2005

At 4:11 PM -0500 12/20/07, Rich Rogan wrote:
>Just curious on how many people don't think being good at "Design", (given
>you're designing in an IxD space), isn't the single most important skill
>needed to be a successful Interaction Designer?

Here's the Random House definition of "design" (courtesy of Dictionary.com)

de·sign [di-zahyn] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
-verb (used with object) 1. to prepare the
preliminary sketch or the plans for (a work to be
executed), esp. to plan the form and structure
of: to design a new bridge.
2. to plan and fashion artistically or skillfully.
3. to intend for a definite purpose: a
scholarship designed for foreign students.
4. to form or conceive in the mind;
contrive; plan: The prisoner designed an
intricate escape.
5. to assign in thought or intention; purpose: He designed to be a doctor.
6. Obsolete. to mark out, as by a sign; indicate.

-verb (used without object) 7. to make drawings,
preliminary sketches, or plans.
8. to plan and fashion the form and
structure of an object, work of art, decorative
scheme, etc.

-noun 9. an outline, sketch, or plan, as
of the form and structure of a work of art, an
edifice, or a machine to be executed or
constructed.
10. organization or structure of formal
elements in a work of art; composition.
11. the combination of details or features of
a picture, building, etc.; the pattern or motif
of artistic work: the design on a bracelet.
12. the art of designing: a school of design.
13. a plan or project: a design for a new process.
14. a plot or intrigue, esp. an underhand,
deceitful, or treacherous one: His political
rivals formulated a design to unseat him.
15. designs, a hostile or aggressive project
or scheme having evil or selfish motives: He had
designs on his partner's stock.
16. intention; purpose; end.
17. adaptation of means to a preconceived end.

[Origin: 1350-1400; ME designen < L désigna¯re to mark out. See de-, sign]

-Synonyms 5. See intend. 13. See plan.Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006

So, the question is: What do you mean by "design"?

Katie

P.S. Apologies to all those of you who are now
beating your screens and screaming "Not this
question again!"
--

----------------
Katie Albers
katie at firstthought.com

20 Dec 2007 - 2:56pm
Lukeisha Carr
2007

Seeing Graphic Design or Art backgrounds was a surprise to me because
as I do research on how to prepare to enter the ID/UX arena, there
are quite a lot of references (mostly in job posts) to education in
cognitive learning (Psyc), or HCI which has Psyc courses in it's
curriculum. And some even ask for PHD's in Psyc. But, it seems
that no matter how you all arrived there, you all have been
successful in obtaining & maintaining your IxD careers.

I guess the key requirement is having the desire to make the users
happy by making their tasks as intuitive & quick as possible. In
other words, the app can do exactly what it is supposed to and look
great, but if it is hard to use, users/product customers may either
reject it or often complain. And I'm further guesing that "how"
an IxD comes up with the solutions for remedies is not important as
long as the problems gets solved. Please correct me if I'm off
base.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=23732

21 Dec 2007 - 11:00am
Murli Nagasundaram
2007

Rich, placing something second on a "list of firsts", if you will, doesn't
mean one can do without it. It's something like asking, "What's the single
most important organ in the human body", and no matter what anybody answers,
you can always claim, "but how could you ever live without X, so obviously,
you're wrong"? So the problem lies either with the question, "What's the
single most important ....? (since you can never accomplish anything at all
with that single thing), or with taking such a question literally; if you're
going ask, 'What's the single most important ...?" you've got to accept that
it doesn't mean it is the only one that's needed at all.

I was attempting to make a distinction between Design in general, which, as
Katie Albers has pointed out, means a gazillion different things, and the
more specific sort of design called "interaction" design. What makes an
INTERACTION designer different from, say, a Fashion Designer, Subterranean
Septic Tank Designer, or Homing Missile Designer is the emphasis on
INTERACTION; the fact you engage in a conversation with the thing; it
responds and changes, and thereby influences your behavior. That's it.

Single Most Important is not the same as Only; to treat it as such would be
turn this into a strawman argument. Nobody in their right mind would claim
that Design is not important for Design; this forum is called IxDA for a
reason, and we take Design to be a baseline.

Cheers,

Murli

21 Dec 2007 - 3:59pm
Katie Albers
2005

The definition issues keep coming up in this forum, not surprisingly.
What this field is called, what its practitioners are called and who
is or is not in the field has been under active debate for a very
long time. I've seen people working in this area of interaction who I
think would be generally acknowledged as legitimate participants in
this forum and who have held these titles:

Interactive Design Engineer, HCI Strategist, Interaction Architect,
User Experience Developer, Human Factors Specialist, Interaction
Analyst, and many others

I'm including here only those whose responsibility focuses on
creating and executing interactions within an application (for lack
of a better term) -- not those who are pure theorists nor those who
are pure graphic designers nor those who are pure coders...etc.

and I can't help wondering whether we might be able to have more
common ground in our discussions if we took a step back and focused
our definitions on a different level, rather than debating what may
be lower-level details. I know the first rule I learned about
defining things in second grade was that you aren't allowed to use
the word in the definition of the word. In that spirit, I submit:

Interaction Design is the creation and definition of elements and
processes that allow a human being to use an object effectively. This
frequently, though not always, include creating visual elements,
definitions of paths, resolution of technical issues, questions of
usability, and standardizing navigational requirements, as well as
many other aspects.

Katie
--

----------------
Katie Albers
katie at firstthought.com

21 Dec 2007 - 5:09pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Katie,
A few thoughts ...
1) since the beginning of this virutal community we have come back to
debates like these time and time again. We always will so long as a
few things continue.
a) People concentrate on what they DO instead of on the discipline
and theory as the core of the conversation and THEN move from there
towards methods, processes and practice.
b) People concentrate on their own job titles as the basis of
defining disciplines.

2)I'd like to point people to Robert Reimann's definition of
Interaction Design that he crafted with Jody Forlizzi (@CMU)

Interaction Design is ...

A design discipline dedicated to:
Defining the behavior of artifacts, environments, and systems (i.e.,
products)

%u2026and therefore concerned with:
Anticipating how use of the products will mediate human relationships
and affect human understanding

Guiding the form of products to the extent that it influences/is
influenced by their behavior and use

I'm not saying it is perfect, but, it had a few elements that are
important for this discussion.

1) "design discipline" - What does this mean.
a) It is an ARTISTIC craft connected to aesthetics.
b) It is a value driven process where function is valued within the
aesthetic forms made manifest
c) It is focused on design education processes and not those of
engineering or science. (not exclusive, but focused)

2) It guides FORM. To Andrei's points (and others, interactions
cannot exist with the forms and spaces we create to embody the
potentiality for those interactions

3) It is tied to human beings; and thus human social sciences and
their methods will forever be important data points to aid in the
design of interactions.

Titles are meaningless to the above. And there are many many many
people who DO interaction design w/o ever hearing of the discipline.
Just like early newspaper publishers did graphic design and why we
learn so much from Comics, movies, games, etc.

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=23732

21 Dec 2007 - 5:20pm
Jack L. Moffett
2005

Exquisitely put, Dave! That post was the perfect end to my final work
day before the holidays.

Happy holidays to all that observe them, and best wishes to everyone
else.

Jack

Jack L. Moffett
Interaction Designer
inmedius
412.459.0310 x219
http://www.inmedius.com

The details are not the details.
They make the design.

-Charles Eames

21 Dec 2007 - 10:14pm
Paul Eisen
2007

Dave Malouf said

> I'd like to point people to Robert Reimann's definition of Interaction

> Design that he crafted with Jody Forlizzi (@CMU)

<snip>
> I'm not saying it is perfect, but, it had a few elements that are
> important for this discussion.

> 1) "design discipline" - What does this mean.
> a) It is an ARTISTIC craft connected to aesthetics.
> b) It is a value driven process where function is valued within the
> aesthetic forms made manifest
> c) It is focused on design education processes and not those of
> engineering or science. (not exclusive, but focused)

I've been scanning this thread for a while; and I can't confess to
having absorbed every idea. But it's clear to me from this posting and
others that there is a broader view of "interaction design" than
captured in this viewpoint. I have spent many hours designing human
interaction with computer-based products and systems *primarily* by
structuring and choreographing information and control elements to meet
users' cognitive and task needs. *Secondarily* I have focused on form,
layout, and aesthetics. (For the latter characteristic, I have most
often relying on more skilled visual artists than myself.) Perhaps this
emphasis is due to the types of systems and software I have designed,
leaning heavily on user transactions and data management, manipulation,
and communication.

I'm inspired to see the breadth of skills and viewpoints that can
contribute to making this young discipline come of age. We all share a
common goal, and will no doubt benefit from continued discussions about
our craft as it evolves. I look forward to gaining more insights in
Savannah.

Paul Eisen
Principal User Experience Architect

tandemseven
peisen at tandemseven.com
http://www.tandemseven.com

22 Dec 2007 - 9:46pm
Dave Malouf
2005

But Paul, you missed the first part of the post, that says its not
about individual tasks, but about a defined discipline. Graphic
designers in some organizations do everything you describe, or
better, I also do project management and contract negotiations, but
that doesn't mean they are part of the discipline of interaction
design.

When trying to define a discipline as opposed to a set of roles for
completing a job, you need to take YOU out of the equation.

Why?

B/c at TandemSeven a "User Experience Architect" (no-less) does all
the things you mentioned, but a "Human Interface Engineer" or a
"User Interface Developer" may share have a completely different
set of tasks, where a sub-set overlay against yours.

A back and forth debate where people constantly say, "But I DO
this" will never lead to a cohesive and coherent definition of a
discipline.

We must acknowledge the interaction design is being born out of other
practice and quite frankly other communities, and in so doing will
will HAVE to have overlap with those practices and communities.

What is powerful about all this is that interaction design as a
distinct discipline (not practice) informs form-making in a valuable
way. Of course, as practitioners we do more ... but that is that we
do MORE than interaction design. That's why you have the great title
of User Experience Architect, not Information Architect, or
Information System Designer, or Researcher, etc. Those are the many
roles and disciplines that make up who you are, but it doesn't mean
those disciplines are roles don't have a distinctiveness of their
own. (yes, that last phrase wreaked of Star Trek First Contact, I'm
sorry.)

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=23732

23 Dec 2007 - 10:16am
Paul Eisen
2007

Dave, I may be guilty to some degree of a role-centric, rather than a
discipline-centric, viewpoint. But I equally could have prefaced my
posting with, "When I engage in interaction design..."

I certainly don't try to confuse client- or project-management
activities with design activities, and I don't include user-research
activities in my viewpoint, despite all of those being core activities
in my bag of tricks. I guess the difficulty I'm having is, when thinking
about the discipline of interactive design, drawing the lines between
the various facets of design. For example, where does user-experience
strategy end and information architecture (or interactive architecture,
for that matter) end? And where is the boundary between the architecture
and the interactive design? And how about the line between interactive
design and design specification? And how important is it that these
design activities, all with such tremendous interplay, be distinguished
from one another in any case?

As I'm new to this discussion group, I don't want to rehash topics that
may have already been soundly flogged. So if there are any postings
addressing this issue that are particularly successful, please point me
in the right direction.

Paul
TandemSeven
www.tandemseven.com

23 Dec 2007 - 1:32pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Great questions Paul ...
What's wrong w/ Gray matter? And by that I mean, aren't we all
smart enough to distinguish the gravitational affinities of a
discipline from its edges that have lots of blur? Blur is great IMHO.
It enables us to learn and advance as practitioners and as a
discipline that much more.

But understanding the core is also important. Maybe your core lies
elsewhere? THAT's OK! but that doesn't mean that each of the
disciplines and practices you mentioned don't have their own
distinctive core either.

I don't want to argue the exact (where does this end or that begin)
definitions of all the pieces you mention above. I concentrate on my
world, which is interaction design and I look at how communities of
practice and educational disciplines define themselves.

I do caution your argument though b/c it leads down the slippery
slope of, "Isn't it all just "D"esign?" and I feel that that
approach does a lot of damage to practice and education.

I think we also need to consider different people's perspective in a
conversation like this one. What are the goals and motivations of the
definer. Heck, I'm not immune.

The biggest areas that force me into semantic debates again and again
are education and career path. The other secondary area is around my
perferred areas of practice which has put me in direct contact with
industrial design centered practices, which after being in techie &
webbie organizations REALLY put the spot light on design education as
a core part of the health and well-being of the design group AND
design practice from the point of foundations through studio crit is
a core part of that practice.

As I said in a different posting, we engage in these debates, to
learn from one another and to hash out a strategic direction for the
community as a whole. I don't think we are ever trying to say, "If
that's been working well for you, but it doesn't fit my philosophy,
you better stop and do it my way." If it is working and you and your
clients and market are happy ... Then heck! codify it in lots of case
studies, explain what value it adds to the whole of the community, and
make it public for the world.

What are YOUR IDEO method cards?

The last point which comes from a private back and forth is that it
seems some people are confusing "aesthetics" with "visual
aesthetics". In interaction design aesthetics include many points of
sensory & behavioral contacts and in some cases include points of
no-contact. But isn't that my bigger point. How can we have a
discipline where we can even discuss our unique angle on aesthetics
unless we actually agree that aesthetics play a core role in what we
do?

Paul, to your last request about postings that address what you are
asking successfully, there are 4 years of this thread, so I don't
think I could point you to one posting. I do like Challis Hodge's
original graphic on the eco-system of design and technology, which
you can find on his blog (challishodge.com).

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=23732

26 Dec 2007 - 9:53am
jrrogan
2005

Seasons Greetings all from the peanut gallery of workers working on
Christmas, with nothing better to do then comment on the state of ID:

In response to Murli's thoughtful "Straw Man" theory and Katie's "Copy
Paste" abilities; Design does mean a lot of things for sure, but it's not
undefinable, especially when you're considering something as specific as
"Interaction Design".

Interaction Design is (sort of, maybe, just guessing, could be, probably is,
who knows?), where you're designing UI elements for states, flows,
transitions and support for software/websites/interactive devices. Of course
other design aspects can help and play a part, but primarily, (for the job
description, if we had one, at least I'm guessing here, we don't have one
right?), you're just doing the above list.

And reducing the job description down to it's "inseperable components" is in
no way a "Straw Man", rather I believe that is a pretty common, (basis of
science), way to determine what something "really is".

You can't be an "Interaction Designer" and "NOT" Design, thus it is the
"Fundemental" and "Most Important" aspect of the Job. Other aspects are
important as well, for sure, but they could be handled by another team
member, or one "ID" could do one skill and another do another one,
simply they "are separable" from the job description.

Having said the above, the "Grim Prospects of Reality" tends to rear it's
ugly head at time of clarity like this, (clear as mud clarity that
is), pointing out the most important aspect of our job is being
"Politically Savy" and/or getting an "Advanced Degree from a Top
University", and/or being an incredible "Bull Sh*tter" and/or having "Lots
of Connections". Thus if you couldn't design sh*t, well you'd still be the
boss, making design really not important in the slightest bit, (as long as
you're company is well capitalized ;).

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year All, may 2008 bring more wild and thought
provoking discussion!

27 Dec 2007 - 11:41am
Kevin Silver1
2006

On Dec 23, 2007, at 11:32 AM, David Malouf wrote:

> The last point which comes from a private back and forth is that it
> seems some people are confusing "aesthetics" with "visual
> aesthetics". In interaction design aesthetics include many points of
> sensory & behavioral contacts and in some cases include points of
> no-contact. But isn't that my bigger point. How can we have a
> discipline where we can even discuss our unique angle on aesthetics
> unless we actually agree that aesthetics play a core role in what we
> do?

<semantics>

To answer Dave, aesthetics plays a huge role in what we do, but they
live on the surface. It's the qualities of an interaction that dives
deeper and allows us to discuss an interaction in a common manner.
In my mind, aesthetics implies the subjective, where as qualities
implies the objective.

</semantics>

The one thing that has been missing in the last few threads on
design, is that we don't explicitly discuss the form of an
interaction. Because an interaction can seem to be intangible we
tend to focus solely on the presentation when we do discuss form: the
visual interface or the tangible gadget. We need to take the form of
an interaction deeper and maybe view it more holistically to possibly
define as such: Conversation is the heart of an interaction that is
enabled and defined by a multi-dimensional design language which
includes the tangible (words, visual representations, physical
objects or space) and the intangible (time and behavior). This isn't
meant to indicate our roles as designers, but it is a way to describe
and think about an interaction as form and what is necessary for an
interaction (at least in our context) to take place. We need a way
to talk about the output of our design process and tailor the
traditional sense of form to fit our needs. By doing this it helps
explain the differences of some of the viewpoints on the list, such
as is visual design a necessary skill? I'm not saying it is, but
visual dimension is typically necessary for an interaction to take
place. I wrote more about an interactions form in UX Matters article
ironically called "What Puts the Design in Interaction Design".

Kevin

Kevin Silver
Clearwired Web Services

10899 Montgomery, Suite C
Albuquerque, NM 87109

office: 505.217.3505
toll-free: 866.430.2832
fax: 505.217.3506

e: kevin at clearwired.com
w: www.clearwired.com

27 Dec 2007 - 12:46pm
Katie Albers
2005

>In response to Murli's thoughtful "Straw Man" theory and Katie's "Copy
>Paste" abilities; Design does mean a lot of things for sure, but it's not
>undefinable, especially when you're considering something as specific as
>"Interaction Design".

Don't go trifling with my copy/paste abilities :-) More to the point,
no one's been able to answer that question yet.

Okay. Let me try simple declarative sentences and see if that helps.
My issue is not that I think Design is undefinable.
My issue is not that it means many things.
I agree that Interaction Design is specific.
My issue is that no one has defined design.

I suspect that people are using the word to mean many different
things, and unless we nail it down in its context(s) we cannot
legitimately discuss it, and to say Interaction Design is a form of
Design that is interactive (which is what people seem to fall back
on) is meaningless. We say that the aesthetic can be multi-valent but
we don't define what relies on or is informed by the aesthetic.

Many years ago, when I first got into this field, I was in the middle
of researching what the stakeholders were looking for and they all
kept using the same terms, but in a highly specialized way that I was
not familiar with and that didn't seem to match - so to speak. I
asked each of them to send me a definition of each of 4 or 5 terms
and got back entirely incompatible definitions. No wonder they
couldn't communicate with me; they weren't actually communicating
with each other, although they were certain that they were.

I suspect that something similar is happening here and that we aren't
having the conversation we think we are having and that concerns me.

Katie

--

----------------
Katie Albers
katie at firstthought.com

27 Dec 2007 - 1:26pm
Dave Malouf
2005

re: Katie's call to "define design" I have taken a different
approach. I define the context of use of the term instead of the term
itself. Why? B/c I may actually want to use a generic term like
"design" in as many different ways as we have already discussed and
then some. Further, it just gets WAY too difficult to have to find
synonyms for all the other ways the term is in use in informal
language already. So trying to define it feels like an impossible
task.

But Katie, if I said that "graphic design" or "fashion design" is
a design centered creative craft and discipline, would you REALLY need
me to define "design"?

Of course not.

Why can't I be using "design" exactly the same way here?
"Interaction Design; You know, just like graphic design or fashion
design or information design, but about interactions between
products, services and humans."

That seems pretty simple, no?

Almost too simple ... ;)

No offense Katie, but the only reason I hear people get in a huff
about "design" is b/c they aren't designers. "I do IxD, therefore
why are you excluding, ME?!?" ... Well, if you are doing it, and you
are doing design like a graphic designer or fashion designer would,
then why feel excluded? If you are just engineering interactions
based on analytical theory and research dissection, then I would say
you ain't doing interaction design ... you are just creating
interactions. creation and design is not the same thing. I can draw,
but that doesn't mean I'm doing graphic design. Same goes true
here.

Yes, to the above example, I can even apply "graphic design"
principles against my simple drawing, but again, that doesn't mean I
was practicing graphic design.

The purpose of definitions is to define inclusion, ergo it is used to
define exclusion. It is not bad, it just is.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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27 Dec 2007 - 1:32pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Kevin,

Not all interactions contain visual elements. what about Voice UI?

Hmm? I think you and I are thinking of aesthetics differently. So I
see aesthetics as the primary. Even if form follows function, the
functioning of a thing has an aesthetic response as much as the
function does.

Take the Wii for example. The sheer joy that comes out of using the
gestural controller has little to nothing to do with the explicit ID
that it is built on. The joy and the beauty is embedded into the
interaction itself trumping the form/shape that the interaction is
embodied around.

But I do agree with you (and much to Andrei's point) that it is so
difficult to separate the form from the function in good interaction
design, which is why "embodiment" of interaction (form giving) is
an important part of interaction design. The dialog between
interaction and embodiment is core to interaction design success.

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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