Qualifications for Interaction Designers

29 Sep 2011 - 5:52pm
4 years ago
2 replies
2020 reads

Hello. I'm new to this site (as of 5 mins ago), and I've only recently heard the term 'Interaction Design' and discovered that in-fact this term applies to most of my body of work. I don't have any formal eductaion in Interaction Design specifically, but I have a BFA in Computation Art & Design (where this term was never ever discussed or even mentioned) and I have a diploma in general science with a major in psycology. I've been working in web for only about 3 years so I guess I'm a newbie. I was wondering what kind of qualifications deem a person an Interaction Designer (education, software... or is it based on experience). And b. if anyone knew where in Montreal (or in Vancouver as I am relocating next year) I can attend some classes or seminars.

I'm happy to have found this site


2 Oct 2011 - 12:47pm
Dave Malouf

Hello Tina and welcome,

There are places that are using the term interaction design (IxD) and offering certificates, degrees, and other levels of certification around the world. 

I will say that many people are like yourself. They do all or a piece of what falls under the discipline of IxD without ever calling it that at all. I do think because of that that your framing of the question isn't quite right. Asking about "qualifications" for an Interaction Designer will get you very muddled answers because the truth is that from practitioner to practitioner and employer to employer the answers about what they are looking for will be quite different. The real question you need to ask is what skills and knowledge do I need in order to be designing the behaviors of digital products, services and systems for the context that I'm working in and interested in now and in the future?

To answer that question is still very controversial and I'm sure there will be a host of people on this list who will critique what I'm going to offer here.

Interaction Design is at its core the design of the behavior of systems (digital or otherwise) so that those behaviors influence or respond to the behaviors of human beings in ways that lead to their attaining of goals and finding pleasure in their discourse with those systems.

So now that you know what it is, the list of skills and knowledge in order to attain that lofty goal are various, deep and intense. They can include everything from psychology (like you have) but that begs the question what part of the psyche do we need to focus on: cognitive? yes; behavioral? yes; social? sure! But we also need to understand how people behave due to social & cultural phenomena so knowing anthropology, sociology, economics and even poli sci at different depths of unerstanding are also important. With Interaction Design, there is applied anthropology as a tool for learning about specific contexts using the method/tools of ethnography.

The other humanistic area of knowledge that is growingly important is knowledge about language: narrative, poetics (metaphor), and rhetoric. Interactions create stories, interfaces require metaphor, and we need to understand existing frameworks that people work in and how we can use rhetoric in order to change people's behaviors in the ways that lead to our total success.

Getting more into the design realm, the classics of design foundation are important:

  • Visual communication
  • Graphic design (type, layout, color, etc.)
  • Modeling (interactive prototyping, experience prototyping, abstract modeling, etc.)
  • it is also important to understand the core elements of what makes up interfaces themselves. Patterns, components, etc.
I'm going to stop there mainly for time, but I think someone can take it on from here and expand and critique what I've offered thus far.
Welcome to the community and I hope you find value in it.
-- dave


2 Oct 2011 - 5:57pm
Eric Harris


" I'm sure there will be a host of people on this list who will critique what I'm going to offer here."

No, I think you hit the nail on the head!

Tina, I would offer that you don't need a specific degree or "credential" in the academic sense of the word. If "interaction design" applies to most of your body of work, then I'd say you're an interaction designer. A rose by any other name...

Use the "Local" link in the navigation above to see out a local chapter in Vancouver.

Welcome to the family!

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