Differences HCI vs UCD vs UXD vs ID

24 Feb 2012 - 6:46am
4 years ago
3 replies
7591 reads

Hi All,

Can anyone tell me the difference between these titles

  • Human Centered Design 
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • User Centered Design
  • User Experience Design
  • Interaction Design






29 Feb 2012 - 5:42am

A few years ago I posted an article called “UX Design-Planning isn't an One-man Show”, which examined what UX is and how the usage of different terms is or might be - because that isn't that easy, because each of your terms are changing terms for changing times for changing projects in a changing world. 

User experience (abbreviated as UX) is how a person feels, remind of former experience and what he expect of your interface and system. The system could be any interactive application or desktop software and, in modern contexts, is generally characterized by some form of human-computer interaction (HCI) device. 

Each of your listed terms have and share more characteristics things in common than they have distinguishing.

If you tell me / us more about the purpose of your question the better might be my / our answers.





29 Feb 2012 - 7:28am

Thanks Holger,

Purpose is, I wish to include the characteristic different in my presentation on UCD fundaments, which I am preparing for my understanding. As the terms are closely related to each other and to get better understand I started this thread.



29 Feb 2012 - 9:35am

After practicing User Experience Design in one form or other since the early 90s I think I can take a pass at articulating the commonalities and differences ofthese terms.

  I would say the terms "human" and "user" are essentially interchangeable. The term "User Centered Design" is dominant these days I think because (a) it sounds less academic and (b) it more accurately describes who we are designing for -- that is we are designing for the role of "user". You should also keep in mind that User Centered Design extends to any product design, while Human-Computer Interaction is specific to how people interact with digital systems.

Human/User Centered Design is a design philosophy that puts the needs of the person using the system over the needs of the system. In other words, if there is a choice between making the user do something extra to achieve their goal or making the System do it for the user, then the choice would be to burden the system, not the user. Note, while I use the term "system" I could equally use "device", "product", etc.

User Experience is a broad and fuzzy term. Generally, I think of it as a design practice (not a philosophy) that considers every aspect of the experience of the user while interacting the the product under design. Obviously this includes the look, feel, ease of use and the intuitiveness of the process. But it goes beyond that and considers intangibles like Brand or the hedonic/pragmatic balance of each point of interaction. It must consider and strive to meet the user's goals. Therefore User Experience Design includes graphical design of the interface, the content, the writing, as well as the layout and design of fields and controls. User Experience is the total package that determines ifthe product delights or frustrates the user in their quest to achieve their goals.

Interaction Design on the other hand, I think, is more restrictive and mechanistic. Interaction Design is essentially mapping the points in the process flow of a transaction to a user interface in terms of screens, fields and controls. Interaction Design is a critical part of User Experience. If the interaction models are not intuitive or difficult to use the User Experience must be poor regardless of visual design, content and writing. Interaction design then embodies the roles of Functional Analyst and Information Architect. User Experience Design adds graphical design, content and writing. It is the sum of these two, mechanistic design and emotive design that create the overall User Experience.

Note, when I refer to an IA, I think of the role as initially defined by Wurman when he coined the term -- one who architects information. He really meant "designs information". He used architect because at the time he felt the term "design" was being cheapened by overuse.  Information design is -- in the Tufte tradition -- making the effort to understand complex information and information systems easier through the visually manner in which the information is displayed.

So Information Architecture sits within User Experience Design as does that of the Interaction Designer (IA and Interaction Design roles are commonly combined these days), the Visual Designer, the Content Strategist, the Writer and the Usability Specialist. They should all approach thir design tasks using a User-Centered Design philosophy or similar such as Goal or Outcome Driven Design approaches that consider fulfilling the goals of the business as well as the end-user and defining those goals in a testable manner. (for more on Goal Driven Design see my site jonkarpoff.com).


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