practice vs. discipline & roles vs. people

25 Sep 2008 - 7:28am
5 years ago
33 replies
2092 reads
Dave Malouf
2005

Andrei said. "We won't truly agree on much of the larger picture until you
change your stance that "interaction" designers need not understand fully
the fundamentals of graphic design as part of the job description. That
means the fundamentals of good typography, color theory and application,
composition, the grid, layout, etc. I'll let you off the hook in bringing up
basic markup and scripting skills for now."

To create compelling interfaces everything you said is TRUE. All those
skills are required.
Where we disagree is that all of them need to be in a single human being and
that their conglomeration is equal to the discipline of interaction design.

I.e. in my industrial design shop I will never be an expert in 3D form,
though the form and even 3D behavior of the objects designed in the studio
are important to the overall interfacing between human and product and well
that product as a mediator between the human and the underlying software
embedded in that 3D form. I'm also not an iconography so the labeling on
keypads is best done by someone else. But I do step in for the layout and
feel of the interface as it impacts HF and cognitive aspects.

I think it is off to say that the practitioner needs to do everything.

Now, back to education. Any interaction design program (bachelor's or
masters) should require the same design fundamentals that any industrial
designer or architect would go through. I'm sure this covers issues of line
and color, but usually doesn't include issues of layout and type (graphic
design). I think your assumption that "graphic design" is always in the
domain of the interaction designer is a false one. But if an IxD knows they
will be working in 2D systems as their primary canvas than sure, they should
learn as much about 2D communication design as is required to communicate
the behavior of the interfaces they are designing. I don't expect them to
master 2D communication design any more than I would expect them to master
3D product design.

Now another way to look at the education piece, is that you could say that
Interaction Design is a specialty on top of 2D or 3D design education like
surgery on top of cardiology or surgery on top of neurology. Its surgery
with a ton of similarities between them regardless of anatomy, but within
specific anatomy areas, it requires very different craft skills.

-- dave

--
David Malouf
http://synapticburn.com/
http://ixda.org/
http://motorola.com/

Comments

25 Sep 2008 - 11:17am
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Sep 25, 2008, at 5:28 AM, David Malouf wrote:

> To create compelling interfaces everything you said is TRUE. All those
> skills are required.
> Where we disagree is that all of them need to be in a single human
> being and
> that their conglomeration is equal to the discipline of interaction
> design.

I'm not sure why you feel the need to state what's already been said
between us. 8^)

Again... we obviously disagree on this point. I posit however that
within 10 to 15 years, the designers coming up in the field will be
able to do 100% more than the designers of today. So you can take
whatever stand you want in walling off designers in practice, but
you'll just be setting yourself up to be pushed aside when that larger
shift starts to happen.

And for what its worth. It's already starting to happen.

> I think it is off to say that the practitioner needs to do everything.

You once again confuse the pragmatic with the practice.

Yes... I agree... on large projects you're gonna need a lot of hands
to help make it happen. That fact on the job means NOTHING with regard
to the idea that designers who want to jump into interface design
absolutely, positively, must know the fundamentals of graphic design
along with everything else they are taught.

Why? It's simple really... beyond the obvious fact that the design of
most technology requires a screen or display system of some sort...
Graphic design at its heart is about communication. The designer
speaking to the audience and getting across ideas. Interface design is
about conversation, where the audience gets to respond and go back and
forth with the product, as designed by someone. What better way to
learn how to design good conversations than to first learn what good
communication is all about?

How is that possibly the wrong thing to do?

Further, mastering all of the skills of any craft simply takes time.
Decades even. But if you go around claiming "interaction" designers
aren't responsible for aesthetic visual quality, then you are doing
them a disservice since they won't take the time over the long haul to
practice that aspect of the craft and learn to get better at it.

> Now, back to education. Any interaction design program (bachelor's or
> masters) should require the same design fundamentals that any
> industrial
> designer or architect would go through. I'm sure this covers issues
> of line
> and color, but usually doesn't include issues of layout and type
> (graphic
> design).

Wrong. Typography and other graphic design fundamentals, especially in
good industrial design programs, play a large role. I've been trying
to tell you that for at least ten years now.

> I think your assumption that "graphic design" is always in the
> domain of the interaction designer is a false one.

Wrong again. You are setting up interaction design to become
irrelevant in the long run by saying and doing this.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

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

25 Sep 2008 - 11:31am
Mark Schraad
2006

I think there is some self fulfilling prophesy in this. Most
interaction designers that I know and work with that have more than 6
or 7 years of experience, are former graphic designers that were
looking for something more engaging and more challenging than yet
another corporate brochure. I know that describes me...

On Thu, Sep 25, 2008 at 12:17 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk

> Why? It's simple really... beyond the obvious fact that the design of most
> technology requires a screen or display system of some sort... Graphic
> design at its heart is about communication. The designer speaking to the
> audience and getting across ideas. Interface design is about conversation,
> where the audience gets to respond and go back and forth with the product,
> as designed by someone. What better way to learn how to design good
> conversations than to first learn what good communication is all about?

25 Sep 2008 - 11:27am
Mark Schraad
2006

That's odd. Over the last 10 years we have seen exactly the opposite.
In spite of better software, making the capabilities more available,
deep expertise is valued more in the marketplace than more general
skillsets... at least at the tactical level.

On Thu, Sep 25, 2008 at 12:17 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk
<aherasimchuk at involutionstudios.com> wrote:

> Again... we obviously disagree on this point. I posit however that within 10
> to 15 years, the designers coming up in the field will be able to do 100%
> more than the designers of today. So you can take whatever stand you want in
> walling off designers in practice, but you'll just be setting yourself up to
> be pushed aside when that larger shift starts to happen.

25 Sep 2008 - 11:36am
Scott McDaniel
2007

Graphic design is not the sole means of good communication.

Scott

> On Thu, Sep 25, 2008 at 12:17 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk
>
> Why? It's simple really... beyond the obvious fact that the design of most
> technology requires a screen or display system of some sort... Graphic
> design at its heart is about communication. The designer speaking to the
> audience and getting across ideas. Interface design is about conversation,
> where the audience gets to respond and go back and forth with the product,
> as designed by someone. What better way to learn how to design good
>> conversations than to first learn what good communication is all about?

--
* It's very important to know when you're in a pissing match. And
it's very important to get out of it as quickly as possible. - Randy
Pausch

25 Sep 2008 - 12:23pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Sep 25, 2008, at 9:27 AM, mark schraad wrote:

> That's odd. Over the last 10 years we have seen exactly the opposite.

We have. And its been a travesty.

The reason we have seen this is that a lot of people in charge of
design teams in Silicon Valley bought the concept that "interaction"
designers and "visual" designers are two entirely different people.
That trend is starting to change finally -- slowly at first -- as it's
becoming more and more clear that hiring expensive interaction
designers who have no formal aesthetics skills is both costly and
yields products that aren't good enough. Only a few select companies
can get away with it at this stage, and they will change in the future
too.

If you think you deserve $100K+ a year and all you do is define the
interaction and draw workflow diagrams for a software product, you are
boxing yourself into a serious corner. Especially in the current
economic climate.

Further, it's easier to train graphic designers in the art of
interaction design than it is to train interaction designers in the
art of graphic design. Especially when interaction designers see no
point of learning how to draw while graphic designers often crave to
learn more beyond the visual. I know my experience is anecdotal, but I
find many a graphic designer really wanting to learn to do more, and I
find a lot of interaction designers offended when I ask them if they
intend to learn visual skills.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

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

25 Sep 2008 - 12:25pm
Dave Malouf
2005

You're right. we are never going to agree to this, b/c I live in your
version of bizaro world. I just don't see any evidence to what you
are talking about at all. My universe is leaning towards greater
segmentation in both practice and education b/c of the failures of
people over generalizing and creating mediocrity.

I think YOU have combined them into yourself and YOU hunt for people
and situations that fit your world view. But through my career (not
quite as long as yours, but respectable in its diversity and breadth
and more importantly global reach) has taken me through the Valley,
through NY Advertising, NY Financial, French software, Global
hardware, and NY startup has all been about IxD segmentation instead
of general UI Design unification. And when I look at the educational
landscape today for IxD, ID and Interactive Design the segmentation
exists in everything except Interactive, but the graduates of
interactive are not sought by software or ID folks b/c they don't
understand them due to the lack of theoretical understanding and
design practice. Engineers with a 'sense' of aesthetics is how I
refer to them.

So I'll just let the rest of this discussion go then. B/c not only
do we disagree, but we have different lenses on making it impossible
to come to agreement.

Well, I agree that most of Google's products (actually including the
3 mentioned: are "good enough" and not really good.)

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=33500

25 Sep 2008 - 1:06pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Sep 25, 2008, at 10:25 AM, David Malouf wrote:

> You're right. we are never going to agree to this, b/c I live in your
> version of bizaro world. I just don't see any evidence to what you
> are talking about at all. My universe is leaning towards greater
> segmentation in both practice and education b/c of the failures of
> people over generalizing and creating mediocrity.

You keep associating what I think the job entails with "over
generalizing and creating mediocrity" when I have never stated or
claimed anything of the sort. I'm going to ask you again to stop
misrepresenting my position here, as I have many times now.

We can acknowledge that what I think the job entails might be asking a
lot, and can in some cases lead to what you think you see happening.
I'll happily grant you that assumption and claim. But given that what
I claim the job is all about has not been given its proper due yet, to
automatically associate my position here with failures of the current
design team models in many software companies is simply not fair.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

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

25 Sep 2008 - 2:01pm
Dave Malouf
2005

I'm not saying that YOU think it is a failure. I'm saying I THINK
generalizing is a failure thus far. But what I'm starting to see is
that you aren't describing the way things ARE, but rather the way
you want them to be in some ideal future. Is that right? I don't
agree with it, but it clarifies for me. But again at the crux is that
I see the discipline's intrinsic value as being wholly understood as
separate and that education and practice can combine with other
disciplines as makes sense for those specific contexts. You seem to
want to dictate that they should ALWAYS be a combined whole. Is that
right? there ain't nothing by big "D" design at both the
discipline and practice level? (notice I'm asking, not trying to put
words in your mouth.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=33500

25 Sep 2008 - 2:33pm
Kurt Krumme
2008

This is an issue that I've struggled with for years now, and
obviously many of you have as well. I think the sheer number of job
titles and their overlap is testament to this confusion: IxD, IA,
HCI, Interface Designer, Usability Engineer, Web Designer, etc.

I'll preface by saying that I tend to agree with Andrei.

In my experience, organizations looking for help with their online
initiatives are a lot like people looking for a good mechanic. If
you need a mechanic, then odds are you don't really know what makes
a good one until the end of the process, where your car either runs
well or doesn't.

Because of that, some organizations go the route of
over-generalization, "Need web guy, must be fantastic designer and
be able to develop in Ruby/PHP/PERL, etc." Others go the route of
assembling teams of very specialized people, many of whom overlap or
don't understand the demands of each-others jobs. This can just as
easily lead to mediocrity.

In my opinion, the question isn't exactly generalized vs. specific,
which is where this thread seems to have gone.

Andrei, I apologize if I misunderstand you, and please correct me if
I do, but I get the feeling that you're advocating an understanding
of design fundamentals to anyone seeking to do design work of any
kind. This is something I agree with heartily.

I don't think that design fundamentals necessarily equal graphic
design. They're more about what a designer is supposed to do (solve
problems) and how they approach that duty. To solve design problems,
a designer needs to understand the medium they're working in. The
web isn't paper, but it shares a lot of conventions with print
design, and many principles of typography, layout and colour theory
still apply. To that end, I think these disciplines are absolutely
required for someone to practice IxD effectively.

Sorry if I've missed the point... it was a LONG thread. :)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=33500

25 Sep 2008 - 3:22pm
jgould
2008

This is my first post here; what an interesting dialogue -- perhaps the animosity adds to it. ;-)

I can only speak from my 9 years experience at 4 interactive agencies that clients are becoming increasingly savvier as to the ins-and-outs of the interactive space as it relates to their business. As a result, specialized skills are the norm to act as proof points during the pitch process (and subsequent execution) so the project team can relate and deliver to the client in ways that breed confidence and exceed their expectations. I just can't see a generalist succeeding in selling those proof points to a savvy client partner.

From my perspective, there are only so many (non-billable) hours in a day for the UX/IA/ID Practitioner to become as knowledgeable as possible (theory- and execution-wise) in deliverables as diverse as usablity analysis documentation, site map and process flow structuring, detailed wireframing, facility in client-side coding, proficiency in usability testing, etc., etc., to be able to talk as well about Art Director / Graphic Designer specialties like typography and colour theory. I learn more with each UX/IA blog, eNewsletter, RSS feed, conference, training seminar, IM-and-email with colleagues, etc., in which I participate. And none of these have anything to do with the minutae of graphic design.

I can imagine this would be different in an academic curriculum, in which there are no clients, no budgets and no potentially-unworkable timelines (that need pushback). And I'm sure the stakes are different, and the skills involved are different, at an in-house position like a product manager or at a start-up. But in an agency environment, if you can't hold your own, you won't last long. So why should I struggle to become a client-facing expert in typography when there is an Art Director or Graphic Designer collaborating right beside me who can own it much better?

25 Sep 2008 - 3:17pm
diana aspillera
2008

Having taken a path similar to others here, starting out as a
graphic/web designer and evolving with the web towards doing more
interaction design, I find that there are challenges for both
strategies, being a generalist or specialist.

I personally crave to be a specialist, but having other skills like
drawing or coding allow me to be more thoroughly involved. Also,
going beyond the touch points of your area of specialization can be
an opportunity to refine your own skills in your specialty. For
example, it might be that some graphic designers can do some
beautiful, clear visual styling but a certain segment have more of an
itch to delve below the skin - and explore the added dimension of
interaction. Print designers are really missing out on this kind of
fun - I guess that makes up for the web's lesser typographical
control.

I digress - what I initially wanted to say, that when there is a team
of specialists, the challenge is communication. Hence lots of time
documenting and discussing. If there is some fantastical person who
can do both, they are far more instrumental in achieving the goals of
the project.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=33500

25 Sep 2008 - 5:39pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Sep 25, 2008, at 12:33 PM, Kurt Krumme wrote:

> Andrei, I apologize if I misunderstand you, and please correct me if
> I do, but I get the feeling that you're advocating an understanding
> of design fundamentals to anyone seeking to do design work of any
> kind. This is something I agree with heartily.

Yes, this is the general point.

> I don't think that design fundamentals necessarily equal graphic
> design. They're more about what a designer is supposed to do (solve
> problems) and how they approach that duty. To solve design problems,
> a designer needs to understand the medium they're working in. The
> web isn't paper, but it shares a lot of conventions with print
> design, and many principles of typography, layout and colour theory
> still apply. To that end, I think these disciplines are absolutely
> required for someone to practice IxD effectively.

Precisely.

When an interaction designer sits down and asks the visual designer to
"make the type bigger," without understanding what that actually means
across the board for the total design solution (how it affects line
length, rivers, pixel density and typographic color, the base grid
setup etc.), they are fundamentally crippled in their ability to
design the correct solution.

Same goes for a visual designer who thinks that if they change one
button on one screen only to look different than all the other buttons
without considering workflow consistency that it is somehow ok to do
that. That visual designer is crippled in their ability to design the
correct solution.

I don't code. I'm terrible at writing algorithms, or coming up with
JavaScript functions on my own. But if you sat me down with an
engineer who as speaking in terms of code, or showed me an existing
JavaScript function that did some behavior on the front end, I'd
understand easily what is going on with that engineer or I'd be able
to adjust the function for whatever new behavior I needed in a
prototype. That makes me a stronger designer. The ability to
understand the fundamentals of coding and software is what's key in
that example.

Understanding the fundamentals of graphic design makes people who want
to design interfaces of digital products stronger as well, regardless
if they are asked to perform that function on any particular project.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

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

25 Sep 2008 - 6:59pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Sep 25, 2008, at 12:27 PM, mark schraad wrote:

> That's odd. Over the last 10 years we have seen exactly the opposite.
> In spite of better software, making the capabilities more available,
> deep expertise is valued more in the marketplace than more general
> skillsets... at least at the tactical level.

I wrote about this years ago in a piece called Specialists vs.
Generalists:
http://tinyurl.com/2oba65

It's a matter of economics. Specialists exists in a world where the
economy has enough demand for specialized skills that it can support
them. Generalists exist in the rest of the world, where the economy
doesn't have enough demand for someone to work in a single area 100%
of the time.

And, as I said in the piece:

> Now, don’t make the mistake a lot of folks make and confuse
> *specialization* with *compartmentalization*. While the former is
> about having the majority of your experience in a single discipline,
> the latter is about only having experience in that discipline. While
> Dr. Margles prefers to work on hands and wrists, he could, if the
> need arose work on other areas. In fact, if he was the only doctor
> on the island, you’d want him to be the one to deliver the baby. And
> his medical training and experience would ensure he does it
> successfully.
>
> A compartmentalist isolates themselves from the other discipline
> around them, not really learning what they do or how they do it.
> Compartmentalism is bad for teams, because it means you have to have
> enough work to keep that individual busy within that discipline, and
> if needs shift or emergencies crop up, their value is dramatically
> diminished.

Jared

Jared M. Spool
User Interface Engineering
510 Turnpike St., Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
e: jspool at uie.com p: +1 978 327 5561
http://uie.com Blog: http://uie.com/brainsparks

25 Sep 2008 - 7:16pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Sep 25, 2008, at 4:59 PM, Jared Spool wrote:

> I wrote about this years ago in a piece called Specialists vs.
> Generalists

So what would have to say about generalists who have expertise in more
than one area? Would you call that another form of specialization?

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

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

25 Sep 2008 - 7:46pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Sep 25, 2008, at 8:16 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> On Sep 25, 2008, at 4:59 PM, Jared Spool wrote:
>
>> I wrote about this years ago in a piece called Specialists vs.
>> Generalists
>
> So what would have to say about generalists who have expertise in
> more than one area? Would you call that another form of
> specialization?

If I understand the question, I think you're asking about combined
specialization.

Physiatry is a great example. This is a unique specialization that is
made up of three other, previously completely unrelated,
specializations: neurotherapy, pain management, and rehabilitation
science. It's a growing specialty dealing with the long-term recovery
issues from physical and nervous-system trauma.

While it was founded during WWII, it wasn't really practiced in any
substantive way until the last 20 years or so. (Compare this to
anesthesiology, which goes back to the 1840s, or surgery, which has
been practiced since about 3300 BC. Physiatry is *new*.)

I expect we'll see combined specializations in UX emerging frequently
over the next few years. We're already seeing people who specialize in
both financial services UI design and user research. Or folks who
understand UX activities in gaming environments.

Again, the economics will need to make it work. If the gaming industry
can afford to hire these specialists and keep them busy 100% of the
time, the specialization will flourish. But there has to be enough
work within the organization to afford that.

Hope that helps clarify it,

Jared

Jared M. Spool
User Interface Engineering
510 Turnpike St., Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
e: jspool at uie.com p: +1 978 327 5561
http://uie.com Blog: http://uie.com/brainsparks

26 Sep 2008 - 2:12am
Jonas Löwgren
2003

We have been over this many times before, I am sure, but hopefully
the practice will make us better at stating constructive points
concisely. I'll try.

--------

- Interaction design as a discipline is fundamentally multidisciplinary.

- As a teacher, I claim good results from 10 years of recruiting
students from different backgrounds to our two-year master's program
in interaction design. Most common backgrounds are product design and
graphic design, computer science and programming, behavioral science,
and media studies. Some artists always show up as well. Portfolios
and interviews are crucial in picking the right people.

- Throughout the education, one of our goals is for the students to
"learn a common language" of interaction design and to understand the
contribution that other specialties bring to the design process.

- We tend to find that students are not fundamentally transformed
during the education -- a graphic design bachelor will still excel in
visual aspects of interface design, and will typically not become a
skilled ethnographer -- but as they reach the common-language/
understanding goal, they are able to communicate and collaborate
effectively in practical design.

--------

- I think there is a difference between adequate and outstanding
interaction design ability.

- Monospecialists trained in a multidisciplinary program like the one
I discussed above become capable of performing adequately in
multidisciplinary design teams.

- Outstanding design ability tends to correlate with a more profound
understanding of the design material. Here, I am thinking
specifically of two aspects of "understanding the material."

- One is the ability to "sketch interaction" by experimenting in code
(or hardware, for that matter). The point is that key qualities of
interaction design are in the interactive behavior over time. If you
want to design innovative interaction, you must be able to sketch
your ideas in forms that you can actually play with to judge how they
feel, in order to guide your further explorations. Wireframes,
storyboards, video scenarios, etc. are no substitutes for
experimental programming when it comes to designing innovative
interaction.

- The other is the sensibility to the aesthetics of interaction,
which are material-specific to some extent and have everything to do
with the feel of the interaction over time. Again, for standard-
compliant or idiom-based interactions this is not as big an issue as
it is for innovative interactions.

--------

- I notice that my last set of bullets seems to define outstanding
interaction design ability mainly in terms of innovativity. I am
actually happy with this interpretation, as I think a main aspiration
for any design discipline is to go beyond incremental design.

- But, of course, innovation in interaction design is nothing without
a rock-solid understanding of users and use practices in the design
sittuation.

- This is why the notion of genre should be recognized more generally
in interaction design (You wouldn't ask a productivity-app expert to
design a game, for example). But that is another thread, I guess.

--------

Hope this makes sense,

Jonas Löwgren

26 Sep 2008 - 9:32am
Jared M. Spool
2003

Really nicely put, Jonas. I think you're right on the money.

This one point jumped out at me:

On Sep 26, 2008, at 3:12 AM, Jonas Löwgren wrote:

> - I think there is a difference between adequate and outstanding
> interaction design ability.

This is true, no matter what you're talking about. There's a
difference between adequacy and excellence in architecture, medicine,
politics, and management.

And it's often overlooked by the foundations of the discipline. How do
you identify the excellent within the field? How do you extract what
makes them excel? How do you teach those elements to those that are
merely adequate (or worse)?

This is one of the key things we're looking into for UX. I don't have
any answers yet, but I think we've made some progress.

Jared

Jared M. Spool
User Interface Engineering
510 Turnpike St., Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
e: jspool at uie.com p: +1 978 327 5561
http://uie.com Blog: http://uie.com/brainsparks

26 Sep 2008 - 10:05am
Dave Malouf
2005

Yo Terry! I have to call "Foul!" on that one.
Let's be nice and respectful of each other. No need to be nasty.

-- dave

On Fri, Sep 26, 2008 at 10:59 AM, Terry Fitzgerald <
jterry.fitzgerald at gmail.com> wrote:

> If you've ever wondered what it's like to be perfect - Ask Andrei -
> apparently he has had the experience
>
> On Thu, Sep 25, 2008 at 8:28 AM, David Malouf <dave.ixd at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>> Andrei said. "We won't truly agree on much of the larger picture until you
>> change your stance that "interaction" designers need not understand fully
>> the fundamentals of graphic design as part of the job description. That
>> means the fundamentals of good typography, color theory and application,
>> composition, the grid, layout, etc. I'll let you off the hook in bringing
>> up
>> basic markup and scripting skills for now."
>>
>> To create compelling interfaces everything you said is TRUE. All those
>> skills are required.
>> Where we disagree is that all of them need to be in a single human being
>> and
>> that their conglomeration is equal to the discipline of interaction
>> design.
>>
>> I.e. in my industrial design shop I will never be an expert in 3D form,
>> though the form and even 3D behavior of the objects designed in the studio
>> are important to the overall interfacing between human and product and
>> well
>> that product as a mediator between the human and the underlying software
>> embedded in that 3D form. I'm also not an iconography so the labeling on
>> keypads is best done by someone else. But I do step in for the layout and
>> feel of the interface as it impacts HF and cognitive aspects.
>>
>> I think it is off to say that the practitioner needs to do everything.
>>
>> Now, back to education. Any interaction design program (bachelor's or
>> masters) should require the same design fundamentals that any industrial
>> designer or architect would go through. I'm sure this covers issues of
>> line
>> and color, but usually doesn't include issues of layout and type (graphic
>> design). I think your assumption that "graphic design" is always in the
>> domain of the interaction designer is a false one. But if an IxD knows
>> they
>> will be working in 2D systems as their primary canvas than sure, they
>> should
>> learn as much about 2D communication design as is required to communicate
>> the behavior of the interfaces they are designing. I don't expect them to
>> master 2D communication design any more than I would expect them to master
>> 3D product design.
>>
>> Now another way to look at the education piece, is that you could say that
>> Interaction Design is a specialty on top of 2D or 3D design education like
>> surgery on top of cardiology or surgery on top of neurology. Its surgery
>> with a ton of similarities between them regardless of anatomy, but within
>> specific anatomy areas, it requires very different craft skills.
>>
>> -- dave
>>
>>
>> --
>> David Malouf
>> http://synapticburn.com/
>> http://ixda.org/
>> http://motorola.com/
>> ________________________________________________________________
>> 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
>>
>
>
>
> --
> Regards
>
> Terry
>

--
David Malouf
http://synapticburn.com/
http://ixda.org/
http://motorola.com/

26 Sep 2008 - 11:31am
Donna Fritzsche
2005

Jonas,
Thank-you for one of the most articulate descriptions of interaction design
that I have seen. Your comments below on understanding, sensing, and
experimenting with the materials: medium + time are exceptionally well-
worded.
- Donna Fritzsche

On Fri, 26 Sep 2008 09:12:55 +0200, Jonas Löwgren wrote
> We have been over this many times before, I am sure, but hopefully
> <snip>...
> - Outstanding design ability tends to correlate with a more profound
> understanding of the design material. Here, I am thinking
> specifically of two aspects of "understanding the material."
>
> - One is the ability to "sketch interaction" by experimenting in
> code
> (or hardware, for that matter). The point is that key qualities of
> interaction design are in the interactive behavior over time. If
> you want to design innovative interaction, you must be able to
> sketch your ideas in forms that you can actually play with to judge
> how they feel, in order to guide your further explorations.
> Wireframes, storyboards, video scenarios, etc. are no substitutes
> for experimental programming when it comes to designing innovative
> interaction.
>
> - The other is the sensibility to the aesthetics of interaction,
> which are material-specific to some extent and have everything to do
> with the feel of the interaction over time. Again, for standard-
> compliant or idiom-based interactions this is not as big an issue
> as it is for innovative interactions.
>
> --------
>
> - I notice that my last set of bullets seems to define outstanding
> interaction design ability mainly in terms of innovativity. I am
> actually happy with this interpretation, as I think a main
> aspiration for any design discipline is to go beyond incremental design.
>
> - But, of course, innovation in interaction design is nothing
> without a rock-solid understanding of users and use practices in
> the design sittuation.
>
> - This is why the notion of genre should be recognized more
> generally in interaction design (You wouldn't ask a productivity-
> app expert to design a game, for example). But that is another
> thread, I guess.
>
> --------
>
> Hope this makes sense,
>
> Jonas Löwgren
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> 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

26 Sep 2008 - 11:52am
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Sep 26, 2008, at 12:12 AM, Jonas Löwgren wrote:

> We have been over this many times before, I am sure, but hopefully
> the practice will make us better at stating constructive points
> concisely. I'll try. ...

I agree. This post was pretty spot on. Especially with regard to
coding of some form to sketch out ideas.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

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

26 Sep 2008 - 1:03pm
adamya ashk
2004

Jonas,

I loved your post but as I read and reread it something bothered me.

You wrote:
> - One is the ability to "sketch interaction" by experimenting in code (or
> hardware, for that matter). The point is that key qualities of interaction
> design are in the interactive behavior over time. If you want to design
> innovative interaction, you must be able to sketch your ideas in forms that
> you can actually play with to judge how they feel, in order to guide your
> further explorations. Wireframes, storyboards, video scenarios, etc. are no
> substitutes for experimental programming when it comes to designing
> innovative interaction.

This is intriguing and I immediately saw your point. However, doing
this in practice gets progressively costly as the complexity of the
interaction increases. You are pointing to a need for a
'representational technique' for interaction design; a need that right
now can be only be fulfilled by coding or through tools such as iRise,
Axure or plain click throughs. Can there be other ways to meet this
need?

Imagine an architect is designing a house for you. The process of
design will take place in her mind as she considers your requirements
and the experiential flow of spaces desired. She can communicate her
ideas in ways that will add sufficiently to your understanding of her
design.

All of these would be poor substitutes for being able to walk through
the house. But because we are talking about physical space, we
intuitively understand an architects sketches, plans, walkthroughs
etc..

So, in essence, my question is: What makes 'innovative' interaction
schema so unique that we think we need actual prototypes? Is our
understanding of the medium is limited
in which case future generations will do better. Or is it a factor of
the nature of the 'material' and the fact that it's constantly
evolving?

I've experimented with many techniques in the past. Initially, I
relied solely on code/prototype to design but felt a little hamstrung.
As I grew more at home with the 'material' I learned better to
communicate my ideas on paper, whiteboard and through conversation. I
guess you could say I became a better 'visual communicator'. :-)

Regards,

-Adamya

26 Sep 2008 - 1:18pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Sep 26, 2008, at 11:03 AM, adamya ashk wrote:

> Imagine an architect is designing a house for you. The process of
> design will take place in her mind as she considers your requirements
> and the experiential flow of spaces desired. She can communicate her
> ideas in ways that will add sufficiently to your understanding of her
> design.
>
> All of these would be poor substitutes for being able to walk through
> the house. But because we are talking about physical space, we
> intuitively understand an architects sketches, plans, walkthroughs
> etc..

Architects and industrial designers have for decades now built scale
models of their work. And at minimum they sketch and render many
versions of the design in 3D perspective from various vantage points.
These days, it's common practice at many firms to build 3D flythroughs
of the design on the computer.

All of these approaches provide the means to make judgements about the
design and get a feel for it.

> So, in essence, my question is: What makes 'innovative' interaction
> schema so unique that we think we need actual prototypes?

I feel to this day people get concerned about being asked to learn
something new with regard to their job. In this case, coding and
scripting. I also think this is the incorrect way to approach the
problem.

The question isn't whether a prototype is needed for product design.
It clearly is, and all the evidence you need comes from every single
other design profession in existence. Architects, industrial design,
fashion design, graphic design, automobile design, the list goes on.

Once you accept that, then the question becomes: How do we make it
happen?

At Involution, we have dedicated developers who are experts at front-
end work. They also have major interest in the design and behavior of
that front end. They help the designers build prototypes during the
process, and in doing so, also help to teach the designers how to
build it themselves. It's an on-going process, and one that is fraught
with difficulty and will take a lot of time for those that haven't
trained themselves in coding or scripting, including myself.

But I firmly believe you have to dive into it if you want to make
progress in this regard. To do that, I think you have to embrace it,
not question if it is even needed. If you are questioning it, then you
are many steps removed from where you should be heading, imho.

> I've experimented with many techniques in the past. Initially, I
> relied solely on code/prototype to design but felt a little hamstrung.
> As I grew more at home with the 'material' I learned better to
> communicate my ideas on paper, whiteboard and through conversation. I
> guess you could say I became a better 'visual communicator'. :-)

That's all good, and highly encouraged. You're getting the hand drawn
sketching and rendering part that architects and industrial designers
do as well. That sketching process does *NOT* replace a scale model
nor a 3D flythrough. That's the key.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

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

26 Sep 2008 - 1:25pm
adamya ashk
2004

On 9/26/08, Andrei Herasimchuk <aherasimchuk at involutionstudios.com> wrote:
>...one that is fraught with difficulty and will take a
> lot of time for those that haven't trained themselves in coding or
> scripting, including myself.

But then you're only half a designer as I feel that it's imperative to
know how to code well before you can design.

;-) Just kidding (It's Friday)!

Regards.

26 Sep 2008 - 2:27pm
Dave Malouf
2005

while ID education requires modeling skills, most in practice today
have ...
1) 3D printers for SLA and Waxes (we don't have that, yet though
maybe Thermo will help)
2) There is an entire industry of "model makers" that supports ID
studios around the world.

It's funny here at Moto, we spend Thousands $$$$ on model making.
Various levels of fidelity throughout the process. (upwards of 6
figures for a single project for a single handheld computer). This is
common in consumer electronics so there is no secret here. When I
suggested that we hire out (or create internally) a similar "model
shop" with similar budgets for software, it was questioned deeply,
but the way I called it out, definitely couldn't be ignored.

Modeling is a key need for interactive systems. During education it
is crucial for people to be able to do high fidelity models in SOME
medium (its amazing what an ID can do with foam, glue and pain; never
includes the screen btw).

But in practice, it doesn't seem to scale very well for the designer
to be the modeler as well, especially when it gets to the point of
high fidelity (appearance) modeling. This isn't about ability, but
about process.

I also think the tools aren't there for us (or there is no agreement
on which tools work for what).

I loved Jonas' post for sure!

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=33500

26 Sep 2008 - 3:55pm
adamya ashk
2004

Seriously though,

Andrei wrote:
> Architects and industrial designers have for decades now built scale models
> of their work.....All of these approaches provide the means to make judgements about the
> design and get a feel for it....all the evidence you need comes from every single other
> design profession in existence. Architects, industrial design, fashion
> design, graphic design, automobile design, the list goes on.

I like to think I know something about this being qualified as an
architect and an industrial designer. I practiced both actively before
I caught the new media bug. :-)

> That's all good, and highly encouraged. You're getting the hand drawn
> sketching and rendering part that architects and industrial designers do as
> well. That sketching process does *NOT* replace a scale model nor a 3D
> flythrough. That's the key.

I think you're missing the point. Jonas wrote 'you need to mess around
in code so you can design innovative interaction'. I took that to be
similar to how I would mess around in plaster when I was doing a
'grip' and the tactile nature of the act would inform my design
process (chisel biting through and plaster flying...ah, those were the
days!).

Later on I got very good as visualizing the grip and didn't need to do
that so much. A simple sketch would do it for me. Off course the
client needs to see and feel it through a slick
model/flythrough/perspective but that is after the design act.

And off course there are rinse/repeat cycles later on....but as you
gain proficiency you do not need to, literally, feel the burn or
resistance of the material the first time through. Maybe you've
internalized the process and that's that.

In architecture, we had a concept that at a certain point in your
training you can virtually 'see' the building on paper, as it would
show up on the site. Similar to how you can probably 'see' an
interaction schema in your mind. If this visualization didn't exist
you'd see far too many architects messing around with bricks :-) Not
to say that this would be a bad thing.

So is messing around in plaster/code essential for the ID/IxD to form
design sensibility?
Absolutely!
Is it the only way?
No.

This has been fun.

-Adamya

26 Sep 2008 - 4:02pm
Jeff Howard
2004

I'd just like to counter for a moment the notion that digital
interactions are unique in their dependence on prototypes, that
architectural interactions can't be prototyped or that this form of
learning is available only for simple interactions.

The most recent high-profile example of a full-scale prototype is
probably the Apple Store, but lots of organizations experiment with
full-scale prototypes that shed light on their internal interactions.
Bank of America runs experimental branches in Atlanta. David
Weinberger describes a full-size, functioning Staples prototype store
in his book Everything is Miscellaneous. Kaiser Permamente and the
Mayo Clinic both prototype on this level.

Companies also regularly prototype full size interiors for things
like aircraft or trains. IDEO did this for Acela and Henry Dreyfuss
wrote about working with full-scale prototypes for airlines in
Designing for People.

Service design in particular relies on full-scale working prototypes.
It's often impossible to evaluate the interactions involved without
actually building them out. Southwest airlines took this approach
when they were experimenting with assigned seats by prototyping the
service in one or two airports.

Depending on experience to acquire understanding isn't a limitation
of digital interactions. It's a limitation of being human.

// jeff

adamya wrote:
> All of these would be poor substitutes for being able
> to walk through the house. But because we are talking
> about physical space, we intuitively understand
> an architects sketches, plans, walkthroughs etc...
> So, in essence, my question is: What makes 'innovative'
> interaction schema so unique that we think we need
> actual prototypes?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=33500

26 Sep 2008 - 4:15pm
Jeff Howard
2004

There's also a parallel with the plaster analogy in the design of
complex spatial interactions called "bodystorming." Doing with
physical space and human beings what you're describing with the
plaster and chisel. This type of prototyping is probably more in the
spirit of what Jonas was originally talking about.

// jeff

adamya wrote:
> I took that to be similar to how I would mess around
> in plaster when I was doing a 'grip' and the tactile
> nature of the act would inform my design process (chisel
> biting through and plaster flying...ah, those were
> the days!).

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=33500

26 Sep 2008 - 4:16pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Sep 26, 2008, at 1:55 PM, adamya ashk wrote:

> I like to think I know something about this being qualified as an
> architect and an industrial designer. I practiced both actively before
> I caught the new media bug. :-)

Good to hear then.

> Later on I got very good as visualizing the grip and didn't need to do
> that so much. A simple sketch would do it for me. Off course the
> client needs to see and feel it through a slick
> model/flythrough/perspective but that is after the design act.
>
> And off course there are rinse/repeat cycles later on....but as you
> gain proficiency you do not need to, literally, feel the burn or
> resistance of the material the first time through. Maybe you've
> internalized the process and that's that.

Maybe. I've been designing software for almost two decades now... and
I still find a lot of utility in building it, no matter similar the
problems are from product to product.

What I find are that I can cut through the easier problems faster, and
as one builds a library of work to start from, it makes it easier to
try bigger and bolder things in the prototyping phase.

> In architecture, we had a concept that at a certain point in your
> training you can virtually 'see' the building on paper, as it would
> show up on the site. Similar to how you can probably 'see' an
> interaction schema in your mind. If this visualization didn't exist
> you'd see far too many architects messing around with bricks :-) Not
> to say that this would be a bad thing.

I think you answered your own question there.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

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

27 Sep 2008 - 3:18am
netwiz
2010

On Fri, 26 Sep 2008 10:32:30 -0400, Jared wrote:

>And it's often overlooked by the foundations of the discipline. How do
>you identify the excellent within the field? How do you extract what
>makes them excel? How do you teach those elements to those that are
>merely adequate (or worse)?
>
>This is one of the key things we're looking into for UX. I don't have
>any answers yet, but I think we've made some progress.

Would you care to share some thoughts about that progress?

* Nick Gassman - Usability and Standards Manager - http://ba.com *

27 Sep 2008 - 6:30am
adamya ashk
2004

Jeff wrote:
> The most recent high-profile example of a full-scale prototype is
> probably the Apple Store, but lots of organizations experiment with
> full-scale prototypes that shed light on their internal interactions.

I think they are refining design (rinse/repeat) rather than exploring.
I most cases, any kind of full scale prototyping is prohibitively
expensive and there are limits to how many times you can move stuff
around. Exploration is much cheaper with a scaled model. Even cheaper
are representational techniques.

Let's take one more look at what is being talked about here.
Jonas wrote:
> - One is the ability to "sketch interaction" by experimenting in code (or
> hardware, for that matter). The point is that key qualities of interaction
> design are in the interactive behavior over time. If you want to design
> innovative interaction, you must be able to sketch your ideas in forms that
> you can actually play with to judge how they feel, in order to guide your
> further explorations. Wireframes, storyboards, video scenarios, etc. are no
> substitutes for experimental programming when it comes to designing
> innovative interaction

My position on this is slightly different. An ability to code is
important but not a 'must'. What's really important is an
'understanding' of the material. Requiring ability to code is a bit
like saying you must know rules of grammar to write moving poetry. You
don't.

We have found that (in our context) it is faster to 'explore' by
quickly sketching on whiteboards while talking through the
interaction. Sure, we could make a prototype. But that takes time.
Since, we know what is possible, the extra value that a prototype adds
is marginal.

> David Weinberger describes a full-size, functioning Staples prototype store
> in his book Everything is Miscellaneous.

I know something about that too. :-)

> Depending on experience to acquire understanding isn't a limitation
> of digital interactions. It's a limitation of being human.

Yes, as long as we acknowledge that the nature of that experience can
be diverse.

-Adamya Ashk
Director Usability
Staples E-commerce

27 Sep 2008 - 9:04am
Challis Hodge
2003

I would contend that you're both right. If you factor in the various
forces at work here: social, cultural, technological change that bring
on specialization. along with business and economic fluctuations that
call for generalization, I think you'll find an ongoing cycle where
specialization blooms only to recede back to a comfortable equilibrium
of generalization...rinse and repeat! See the infamous 'overly complex
diagram to communicate a simple concept' here:

http://www.challishodge.com/models_ebb-flow.html

-challis

On Thu, Sep 25, 2008 at 1:25 PM, David Malouf <dave at ixda.org> wrote:
> You're right. we are never going to agree to this, b/c I live in your
> version of bizaro world. I just don't see any evidence to what you
> are talking about at all. My universe is leaning towards greater
> segmentation in both practice and education b/c of the failures of
> people over generalizing and creating mediocrity.
>
> I think YOU have combined them into yourself and YOU hunt for people
> and situations that fit your world view. But through my career (not
> quite as long as yours, but respectable in its diversity and breadth
> and more importantly global reach) has taken me through the Valley,
> through NY Advertising, NY Financial, French software, Global
> hardware, and NY startup has all been about IxD segmentation instead
> of general UI Design unification. And when I look at the educational
> landscape today for IxD, ID and Interactive Design the segmentation
> exists in everything except Interactive, but the graduates of
> interactive are not sought by software or ID folks b/c they don't
> understand them due to the lack of theoretical understanding and
> design practice. Engineers with a 'sense' of aesthetics is how I
> refer to them.
>
> So I'll just let the rest of this discussion go then. B/c not only
> do we disagree, but we have different lenses on making it impossible
> to come to agreement.
>
> Well, I agree that most of Google's products (actually including the
> 3 mentioned: are "good enough" and not really good.)
>
> -- dave
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=33500
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> 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
>

29 Sep 2008 - 2:18am
Jonas Löwgren
2003

Thanks to all of you who have engaged in this thread -- it is growing
into what I find to be a very interesting collective reflection on
the nature of professional design knowledge.

There were two quotes in particular that I would like to pick up on.

Andrei:
> Maybe. I've been designing software for almost two decades now...
> and I still find a lot of utility in building it, no matter similar
> the problems are from product to product.
>
> What I find are that I can cut through the easier problems faster,
> and as one builds a library of work to start from, it makes it
> easier to try bigger and bolder things in the prototyping phase.

Adamya:
> My position on this is slightly different. An ability to code is
> important but not a 'must'. What's really important is an
> 'understanding' of the material. Requiring ability to code is a bit
> like saying you must know rules of grammar to write moving poetry. You
> don't.
>
> We have found that (in our context) it is faster to 'explore' by
> quickly sketching on whiteboards while talking through the
> interaction. Sure, we could make a prototype. But that takes time.
> Since, we know what is possible, the extra value that a prototype adds
> is marginal.

I read these as saying that building proficiency in design involves
developing what design theorists would call a repertoire, a
collection of guiding or exemplary ideas that the designer
internalizes throughout her practice and then "leafs through" by
visualizations or purely mental envisioning when faced with a new
design situation.

In terms of the repertoire concept, my position becomes simply that:

- Interaction design has its own material and thus its own
repertoires. (Duh!)

- Building a repertoire can certainly be done in several ways, as
Adamya points out, but in my experience as teacher and designer, the
most efficient and innovation-conducive way seems to be to work
exploratively in the actual material ("mess around with experimental
code").

It is interesting to reflect on Adamya's point that hands-on can
gradually be replaced with more sketchy and indicative visualizations
as the designer (or the design team) builds a workable repertoire
within the genre in question. My spin on this would be that in such
situations, the quick sketches can serve as shorthand symbols evoking
richer repertoire elements, both in the case of the individual
designer having a "conversation" with her sketches and in the case
where a team collaborates around, e.g., a whiteboard.

Finally, I apologize to Jeff if I came across as saying that only
interaction design concerns itself with interactive experience. I am
very well aware of how architecture and product design has dealt with
the issues for many years, through full-scale modelling,
envisionments and enactments, mockup-based bodystorming, and more.
Interaction design can learn a lot from these practices, and it is my
impression that in the last 10 years or so, we have started to learn.

I still maintain, though, that our material is more temporal than the
traditional materials of architecture and product design. This
follows from the mutability and malleability of digital information.
To be specific, I believe that the detailed look-and-feel of an
innovative, moderately complex, interaction technique normally cannot
be designed and judged properly unless it is implemented in
experimental code and/or hardware.

Regards,
Jonas Löwgren

5 Oct 2008 - 11:08am
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Sep 27, 2008, at 4:18 AM, Nick Gassman wrote:

> On Fri, 26 Sep 2008 10:32:30 -0400, Jared wrote:
>
>> And it's often overlooked by the foundations of the discipline. How
>> do
>> you identify the excellent within the field? How do you extract what
>> makes them excel? How do you teach those elements to those that are
>> merely adequate (or worse)?
>>
>> This is one of the key things we're looking into for UX. I don't have
>> any answers yet, but I think we've made some progress.
>
> Would you care to share some thoughts about that progress?

Sharing research in progress is like eating raw cake ingredients. It
has all the pieces, but not in the form that works.

We've started sharing some of it in our presentations (such as in my
IA Summit keynote here: http://is.gd/3ynf).

Needless to say, once it's in a form we feel comfortable pushing out,
we won't be keeping it a secret!

Thanks for encouraging our behavior,

Jared

Jared M. Spool
User Interface Engineering
510 Turnpike St., Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
e: jspool at uie.com p: +1 978 327 5561
http://uie.com Blog: http://uie.com/brainsparks

Syndicate content Get the feed