Senior Visual Designer who wants to add IxD skills

23 Mar 2011 - 12:39pm
5 years ago
4 replies
1240 reads
kimberly j.

I'm a senior Visual & Interface Designer who would like some advice on how to add the skills for Interaction Design & Usability to my repertoire.

I am currently reading "About Face 3" by Alan Cooper (I've already read The Design of Everyday Things, Don't Make Me Think, and It's Not Rocket Science) but I would also like to enroll in a workshop to practice and learn more. I have always been a designer who needs to understand the "why/who/what for" of whatever it is that I'm designing. I need to know how things work before I can design for them - which is why I have taught myself HTML and CSS in order to design effectively for the web.

Specifically, I want to have the tools (and know how to use them) to be part of a development team, and/or be able to compete for design jobs that require experience with concepts of personas, usability evaluations, user research and prototyping methodologies. Can anyone help me decide between these three workshops?

...specifically the 3 day workshop:  and then I could still take more courses on the other three days if I wanted...


Any advice would be greatly appreciated!



25 Mar 2011 - 11:47am

First I'd start with Krug's advice in 'Rocket Surgery' -- just do it! You'll learn a lot about user research and design (redesign) from user testing. 

Second, for less money you can go to the Usability Professionals Association conference and take the tutorials, sit through conference sessions to get practical advice, and network.

I worked with a visual designer who went to the Michigan short course in Human Factors ( ) and had good things to say about it. You might think it overkill for a web site designer, especially the first week focus on physical ergonomics, but nowadays with the focus on smartphones, tablets, and future ubiquitous computing, you would be ahead of the pack with a solid grounding in the human behavior.

If I had to pick from your three, I'd probably go to the NNG usability week, seems broader. Cooper seems to have a bias against usability testing (based on my reading of Goodwin's book -- it is beneath interaction designers), it doesn't show up in their outline. The HFI Certification thing seems like a sales gimmick to me.

Good luck,



26 Mar 2011 - 10:38am
kimberly j.

Hi Paul - thank you so much for your advice! I really appreciate it.

I will definitely read Krug's "Rocket Surgery". I've already purchased it in fact. I'm just finishing up with his "Don't Make Me Think" which, even though his examples are outdated, is giving me the language to articulate the design and usability problems that I'm seeing all over the web - and even with my own designs. J



27 May 2011 - 3:52pm


You may also like Khoi Vinh's Ordering Disorder. He gave a fantastic presentation on grid principles at SXSW that was largely taken from the book.


SEO Specialists

27 Mar 2011 - 3:16pm

As a member of Cooper, I feel I should chime in here and state that we have no bias against usability testing.

The interaction design course is a 4 day course and focuses on user research, persona and scenario creation and initial framework design. It centers around the process we use and although people consider our process to be pretty rigorous it's also very flexible and we're not slaves to it. Usability Week is also good and covers many topics, like Paul said. I don't know much about HFI classes.

Feel free to contact me should you have other questions about the Cooper U courses. 


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