Am I in the wrong program? (IXD)

30 Apr 2013 - 12:19am
3 years ago
6 replies
4379 reads

I just finished my first year of an Interaction Design graduate program. I'm currently hunting for summer internships, but as of now, I really have no idea of what IXD is like in industry, as far as what I'd actually be doing. My program is based out of an Industrial Design curriculum, but I'm hearing that as an IXD professional, I'm not going to be allowed to do any Industrial Design (physical products) type work. (FWIW, my undergrads are in computer technology and communication)

I definitely do NOT want to do web work. Am I in the wrong program? 

any opinions would be appreciated. 


30 Apr 2013 - 10:54am

Semantics. I would suggest looking for an internship in the industrial design industry then and not focucing on the term IxD. You might want to look for something that mentions product design. It sounds to me you are interested in the interactions of physical elements or products as opposed to the interaction of software elements like websites or apps.

I could be wrong and probably am but to me IXD has to do with human interaction and thats it. The term makes no mention to the artifact that the human is interacting with. It is usually a level of semantics as to how people are using the term interaction design. I would consider the flow in a department store to be an interaction, how someone uses a toaster as an interaction, or the use of medical equipment, just as much as a person using a touch interaction on a tablet or using a website.

Again, I could be wrong and I am sure 20 people will now explain to me how and why I am wrong, but I think you might want to focus your search on the artifact you want to design for (Product Design or Industrial Design it sounds like) and then maybe you will get closer to finding what you want to do. 


30 Apr 2013 - 4:49pm

hmm.. 439 reads and no responses.. 

30 Apr 2013 - 5:12pm

Interaction design, by and large is closely associated with interactive interfaces on websites and web applications. However, it is not exclusively concerned with interfaces in this medium. There are plenty of IxD’s who work in other industries such as gaming (game controllers, level design etc.), fashion (wearable tech), electrical goods (remote controls, touch-interfaces) and sports (Nike+, Garmin etc.) to name a few. Any interface where interaction occurs is where IxD can come in.

Slightly off-topic, but I think is worth a mention as you may or may not be familiar with the discipline; service design is getting a lot more coverage in the IxD and UX communities right now. It concerns itself with the entire experience of how people interact with an environment and all of the touch-points that they interface with along their user journey.

I can’t speak for your course to say whether or not it has been the correct choice for you, but I think whoever has said to you that you wont be allowed to do any industrial design of physical products is talking rubbish. You can apply your design thinking to whatever is of interest. And if you are talented enough to be able to design a physical product that meets user needs along with any interactive interfaces that the product/device contains then you are going to be a pretty hot asset to have around.

Do you think the folks who designed the iPod and thermostat allowed themselves to be corrupted by this kind of thinking?

In short, there are many options and hybrids of jobs available to you that will transcend this siloed thinking that you will not be able to design physical products as an IxD. Live your dream, and best of luck getting there.

30 Apr 2013 - 7:03pm

Hey Kevin - thanks for the response. Sometimes I feel like I'm just struggling with semantics. I wish there was a better way to differentiate IXD between the web stuff and everything else. 

I'm definitely interested in service design. I'm currently planning to do my thesis work on the redesign of a bike shop using the design process to inform customer flows, interior design, POP displays, POS system (onscreen stuff) as well as integration of new business models. Do you happen to know any companies that do this kind of work? I'm summer internship hunting at the moment and would love to try and get some experience in that area before I start the thesis work in earnest. 

30 Apr 2013 - 9:56pm
Dave Malouf

Of course there are non-web/software jobs out there and even internships.

Providing a list of corps would take forever. But almost any company making devices would do. For the serve des angle, that might take a bit more work, but honestly an ID/IxD w/ ServDes interest is the unicorn we should all be looking out for! 

The web is hugely important, even for your thesis, but services & products need tangible interactions as well. Few do this work, but the corps that do are hungry for ppl like you.

As for the semantic problems, they are all over. See here:

14 May 2013 - 10:49am
Eva Kaniasty

Medical devices is a huge area to consider, if it's something you're interested in. 

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