Should iteraction designer produce code... (Formally: Open Position: Sr. Interaction Designer @ MITRE)

18 Oct 2004 - 9:25am
9 years ago
1 reply
591 reads
Coryndon Luxmoore
2004

Snip
- Creating release quality web development code and graphics for inclusion
in the final products
/Snip

Snip
- Java or JSP development experience
/Snip

I see position requirements like this a lot in job postings (Sorry to pick
on you Juhan)where the expectation seems to be that the interaction designer
will be doing the production coding as well as the design. However, in my
professional experience I rarely see this happening anymore. Besides the
need for the interaction designer to have enough skills to produce effective
disposable prototypes it seems like this skills are more and more being
divided into two different roles.

Do folks on this think that this kind of skill is:
-Realistic?
-A good idea?

--Coryndon

Comments

18 Oct 2004 - 12:36pm
Petteri Hiisilä
2004

> I see position requirements like this a lot in job postings (Sorry to pick
> on you Juhan)where the expectation seems to be that the interaction designer
> will be doing the production coding as well as the design. However, in my
> professional experience I rarely see this happening anymore. Besides the
> need for the interaction designer to have enough skills to produce effective
> disposable prototypes it seems like this skills are more and more being
> divided into two different roles.
>
> Do folks on this think that this kind of skill is:
> -Realistic?
> -A good idea?

1. Is it realistic? Not very.

To do that, you first have to be a good programmer. To do that, you have
to start early (as a teenager). To do that, you have to develop a very
different mindset from homo sapiens.

But it you do that, then you have a slight change to become a good
engineer (those guys who are now called architects).

If this all happens and you're able to escape back to the human world,
you'll become a brilliant interaction designer.

But whatever you do, DO NOT WRITE PRODUCTION CODE OR CREATE TECHNICAL
ARCHITECTURE, even if you have done it before. Just utilize your
knowledge, but don't let it nail down your thinking.

There is a hidden, but serious conflict of interest. You can be a good
interaction designer or you can be a good engineer/programmer in the
same head, but not in the same project. At best you'll perform OK at
every field. Cooper wrote a lot about this, and he's right. I've tried
it, and it's not a good idea.

If you can, get another guy to code. Even writing VB prototypes or XHTML
will severely compromise your ability to design. Just because you can,
you don't want to.

2. Is it a good idea? Absolutely.

The ideal interaction designer is 100 % sure what can be built at the
moment. What it will require. How expensive it will be. How long it will
take. What kind of crew it requires. What kind of platform it requires.

It's the only way to design the simplest, complete, most powerful
solution. Within constraints.

The ideal designer simply won't produce a spec that isn't both powerful
and feasible.

3. Is it possible? Yes. But you have to start early.

4. Can you do without? Maybe. But you'd be much more effective with it.
I guess that's why they ask it.

If there is a single advice that I can give to any
ex-programmer-ex-engineer who wants to be an interaction designer: don't
code. Be an architect.

You'll find lots of ways to utilize your knowledge, but if you think
about the engineering part, you nail your first hand on the bench. If
you think about actually programming it, you nail the second hand on the
bench. Too much implementation pain will make you blind to see the big
problems. Less pain, more gain!

- Petteri

--
Petteri Hiisilä
Palveluarkkitehti / Interaction Designer /
Alma Media Interactive Oy / NWS /
+358505050123 / petteri.hiisila at almamedia.fi

"The unbroken spirit
Obscured and disquiet
Finds clearness this trial demands"
- Dream Theater

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