Switching from Industrial to Interaction Design

13 Dec 2012 - 10:28am
3 years ago
6 replies
2538 reads

Hi All

I'm a newbie hereI.. I'm an Industrial Designer with a Masters degree in Industrial Design and 4-5 years of wok experience. For the past 2 years, I have been working on Packaging and Graphics design.. I have done a little bit of everything..

I have been thinking about switching to Interaction design.... But I think I am confused as where to start?? Should I be going for a formal Masters Degree in Interaction Design/ HCI.. opt for Certifications or Online Courses ?

What is the best way to go.. And does my background as an Industrial designer count towards this Career Change??




13 Dec 2012 - 10:29am

Any advice is much appreciated ...


14 Dec 2012 - 3:03am
Yohan Creemers

Hi Upasana,

As industrial designer you're finding the optimal balance between functionality, human factors, aesthetics and technology within the constraints of a business. As interaction designer you do the same. Only the type of technolgy (digital versus physical) differs. I would guess your masters in Industrial Design gives you a enough background to jump into interaction design right away.

The book 'Designing for the Digital Age' by Kim Goodwin goes into detail about the differences between Industrial and Interaction Design specialists. This might give you an insight in the areas of interaction design you're not familiar with yet.

Another good starting point will be the Interaction13 conference in Toronto. There you'll hear and meet a lot of experienced interaction designers.

- Yohan

14 Dec 2012 - 2:37pm

Your id background prepares you well for this directional shift. The medium is different, the execution is different ,and the tactical tools and practice differ... but you come form one of the few design disciplines that actually gets the significance of understanding CONTEXT. Frankly, you are already miles ahead of many people already practicing in this field. 

Learning software and becoming familiar with pattern libraries are small steps in comparison. Familiarizing yourself with the research, how it's done, and the synthasis that follows should be your primary intellectual chores. 

Full speed ahead.

16 Dec 2012 - 8:19am
Dave Malouf

I wrote a piece ont he convergence of ID and IxD for Core77 a few years ago:


I think it might help you frame your position really well. I think you are in a great position. Most of my ID students at SCAD are falling into IxD positions, or are required to do IxD work, especially in the consumer electronics side of things.

As far as training, I suggest to do what Yohan said and come to Interaction 13 (http://interaction13.ixda.org/). There is a host of reading and Goodwin's book is a great place to start as is Dan Saffer's Designing for Interaction. I don't think a decent ID needs to get a formal IxD education though it never hurts. The things that most ID converts need to concentrate on I have found are the "sciency" side of things. Solid HCI, psychology and anthropology. Don't assume that reading a book is enough to know how to do research. This takes practice and craft. So put yourself in positions to get practical experience.

16 Dec 2012 - 5:14pm

I have had a few ID students do a coop in IxD with me.  I think the hardest part was understanding the constraints and opportunities of software. It was hard to "get" an intuitive understanding of what a computer program could do and not do, or why database-backed architecture made certain patterns easy or the various layers of software interacted to create the users environment.  The best advice I would have would be to take two programming courses just to get a feel for the other side.

16 Dec 2012 - 8:19pm

Thank you all for some great advice !!  I would definitely be reading the books mentioned here..I think this is a good way to start.. I also came across an Online course on Interaction design from Stanford University at Coursera.. I think I'll go through that as well..

However, I'm still not able to distinguish between HCI and Interaction design.. Is one more technical than the other? Considering I have absolutely no knowledge on Programming.. Should I be cautious when chosing a program between these two?



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