"That interplay and innovation comes out best when one person is able to
work through it all. Not a team. Teams are needed due to project deadlines,
scope, etc. Teams are the norm, true, but the ideal is still one person. I
very rarely see teams innovate. I often see single designers innovate." --
I love ya man, but this point I REALLY have to disagree with. My experience
here at Motorola Enterprise Mobility is that innovation is best done in
groups. The cathartic energy of a design studio environment breeds
innovation better than any other I have been in.
Case in point, I just submitted a patent application b/c myself and an ID
were working on a problem. Through our discussing and sketching, and going
back and forth a new innovation occurred that is patentable & licensable and
actually valuable. The event would have never occurred otherwise.
I hate working alone. I loathe it. I'm in a position right now, where I'm
the only IxD in my group and I'm suffering from it. (Wanna job, email me ...
please be a "D"esigner ... no PhD's, reserachers, and usability experts).
I also disagree with your contention that you can't have specialization and
bring specialists together to create a better whole. I have done great work
where I directed from the point of view of IxD working with a visual
designer or other form-making designer.
Now where I do agree with you that Interaction Designers need to be
competent in form-making, no doubt. It is the only way we can lead and
collaborate with form-makers when being a part of the design process.
I think you are overstating your position a tad and not really thinking
about the total eco-system for interaction design today and tomorrow.
I agree that "it isn't so hard" to learn basic type, layout and color theory
(for example); couple that with shape, texture, sound, and spatial theories
of ID (my IxD environment) it starts to become a lot, but not hard. But even
you yourself said that what makes the designer special over the usability
expert is that they've been doing this craft "year on year". It is exactly
that point. Yes, I can "learn" theory, but to become practiced in the crafts
associated with them ARE time consuming (not hard, but definitely time
consuming). They also (and this is the kicker) require learning
interpretation skills. Knowing that 5px separation isn't enough negative
space vs. 10px which is just right takes a lot of practice and here's the
kicker ... waiting for it ... MENTORSHIP!!!!!
Reading a book and putting it on your web site once isn't going to do it.
Crafts require attention to detail, which requires a master's eye to guide
For example, even after 8 weeks of a sketching class, I still can't look at
a cube (the basic component of ID sketching) and tell you if it is right or
not. Maybe, I'm an idiot, but it seemed to me that those that can do this,
can b/c they have spent 100's of hours drawing, critiquing and building with
the elements involved.
I do think we need to have a broad swath of skills and form-making skills
are REALLY important, but I do also believe that form-making in and of
itself is NOT the primary skill or theory we as interaction designers need
Neither is psychology (btw)
I would answer this another way. Since Bill Buxton is one of my models of
directions for my career. Heading towards being a Leo is definitely on my
radar and I would say might be a good idea for many of us in practice.
I would also point to the non-direct aspects of Leo-ism: do more!
I often look for tangential criteria when hiring: multi-lingual, well
traveled, hobbies, into music, etc. This to me speaks to the Leo-ism that I
admire more than whether or not I can paint, sculpt and architect.