RE: How to Get Into Interaction Design?

27 Jan 2004 - 1:09pm
10 years ago
14 replies
1142 reads
Christian Simon
2003

Or, How DID u get into interaction design?
For many programmers HCI is a relevant career move. My background is in
graphic design. I¹ve worked print graphics and corporate communication
design. I believe there are relevant comparisons between this and HCI. I¹m
self-taught in HCI principals and have applied these to an assortment of
related projects.

I started with print layout and in the corporate setting. So, I was doing
brochures, trade show signage, logos or posters. Occasionally the internal
client would have a special project- something that was outside of the
predefined style guides. Like a package that didn't have to be tied to a
precedent project, there may be other components, too. All used graphic
conventions and use needs that had to satisfy branding constraints, clients
needs. Collecting requirements, envisioning the end user, satisfying
existing constraints were all design factors I knew well by the time web
graphics were being handled within my little area of the company. There were
some unique problems where we borrowed steps from software design, but I
knew these only as design-tricks to impress my art director and keep
attention in meetings on me. <ehehe>

I'm coming to HCI by way of graphics to print to web to user interface. Most
of my HCI portfolio is unique projects with graphic needs. I didn't really
learn about HCI until I started to use Flash and the possibilities
necessitated a deeper understanding of navigation. It was Flash that
introduced me to making bad software look good. I've been hooked ever since.

I've made myself into a UI designer from these special projects. For me,
breaking into HCI means I have to position myself carefully. It's a
challenge to find business environments that I fit into. For me, grad school
has been suggested as the only way I can continue to evolve as a UI
designer. Financially this is impossible, so I join groups like this list,
keeping up with the ideas and language of UI design.

Any other peeps on the list have a similar background?

___________________________________________________________________
Christian Simon | www.christiansimon.com | San Francisco Bay Area
___________________________________________________________________

Comments

27 Jan 2004 - 6:50pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Hi Christian,

I like this question ... I think most of us got here in round about
ways, though there are a few who took the more professional route.

Me? I'm a dot-com'er through and through. I started in this biz in '94
as a researcher for NetGuide which led me to become the technology
consultant for their online service. I knew how to FTP! That was the
requirement. I then taught myself HTML W3C 1.0HTML (heh heh heh); pre
Netscape. Then from there instantly became a "web designer" ("would you
like htat image w/ or w/o a border and aligned left or right; "You know
how to align text to an image?!?"). I then was a UI Designer, Producer,
Technology specialist, back to Front End Technologist, (Oh! This isn't
counting my short stint as a CEO; I mean SHORT!), and then my career
really began when I became the Director of Information Architecture at
a consultancy. I was an IA for 2 years and then a UI Designer at an
enterprise software company in CA and am now a Principal Designer
leading the Product Design group of an ASP (back at a dot-com!)

You could say I am self taught, but that is not exactly accurate. I have
had great friends, and probably and mostly taught by the wonderful
online community, especially those on lists like this one (which is why
I believe in this stuff so much) and by just stealing ... Ahem ... I
mean gaining inspiration from ... Great work that is already out there.

I hope others share in their path's to the glory of IxD w/ the rest of
us. I think sometimes we oft feel we are under credentialed b/c many of
us came from related fields or are grassroots such as myself. But a good
portfolio and a descent creative mind and a good understanding of
behavior and people goes a long way to the making of a good designer.
... Now where is that application to the Cooper practicum again?

-- dave

David Heller
dave at interactiondesigners.com
http://interactiondesigners.com/
http://webgui.htmhell.com/
http://htmhell.com/

AIM: bolinhanyc
Y!: dave_ux
MSN: hippiefunk at hotmail.com

27 Jan 2004 - 11:09pm
Todd Warfel
2003

On Jan 27, 2004, at 6:50 PM, David Heller wrote:

> I hope others share in their path's to the glory of IxD w/ the rest of
> us.

Well, my path is a combination of professional education, self
education, and professional experience.

I actually started out in Graphic Design in college, but quickly turned
to English (Creative Writing) and Cognitive Psychology. At the time,
back in 1990, the Web was nothing more than a VAX terminal - amber on
black. So, interface design wasn't much of a thought for me. My how
that's changed. I did, however, want to get into an ad agency, or
something similar and figured if I couldn't do it through design, then
I'd do it as a copywriter. The cognitive psych thing was simply because
I enjoyed figuring out how people think and why.

So, all the while I was studying English and Psych, I was doing
freelance design work on the side. Still wanted to hang onto that
design side for some reason. Education in English and Cognitive Psych,
practical experience in design. Didn't really make sense at the time.
Imagine the reactions I got with "well, my background is in design, but
my education is in English and Cognitive Psychology."

Looking back, I couldn't have done it any better had I planned it that
way. I use the writing and Cog Psych stuff daily.

I had started to see the potential in the Web as a growing, changing
medium in early 1994. A few stints at two agencies as a Graphic
Designer and Interactive Art Director, then started my own company -
Calypso Studios, one of the first branding and user experience firms
around - back in 1995. We did some work for some big names like Apple,
Adobe, Macromedia, and Xerox, and some smaller startups like
ChannelSeek, Applix, and ThinAirApps (now part of Palm). It really
helps when you know people.

Then my wife and I decided to leave the midwest for Boston, where I
took an extended stint at an iTV dot.com. I was in charge of User
Experience for the Web site, intranet, and the various applications for
the product. We invented some really slick stuff. But, like many other
dot.comers, I saw the writing on the wall and it was time to move on.
Shortly after I left, most of the key individuals did as well - a mass
exodus. The company went from 90 to 30 in the matter of a few weeks.

Now, I'm back to being a principal partner in a small consultancy again
and I love it. We're a bit more specialized now - user research, IA,
interaction design, and usability. We don't do much visual design or
branding.

And along the way - a lot of reading (e.g. Cooper, Tom Kelly of IDOE,
Tog, Taz, Nielson, Spool, Hillman Curtis, Joshua Davis, Brenden Dawes)
- just about anything I can get my hands on in regards to UX. I'm also
particularly interested in Flash books. I've got about 15 on my shelf,
most of which are half read. I love the environment, just don't find
many cases to use it outside of prototyping or experimental work.
However, occasionally, a project arises where Flash is the best method.

Now, if I can just find time to finish writing that book...

Cheers!

Todd R. Warfel
User Experience Architect
MessageFirst | making products easier to use
--------------------------------------
Contact Info
voice: (607) 339-9640
email: twarfel at messagefirst.com
web: www.messagefirst.com
aim: twarfel at mac.com
--------------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.
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28 Jan 2004 - 2:53am
Omri Eliav
2004

On Jan 27, 2004 Christian Simon wrote:
"Any other peeps on the list have a similar background?" (Graphic Design)

Yes, I do.

My formal education is visual communications, only, I had the luck to work with software and web, soon after school.
I was practice interaction design without knowing I am doing so (or without knowing what I'm doing :-).
It's a process that evolved in the last years that made me aware of my personal passion to it, and so, to position myself as one (both in term of employment and knowledge).

I can feel your pain. I have difficulties finding the business environment to fit into as well, though I see that career move as very natural and relevant one. I guess I'm still in the process and it's a war I have to fight.

Sometimes, I penetrate as a Trojan horse with a nice visual disguise. Or if you will, use my added values...

Good luck everyone
--Omri
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28 Jan 2004 - 3:40pm
Christian Simon
2003

> I can feel your pain. I have difficulties finding the business environment to
> fit into as well, though I see that career move as very natural and relevant
> one. I guess I'm still in the process and it's a war I have to fight.
> --Omri

For me it is as much frustration. Until I learn about a company I do not
know if I am a fit in their office. I have gone to an interview for visual
design and said I also do interaction design. Then I discover that their
department is structured where I would never get to do interaction, just
design buttons and backgrounds. But, this is only clear at interview. Web
sites do not talk about the office culture. Knowing more from places like
this forum helps me to understand the differences.

Sounds like its just you and me Omri with the visual design background (^_^)

The most interesting for me in the responses are the distinctions of
interaction architect and interaction designer in people's backgrounds.
These tags being more recent. Since I have a different background, this is
new to me. I understand the terms are new, but I get a sense that the
meaning is new, too.

A spin off question, is there a watershed moment in software that qualified
the distinction of interaction designers to programmers and marketing?

Cheers,
Xtian

28 Jan 2004 - 5:03pm
Jenifer Tidwell
2003

I came from the opposite direction: software engineering. In some
sense, I'm still there; but I consider myself more of a designer
than an engineer.

When I started working after getting my degree in CS, I had no
intention of doing anything in the HCI area. MIT's engineering
curriculum for undergraduates did not teach HCI at all (and still
doesn't, if I understand correctly). But I'd almost minored in
cognitive science, had taken classes in art and anthropology,
and had done lots of informal design work -- so I'd unwittingly
set myself up for a career in HCI!

A year out of school, I was asked to help design and build a new
GUI for my team's product. I quickly discovered how rewarding it
was, and embarked upon a never-ending cycle of self-teaching,
courses, and learning from experience. Eventually I took two
years' worth of part-time classes at the Massachusetts College
of Art, to make up for the studio classes I'd never had.

My experience has been mostly with complex desktop applications,
usually dealing with technical matters (data analysis, process
control, integrated desktop environments, math, etc.). Despite
having built my first home page in 1994, I missed the Web boat --
first by waiting in vain for the programming tools to get better,
then by spending my time at a client-side tech company that, for
all practical purposes, failed. Oh well! (I still don't believe
that Web design is an entirely new animal -- a new *combination*
of older design ideas, perhaps, and it enables new forms of media
and community, but it's still grounded in design principles that
have been known for a while. I agree with Andrei on this point.)

The companies I've worked in have never defined the role of an
"interaction designer" (or UX designer, or even UI designer). If
they had, I'd have asked for that title... but there has been
institutional resistance to it when I ask anyway. Most places
just have engineers, with the occasional usability specialist
and/or graphic designer. Wherever I go, my coworkers think of me
as a software engineer, and little else. It always takes work to
convince them that I can do the "soft stuff" too, despite what's
on my resume.

But I have to say -- the lure of programming is too strong for
me to leave it altogether. And doing both design and construction
is incredibly rewarding! IxD and user-centered design principles
can be applied right from the get-go, and remain relevant all the
way through the final release of a product.

Because of my dual skillsets, I can take a more holistic approach
to product design and software craftsmanship than most people can.
I think that's helped get better software into our users' hands. I
sure hope so, anyway.

- Jenifer

--------------------------------------------
Jenifer Tidwell
w: jtidwell at mathworks.com
h: jtidwell at alum.mit.edu
http://jtidwell.net

28 Jan 2004 - 2:06pm
Massimo Banzi
2004

Hello all

I can suggest one good way to get into Interaction Design, you could
apply
to the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea.

Admissions are open for next year, check out
http://www.interaction-ivrea.it/en/education/admissions/index.asp

I think the website does a pretty good job at describing what we do and
the kind of
cool people we work with.

have fun

massimo

--
Massimo Banzi <m.banzi at interaction-ivrea.it>
Associate Professor of Technology
Interaction Design Institute Ivrea
http://www.interaction-ivrea.it
Via Montenavale, 1 - 10015 Ivrea (TO), Italy

28 Jan 2004 - 11:17pm
Thea
2004

Hello all,

Any of you considering upgrading or gaining qualifications in the HCI field
could have a look at this program http://www.uq.edu.au/human-factors-online

It is fully online so you can do it from anywhere in the world but there is
dynamic online community participation as part of the course so that you
have the opportunity to air ideas and opinions and learn from others (like
we all do on this list). We are currently developing further HCI courses to
allow people to specialise in this field, which is what most of our current
students are doing.

The academic year runs from March-November so semester 1 will start in a
few weeks and enrolments are still open now. Semester two will start at the
end of July.

All the best,

Thea Blackler
Lecturer
Key Centre for Human Factors and Cognitive Psychology
University of Queensland
Australia

At 10:09 AM 27/01/2004 -0800, Christian Simon wrote:
>Or, How DID u get into interaction design?
>For many programmers HCI is a relevant career move. My background is in
>graphic design. I¹ve worked print graphics and corporate communication
>design. I believe there are relevant comparisons between this and HCI. I¹m
>self-taught in HCI principals and have applied these to an assortment of
>related projects.
>
>I started with print layout and in the corporate setting. So, I was doing
>brochures, trade show signage, logos or posters. Occasionally the internal
>client would have a special project- something that was outside of the
>predefined style guides. Like a package that didn't have to be tied to a
>precedent project, there may be other components, too. All used graphic
>conventions and use needs that had to satisfy branding constraints, clients
>needs. Collecting requirements, envisioning the end user, satisfying
>existing constraints were all design factors I knew well by the time web
>graphics were being handled within my little area of the company. There were
>some unique problems where we borrowed steps from software design, but I
>knew these only as design-tricks to impress my art director and keep
>attention in meetings on me. <ehehe>
>
>I'm coming to HCI by way of graphics to print to web to user interface. Most
>of my HCI portfolio is unique projects with graphic needs. I didn't really
>learn about HCI until I started to use Flash and the possibilities
>necessitated a deeper understanding of navigation. It was Flash that
>introduced me to making bad software look good. I've been hooked ever since

Thea Blackler
PhD Candidate
P/T Lecturer in Industrial Design
School of Design and Built Environment
Queensland University of Technology
CRICOS No 00213J.

29 Jan 2004 - 10:14am
Dan Saffer
2003

On Wednesday, January 28, 2004, at 02:06 PM, Massimo Banzi wrote:

> Hello all
>
> I can suggest one good way to get into Interaction Design, you could
> apply
> to the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea.
>

Or to Carnegie Mellon's Interaction Design Program.

http://www.cmu.edu/cfa/design/admissions/graduate-info/mdes.html

Deadline for Fall is February 1.

Dan

Dan Saffer
M.Des. Candidate, Interaction Design
Carnegie Mellon University
http://www.odannyboy.com

29 Jan 2004 - 10:21am
Robert Reimann
2003

The IIT/Institute of Design's program in Chicago
is the other one I'd add to these two excellent
programs.

Robert.

-----Original Message-----
From: Dan Saffer [mailto:dan at odannyboy.com]
Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2004 10:15 AM
To: <discuss-interactiondesigners.com at lists.interactiondesigners.com>
<discuss-interactiondesigners.com at lists.interactiondesigners.com>
Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] RE: How to Get Into Interaction Design?

On Wednesday, January 28, 2004, at 02:06 PM, Massimo Banzi wrote:

> Hello all
>
> I can suggest one good way to get into Interaction Design, you could
> apply
> to the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea.
>

Or to Carnegie Mellon's Interaction Design Program.

http://www.cmu.edu/cfa/design/admissions/graduate-info/mdes.html

Deadline for Fall is February 1.

Dan

Dan Saffer
M.Des. Candidate, Interaction Design
Carnegie Mellon University
http://www.odannyboy.com

29 Jan 2004 - 10:31am
Megan Fath
2004

Agreed. I am a recent graduate of the IIT/Institute of Design program
and can certainly vouch for it. :)

www.id.iit.edu

They have a number of open houses coming up if you are interested.

-- Megan Fath

On Jan 29, 2004, at 9:21 AM, Reimann, Robert wrote:

>
> The IIT/Institute of Design's program in Chicago
> is the other one I'd add to these two excellent
> programs.
>
> Robert.
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Dan Saffer [mailto:dan at odannyboy.com]
> Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2004 10:15 AM
> To: <discuss-interactiondesigners.com at lists.interactiondesigners.com>
> <discuss-interactiondesigners.com at lists.interactiondesigners.com>
> Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] RE: How to Get Into Interaction Design?
>
>
>
> On Wednesday, January 28, 2004, at 02:06 PM, Massimo Banzi wrote:
>
>> Hello all
>>
>> I can suggest one good way to get into Interaction Design, you could
>> apply
>> to the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea.
>>
>
> Or to Carnegie Mellon's Interaction Design Program.
>
> http://www.cmu.edu/cfa/design/admissions/graduate-info/mdes.html
>
> Deadline for Fall is February 1.
>
> Dan
>
>
>
> Dan Saffer
> M.Des. Candidate, Interaction Design
> Carnegie Mellon University
> http://www.odannyboy.com
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
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> --
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> --
> Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements
> already)
> http://interactiondesigners.com/announceList/
> --
> http://interactiondesigners.com/
>

29 Jan 2004 - 10:55am
hans samuelson
2003

To add to this list of schools, Umea has a program which has generated
some interesting work. The Scandinavian approach might be
particularly good for those attracted by more socially grounded
theories or by CSCW.

http://www.dh.umu.se/default.asp?sida=94

Hans Samuelson

30 Jan 2004 - 4:23am
H Taylor
2004

Carnegie Mellon's program has an excellent reputation (which Dan seems to
suggest is well-earned); Ivrea's program is fairly new (if I'm not mistaken)
but looks interesting.

However, Carnegie Mellon's program is currently over $26,000 per year for a
two year program (so, over $50,000 for tuition cost alone). Ivrea's program
is also 2 years and is currently 25,000EUR per year (at current exchange
rates, that's a little over $62,000, though it does include student
housing).

For me, attending either of these programs would be a dream; I would gladly
invest 2 years of my life in something like that. But with theses costs, I
would never be able to realize this dream.

-Hal

On Wednesday, January 28, 2004, at 02:06 PM, Massimo Banzi wrote:
>
>> Hello all
>>
>> I can suggest one good way to get into Interaction Design, you could
>> apply
>> to the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea.
>>

To which Dan Saffer replied:

> Or to Carnegie Mellon's Interaction Design Program.
>
> http://www.cmu.edu/cfa/design/admissions/graduate-info/mdes.html
>
> Deadline for Fall is February 1.
>
> Dan

28 Jan 2004 - 10:59am
FelcanSmith, Mark
2004

This is somewhat therapeutic, the online psyche couch if you will.

>
>I hope others share in their path's to the glory of IxD w/ the rest of
>us. I think sometimes we oft feel we are under credentialed b/c many of
>us came from related fields or are grassroots such as myself.

I really have to thank band mate of mine...we we're in a rock band
together and his job was to fly around the world shooting HI-8 video of
landscapes. He'd bring it back to the *office*, digitize it and then
create 3D driving games. My job at that point was, well less glamorous.
I thought to myself for about 2 seconds and said, I can do that! Went
back to school, and got immediately involved in desktop video
production. This was before multi-media was even a buzzword.

I took quickly to a newer application called Director, and an even newer
one called StrataStudio (3D modeling). My patience wore thin with 3D, as
my screaming PowerMac 6100 (remember the old pizza box?) had a 040
processor (or something like that) in it. Waiting all night to see my
image render a 360 degree rotation was not my idea of gratification. I
moved to 2D design, and while coding in Director really came to
appreciate user interface design (and at that point, it was really
interaction design - we just didn't call it that). Photoshop...ah
Photoshop, who remembers their first encounter with that program?
Ah...anyway, while working on CD-ROM presentations and interactives, add
a stint doing motion graphics for a post-production house, I became
their interactive designer/developer (and in 95 their Web designer).
This all seemed like a natural progression.

Directing a product design department in San Diego for a few years
during the dot-com area gave me an opportunity to really dig into
application design, and have been hooked ever since. Less visual design
than what I used to do...but much more inline with my desire to continue
to grow my experiences with information design and architecture,
interaction design, usability engineering, and a more comprehensive UX
skill set.

Self-taught, yes, reading lots of books on the various disciplines, yes,
having an opportunity to actually practice these various disciplines in
real world situations, fortunately yes...but as others have said,
without the great community out there, and their willingness to share
information, I wouldn't be where I am today. Practicing a truly engaging
discipline, and very happy doing the work I do. SO thanks to all of you
who helped me get to where I am. (you don't know who you are, but take
credit anyway. ;)

Cheers,
Mark

28 Jan 2004 - 3:47pm
FelcanSmith, Mark
2004

This is somewhat therapeutic, the online psyche couch if you will.

>
>I hope others share in their path's to the glory of IxD w/ the rest of
>us. I think sometimes we oft feel we are under credentialed b/c many of
>us came from related fields or are grassroots such as myself.

I really have to thank band mate of mine...we we're in a rock band
together and his job was to fly around the world shooting HI-8 video of
landscapes. He'd bring it back to the *office*, digitize it and then
create 3D driving games. My job at that point was, well less glamorous.
I thought to myself for about 2 seconds and said, I can do that! Went
back to school, and got immediately involved in desktop video
production. This was before multi-media was even a buzzword.

I took quickly to a newer application called Director, and an even newer
one called StrataStudio (3D modeling). My patience wore thin with 3D, as
my screaming PowerMac 6100 (remember the old pizza box?) had a 040
processor (or something like that) in it. Waiting all night to see my
image render a 360 degree rotation was not my idea of gratification. I
moved to 2D design, and while coding in Director really came to
appreciate user interface design (and at that point, it was really
interaction design - we just didn't call it that). Photoshop...ah
Photoshop, who remembers their first encounter with that program?
Ah...anyway, while working on CD-ROM presentations and interactives, add
a stint doing motion graphics for a post-production house, I became
their interactive designer/developer (and in 95 their Web designer).
This all seemed like a natural progression.

Directing a product design department in San Diego for a few years
during the dot-com area gave me an opportunity to really dig into
application design, and have been hooked ever since. Less visual design
than what I used to do...but much more inline with my desire to continue
to grow my experiences with information design and architecture,
interaction design, usability engineering, and a more comprehensive UX
skill set.

Self-taught, yes, reading lots of books on the various disciplines, yes,
having an opportunity to actually practice these various disciplines in
real world situations, fortunately yes...but as others have said,
without the great community out there, and their willingness to share
information, I wouldn't be where I am today. Practicing a truly engaging
discipline, and very happy doing the work I do. SO thanks to all of you
who helped me get to where I am. (you don't know who you are, but take
credit anyway. ;)

Cheers,
Mark

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