IxDA Curriculum (Was: Importance of, Masters Degree for IxD Professionals)

23 Jun 2008 - 4:39pm
6 years ago
8 replies
824 reads
landay
2004

I don't usually post on this list, but I couldn't help noticing this
post and felt an urge to respond...

I take issue with Dan using Jared's abstract in the way he did. First,
the abstract for such a conference keynote is often meant to be
controversial so as to attract an audience. Jared knows this quite well
as he also uses it to attract folks to his company's services and annual
"conference." But, more importantly it is improper to quote it and take
a particularly important word out of the first sentence. Jared actually
wrote:

"/Fast forward 25 years and it *now seems* the foundations of
user-centered design are now disintegrating. " (emphasis mine)/

It seems odd (and in fact dishonest) to me that you cut that part out.
He is asking questions here, not making a statement that it is true. And
the fact is that there are UCD practices at Google, on the iPod team,
etc. (I don't know much about Facebook or Twitter's practice, but I'm
doubtful that Facebook doesn't have some UCD going on). Some companies
do not want you to believe they practice these techniques so that they
can make their designers into superstars and use that in their marketing.

James /
/
discuss-request at lists.interactiondesigners.com wrote:
> Message: 57
> Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2008 10:46:11 -0700
> From: Dan Saffer <dan at odannyboy.com>
> Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] IxDA Curriculum (Was: Importance of
> Masters Degree for IxD Professionals)
>
>
>> I'd say the last thing we'd want to do is put the Artist/Designer
>> back into her high-tower, preparing wondrous creations to unleash
>> upon a grateful and waiting one-to-many monologic world.
>>
>
> Why is this not a valid means of design? I'll let Andrei and Jim
> Leftwich do their thing here, but I'll point to Jared's recent keynote:
>
> <http://www.uie.com/brainsparks/2008/04/23/ia-summit-keynote-journey-to-the-center-of-design/
> >
>
> where he notes:
>
> "The foundations of user-centered design are now disintegrating.
> Notable community members are suggesting UCD practice is burdensome
> and returns little value. There?s a growing sentiment that spending
> limited resources on user research takes away from essential design
> activities. Previously fundamental techniques, such as usability
> testing and persona development, are now regularly under attack. And
> let?s not forget that today?s shining stars, such as Google, Facebook,
> Twitter, and the iPod, came to their success without UCD practices."
>
>
> Dan
>

Comments

23 Jun 2008 - 4:56pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jun 23, 2008, at 3:39 PM, James A. Landay wrote:

> It seems odd (and in fact dishonest) to me that you cut that part
> out. He is asking questions here, not making a statement that it is
> true. And the fact is that there are UCD practices at Google, on the
> iPod team, etc. (I don't know much about Facebook or Twitter's
> practice, but I'm doubtful that Facebook doesn't have some UCD going
> on). Some companies do not want you to believe they practice these
> techniques so that they can make their designers into superstars and
> use that in their marketing.

Google practices UCD? Really? How so? Their bread and butter with the
search engine was built and designed by engineers, pure and simple. I
guess Google Apps are "user centered design" but really... how much is
user centered versus how much is working from a wealth of knowledge
form the past 30 years of making email, word processors and
spreadsheet applications? Sure, a few features here and there are
interesting, but those pieces are a small portion of the entire
product offering.

Apple has been on record as not practicing UCD many times now. They
design what they like, pure and simple. Are you saying they are lying?

Facebook? Um... have you been inside Facebook and seen how they work?
Built by engineers and a bunch of youngin's during "Hackathon" fests
that start in the afternoon and go all night until they get something.
In fact, you can watch the Facebook Platform video yourself to see one
prominent Facebook engineer say, "We basically make a bunch of stuff,
throw it against the wall and see what sticks."

To my knowledge, Twitter was built organically, hardly planned on how
people would use it at all. It just sort of happened from a fun
project some engineer started. UCD there? Please show me.

For the people who are offended that there are people out there (like
me I might add) who shun "UCD," well... it's really about time to shut
us up by proving how much better products designed with that process
are. I have yet to encounter a product that was designed via the "UCD
methodology" that excelled in its product category. I attribute
largely to an inherent flaw in favoring "users" over all else, which
are both technology and business concerns.

I also attribute it to a phrase I have written on my whiteboard at home:

"Designers have a process. Designers don't use a process."

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

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

23 Jun 2008 - 5:03pm
Dan Saffer
2003

On Jun 23, 2008, at 3:39 PM, James A. Landay wrote:

> I take issue with Dan using Jared's abstract in the way he did.
> First, the abstract for such a conference keynote is often meant to
> be controversial so as to attract an audience. Jared knows this
> quite well as he also uses it to attract folks to his company's
> services and annual "conference." But, more importantly it is
> improper to quote it and take a particularly important word out of
> the first sentence. Jared actually wrote:
>
> "/Fast forward 25 years and it *now seems* the foundations of user-
> centered design are now disintegrating. " (emphasis mine)/
>
> It seems odd (and in fact dishonest) to me that you cut that part
> out. He is asking questions here, not making a statement that it is
> true.
>

Are you seriously suggesting that I, a respected member of this
community, would deliberately try to mislead people because I slightly
trimmed a sentence (for legibility: I didn't think the Fast Forward
bit made sense out of context)? That I would misquote someone who is
also on this list and could easily correct me if I misspoke? Do those
two words change the substance of the argument in any substantial way?

For shame, sir. Now you are splitting hairs and trolling. If you took
the time to see Jared's keynote or slideshow, you would see that he is
NOT just raising the question, he is in fact making this statement and
offering a solution.

Dan Saffer, M.Des., IDSA
Experience Design Director, Adaptive Path
http://www.adaptivepath.com
http://www.odannyboy.com

23 Jun 2008 - 7:02pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Wow!!!! I disappear into client meetings for a day and this is what I
find. Yummy!!!!

First I want to thank Chris and Uday for their wonderful
contributions at such a high level of intellectual discourse. That
isn't to say other people aren't saying smart things, but in the
spirit of pro-intellectualism I must call them out and congratulate
them. Thanx!!!

Andrei, I'm sooo glad we are finally on the same side of a battle
line on this list. ;-)

Ok, now to some of the discussion:
First, to Dan's defense. Heck! Jason, that was really weird. Your
interpretation of Dan & Jared are just way off, and your attack of
Dan is well unnecessary. Let's just move on from there, b/c w/ or
w/o Jared's quote there is plenty of ammunition to support that the
IBM marketing ploy formerly known as UCD is running its course and
fading away.

On to Charlie, No this isn't a baby & bathwater consideration, in
fact it is just the opposite. It is throwing out the dirty bathwater
and reminding us of the baby which is well, Design. UCD practices
outside of human factors has not nearly had the same successful
results as just good old fashion simple design practices. Do these
lack attention to human beings? HELL NO!!! and this is the
designer's core point. That there have been tons of methods for
getting at users for decades before human factors was being applied
outside the technological/military fields. Applied anthropology &
other design research methods that help designers gain empathy have
been around forever it seems to me.

So again, this is not about forgetting our past, but it is about
reclaiming a "better" past. And heck, if I'm a revisionist, than
so be it, b/c UCD just hasn't cut it nearly as well as just from the
gut innovations from Dyson, to Kamen, to Behar, to Jobs/Ive, to
MySpace, to Google search, and so on and so forth.

Now, while the statements above are extreme, I think there is also a
balance here. I believe that outside of interaction design there are
good uses for usability and other user research methods, but I do not
see these to be core/fundamental to interaction design itself. I
responded recently to the post on UXMatters basically calling on a
unification of UX and my response ended with a statement declaring
that IxD has more in common with industrial design and visual design
and architecture than it does with HCI, usability and information
architecture. I still stand by that.

Ok, on to Andrei, "interface" vs. "interaction". I can see how
easy these terms can be interchangeable as well as hierarchical. But
we have to make a decision and it seems that while you have been
using interface for quite some time the rest of the world has moved
on to interaction, no? I mean all the lu,minaries of your day (you
old man you!) and of today seem to be talking about "interaction
design". These are people who created the very core of the patterns
we have built every bit of software and hardware on top of: Verplank,
Moggridge, Tog, Norman, etc. (Heck, I think most of these folks are
older than you, no?) ... Now, that being said, I think Raskin (elder)
called it interface design, but still never once in any of his many
arguments (with you) on this list challenged the name interaction
design. I REALLY have to beg you to give this one up. I think it is a
loosing battle. Another reason it is lost is that a whole other
continent who is WAY ahead of us in education on this topic has
decided on "interaction", as has IDSA in the name of its section
and so on and so forth.

But that being said, I want to put that aside. You said that
everything in Dan's list (and other's) is "interface design" so
be it and you asked for what people meant when they said "interface
design". Here is what I mean:

Interface design is the language used in semiotic, symbolic,
metaphoric, etc. forms that is used to build interfaces with. These
can be combined, collated, coordinated and coalesced into controls,
buttons, knobs, switches, etc. to create a metaphor around
affordances to communicate the behaviors (input receivers and
feedback mechanisms) that make up virtual and physical products with
digital intelligences.

Basically, what are the basic building blocks of interfaces? This
could be taught in terms of patterns, but I think even UI components
would be good.

Recently in my class for SmartExperience.org where I have a wide
range of students it was clear that a core assumption on my part was
that anyone coming to the class understood how to articulate UI the
way I described above. The reality is this is not the case and while
I don't have time in the class syllabus to fully take this on I
realized that I had to help students with supplemental resources they
can use on their own time.

Now, can this come out during studio? maybe? I think there is some
theoretical stuff in UI design like Humane Interface and Theo Mandels
work that I believe could make up its own course, but overall studio
could be the right place to teach these core elements of the craft of
interaction/interface design.

-- dave

ps. Andrei if you want to take on the interface/interaction stuff,
can you spawn another thread?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=30515

23 Jun 2008 - 7:28pm
Christine Boese
2006

If paring down a page to a single form field, and peeling away all the
clutter that was part and parcel of "search portals" at the time, was a
radical act, a defiant act, on behalf of users. If it was not THE PRIMO
example of UCD, I don't know what is.

Yes, Google's back end and guts were the value proposition, the fast search,
the intuitive results. But the gamble, the biggest gamble Google made, was
to dare to stand up for users being more important than advertisers, and to
court those users with pure functionality, SEARCH. The devotion to users, by
making that search as pure and true and close to the Akashic Records of the
Internet is, far and beyond, over and above Google's incredible valuation, a
PUBLIC SERVICE on behalf of users that will live on in history, long after
Google's founders have been forgotten.

Maybe Google doesn't pinch its butt cheeks together and chant "Here we are
self-consciously doing UCD," (I have no idea one way of the other, although
they most certainly hire UX people), but when the net result is to radically
SHOW UP those people who do sit around and chant the chant, by advocating
even more radically for users and the user experience, all UCD people can do
is sit around and feel embarrassed for having sinned and fallen short of the
glory of Google.

Google is also an innovator in another area that is still under active
contention, but it is something I would argue is again, UCD, pure user
advocacy. I am referring to the endless Beta releases as a direct business
strategy. Calling a product "beta" invites users, audiences, social groups,
to participate in co-authoring the design, because the design is confessedly
unfinished, and requires users to bring it to its full beauty, its best UCD
completeness, which may never be complete, because Google is redefining the
value of a fiction called "completeness."

That has done more for UCD than any UX "process" that I'm aware of, because
it self consciously makes design "social."

Chris

On Mon, Jun 23, 2008 at 6:56 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk <
andrei at involutionstudios.com> wrote:

>
> On Jun 23, 2008, at 3:39 PM, James A. Landay wrote:
>
> It seems odd (and in fact dishonest) to me that you cut that part out. He
>> is asking questions here, not making a statement that it is true. And the
>> fact is that there are UCD practices at Google, on the iPod team, etc. (I
>> don't know much about Facebook or Twitter's practice, but I'm doubtful that
>> Facebook doesn't have some UCD going on). Some companies do not want you to
>> believe they practice these techniques so that they can make their designers
>> into superstars and use that in their marketing.
>>
>
>
> Google practices UCD? Really? How so? Their bread and butter with the
> search engine was built and designed by engineers, pure and simple. I guess
> Google Apps are "user centered design" but really... how much is user
> centered versus how much is working from a wealth of knowledge form the past
> 30 years of making email, word processors and spreadsheet applications?
> Sure, a few features here and there are interesting, but those pieces are a
> small portion of the entire product offering.
>
> Apple has been on record as not practicing UCD many times now. They design
> what they like, pure and simple. Are you saying they are lying?
>
> Facebook? Um... have you been inside Facebook and seen how they work? Built
> by engineers and a bunch of youngin's during "Hackathon" fests that start in
> the afternoon and go all night until they get something. In fact, you can
> watch the Facebook Platform video yourself to see one prominent Facebook
> engineer say, "We basically make a bunch of stuff, throw it against the wall
> and see what sticks."
>
> To my knowledge, Twitter was built organically, hardly planned on how
> people would use it at all. It just sort of happened from a fun project some
> engineer started. UCD there? Please show me.
>
> For the people who are offended that there are people out there (like me I
> might add) who shun "UCD," well... it's really about time to shut us up by
> proving how much better products designed with that process are. I have yet
> to encounter a product that was designed via the "UCD methodology" that
> excelled in its product category. I attribute largely to an inherent flaw in
> favoring "users" over all else, which are both technology and business
> concerns.
>
> I also attribute it to a phrase I have written on my whiteboard at home:
>
> "Designers have a process. Designers don't use a process."
>
> --
> Andrei Herasimchuk
>
> Principal, Involution Studios
> innovating the digital world
>
> e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
> c. +1 408 306 6422
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> 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
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>

23 Jun 2008 - 7:54pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jun 23, 2008, at 6:02 PM, dave malouf wrote:

> Ok, on to Andrei, "interface" vs. "interaction". I can see how
> easy these terms can be interchangeable as well as hierarchical. But
> we have to make a decision and it seems that while you have been
> using interface for quite some time the rest of the world has moved
> on to interaction, no?

Oh really? Just five or so years ago people were saying the thing was
"experience design." Dan even has that as his title. And yet that term
has seemingly lost a lot of its popularity. I see it less and less
these days compared to five years ago. Maybe it's still going strong,
but I don't see it.

Once you get past the perception problem created by plenty of folks
who call themselves "interaction designers" that they don't draw or do
any of that touchy feely artsy stuff, and once you acknowledge that
being an "interaction" designer means you also focus on aesthetics
since the term "interaction" implies nothing of the sort, that you
deal with business concerns, and that you need a solid programming
background so that you could build prototypes to some degree of
fidelity, then you'll need a good 5 years solid of making sure the
term isn't a fad.

After that... THEN I'll be ok with it. Until then, I'm still an
interface designer and I'll continue to be one since it's easier to
explain what I do to people who write the checks than to try and
explain, "well, I define the interaction *AND* I do a lot more at the
same time." I'd rather just tell them right out of the gate that I
design, prototype and help build the entire interface up front. It's
just so much easier.

> I REALLY have to beg you to give this one up. I think it is a
> loosing battle.

Until you and the IxDA define that the work that is done is more than
just the "interaction" part, I will not concede any ground. Why should
I? Why should I effectively look at people and say, "oh, I do less
than I used to." Or why should I muddy up my message just to make
other people happy when it's really easier to say I create interfaces
and that includes design, prototyping and building?

And in point of fact, Dan Saffer has added "typography" into the
definition of interaction. I distinctly remember years ago when this
was not the case; that to consider needing a typography background for
an interaction designer? That was touchy feely artsy stuff. Why should
I concede? Apparently my strategy is working. People are slowly
saying, "yeah, we need to do more design in this interaction thing."
I'll keep egging on about color and composition as well. Why? Because
it's needed! Further, it's not that much more once you've piled on
Industrial Design fundamentals, where understanding type, color and
composition is great foundation work for both ID and GD.

Losing battle? I take the long view on everything. The only way you'll
know that I've lost is probably 20 years after I'm dead. And I plan on
living longer than you. 8^)

But the fact that more and more people are saying that a lot of the
multidisciplinary design knowledge is needed seems to imply I'm losing
nothing of the sort. I've told you this person many times, but you
seem to not believe me, or you aren't hearing me properly: I honestly
don't care what it's called. What I care about is that I'm allowed to
control, define, be held accountable for, and get credit for what I
design. And that I don't want anyone to get in my way when I do so
because they've silo'd me off from touching aspects of the product
since "interaction" designers don't do that. At the same, I've found
in my career it's easier to explain what I do when I label myself
after what I design. I design interfaces, that makes it easy.

You want me to call myself an interaction designer? I'll gladly do so
when I it doesn't make my life harder explaining and getting
accountability for what it is that I actually do.

Note: I don't argue about needing an introduction to Cog Psych nor
Programming, as outlined in Dan's course suggestion. I agree... they
are required! The difference between you and me Dave is that I've
*ALWAYS* said the practice is varied and requires more. Others -- and
yourself included -- have said it doesn't need so much. It appears
people are finally coming around to my point of view on a lot of
things, including you.

More design please. That's what it's always been about for me. Is
there a point where its too much? Sure! But Industrial designers and
Architects have FAR more they are required to learn than anyone in
software or digital product design. We have quite a ways to go before
out cup runeth over.

> Interface design is the language used in semiotic, symbolic,
> metaphoric, etc. forms that is used to build interfaces with. These
> can be combined, collated, coordinated and coalesced into controls,
> buttons, knobs, switches, etc. to create a metaphor around
> affordances to communicate the behaviors (input receivers and
> feedback mechanisms) that make up virtual and physical products with
> digital intelligences.

Um. Could you restate please? But use English this time.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

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

23 Jun 2008 - 9:16pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Chrstine,
UCD is a collection of methods, not the act of "thinking of users".
So your saying that Google is into UCD I don't find helpful. Heck,
Apple does UCD from that perspective, and so does Walmart. The point
people were making was around the use of the classic IBM class of UCD
practice skills/processes.

Andrei, ... I don't want to ruin this otherwise great thread here.
If I got some time I'll respond in a separate thread.

But let's get back to the point of the thread.
At the core, interaction design is about building the frameworks that
other disciplines hang their form making on top of. (So yes, I DO
still separate interaction from interface, the same way I separate
graphics from industrial). I say this because I have seen quite
clearly 2 people take on the different roles based on experience and
knowledge. This tells me that form making and framework definition
are really different.

Now this being said, the more I know about form making the more
valuable my role is as an interaction designer. Of course, I could
say the same about business and technology as well.

The reason that prototyping and other form making is required for our
education is that the only way to practice interaction design is to
build forms around the interactions you are designing and in an
educational setting you don't have another department to work with
like you do in the real world.

Also, while I disagree with the strength of the 37Signal's latest
blog post, I do agree in spirit that being able to make things makes
the process of designing interactions a heck of a lot easier. ;-)

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=30515

23 Jun 2008 - 9:17pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

> On Jun 23, 2008, at 6:02 PM, dave malouf wrote:
>
>> Ok, on to Andrei, "interface" vs. "interaction". I can see how
>> easy these terms can be interchangeable as well as hierarchical. But
>> we have to make a decision and it seems that while you have been
>> using interface for quite some time the rest of the world has moved
>> on to interaction, no?

Oh how I love the interwebs. Slides 21-24 need clarification?
Warning... the link below is a PowerPoint presentation. Click at your
own risk.

http://www.iasummit.org/2005/finalpapers/103_Presentation.ppt

You see my problem, David? Slide 22 -- written by you a mere 3 years
ago -- clearly states that interaction design is merely part of larger
whole. And yet... with Dan Saffer's new course recommendation
including things like typography, programming, ID and even Cog Pysch,
I think it's clear that the people who would come out of such a
program would be able to do all three of the things you list in that
one slide.

You helped put this stuff out there years ago... and now I need you to
clean it up. Get to it!

8^)

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

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

23 Jun 2008 - 9:49pm
Christine Boese
2006

Oh yes, agreed, Dave. However, if the methods are not sufficient to take a
large enough step, a radical enough shift of perspective, if they just make
incremental changes, half measures, kinda sorta maybes, something has to
come along and be daring enough to shift fully into the users' POV. If
personas don't get you there, what to do? Personas can help to get you into
an empathetic space, to get you into the head of this Other and that Other.

Yet in the day of search portals, if no amount of user advocacy was able to
displace the power of advertiser advocacy, what rare courage was required to
turn down the big checks and leave the biggest portal of all portals, the
massive Deep Space Nine of Cyberspace, empty? Full of glorious white space,
a design with emphasis, an emphasis that says YOU (user)?

Like that movie, where Demi Moore is offered a million bucks to sleep with
Robert Redford. Who turns down big checks? Who believes in users more than
advertisers? Those who do, practice user centered design far better than
those who use the methods and only give users lip service.

It's like the debate over what to call something. It doesn't matter what you
call it. What matters is what you do.

Chris

On Mon, Jun 23, 2008 at 11:16 PM, dave malouf <dave.ixd at gmail.com> wrote:

> Chrstine,
> UCD is a collection of methods, not the act of "thinking of users".
> So your saying that Google is into UCD I don't find helpful. Heck,
> Apple does UCD from that perspective, and so does Walmart. The point
> people were making was around the use of the classic IBM class of UCD
> practice skills/processes.
>
> Andrei, ... I don't want to ruin this otherwise great thread here.
> If I got some time I'll respond in a separate thread.
>
> But let's get back to the point of the thread.
> At the core, interaction design is about building the frameworks that
> other disciplines hang their form making on top of. (So yes, I DO
> still separate interaction from interface, the same way I separate
> graphics from industrial). I say this because I have seen quite
> clearly 2 people take on the different roles based on experience and
> knowledge. This tells me that form making and framework definition
> are really different.
>
> Now this being said, the more I know about form making the more
> valuable my role is as an interaction designer. Of course, I could
> say the same about business and technology as well.
>
> The reason that prototyping and other form making is required for our
> education is that the only way to practice interaction design is to
> build forms around the interactions you are designing and in an
> educational setting you don't have another department to work with
> like you do in the real world.
>
> Also, while I disagree with the strength of the 37Signal's latest
> blog post, I do agree in spirit that being able to make things makes
> the process of designing interactions a heck of a lot easier. ;-)
>
> -- dave
>
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=30515
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> 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
>

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