There's another major difference in the practice of Interaction Design and
Industrial Design that nobody's cited yet. For the most part, the
practitioners of Industrial Design have the chops to build the products that
they're designing, at least up to highly-evolved prototypes which are almost
as realistic in their function as the final product.
However, I don't think that most Interaction Designers are capable of
creating such highly evolved prototypes, which would equate in the digital
realm to prototypes which are created with working code. IxDs, in my
experience, generally aren't as equipped to follow through with or argue for
some of the intricate functional aspects of our design solutions as
Industrial Designers are in the related detail of their product designs.
(Web IxDs might be a major exception to this statement, but maybe not if
we're talking about web applications.)
I daresay that most IxDs are more equipped to fully handle the form side of
a digital design, rather than the functional, despite needing desperately to
affect/understand/innovate the functional side since we've gone ahead and
defined the behavioral side. Do others, like me, experience this situation
as a challenge to their practice?
At 2:49 PM -0500 11/20/03, David Heller wrote:
>So are we in agreement then that there are two distinct disciplines?
Yikes! When I mentioned digital industrial design, I certainly didn't mean
to imply that traditional non-digital industrial design and interaction
design weren't distinct (or at least, didn't have unique aspects to them).
I was more or less going after the commonalities (in the same way that
some try to focus on the commonalities of the world's religions). This
all came about because we were wondering if an industrial design
organization could represent us, and I was suggesting that they
might, given that to some extent, we share the same problems.
But I think Coryndon and Kristoffer said it better than I!
One quick question though before I stop beating this dead horse :).
Is it that industrial designers focus on form over function? Or is it
that in their world, the complexity of the associated human behaviors
is far more simple. Or if it isn't simple, say like for an automobile,
there are established conventions and/or patterns that designers
use rather than spending lots of time on designing for them.
Similarly, to some extent, many industrial design products are
much further along in their product lifecycles (compared to software
and web applications), so that functionality ceases to be a product
differentiator and form becomes much more important.
Thus one way of looking at this is just to say that the current state
of industrial design is just further along the curve than interaction
It may not be in my lifetime (I'm an old fart), but is it impossible to
imagine a world where software and web applications are actually
usable? And choosing between spreadsheet programs is like
choosing between Ford and Toyota?