Written aspects of interaction design

27 Apr 2004 - 5:37pm
10 years ago
4 replies
542 reads
Cindy Alvarez
2004

Andrei writes:
bloggers/designers themselves doing not only their
> own visual work, but the IA work *and* the coding behind their blogs.
> (I'm still catching up myself in this whole blog thing, having only
> gotten started in late December of 2003.) For these designers to learn
> the interaction piece as it applies to more robust applications is not
> a far stretch, imho. Once they do, they'll have the skills in visual,
> IA, interaction and base level coding. That's the new school of
> interface design in my view.

Interesting you should mention bloggers, because I am increasingly
convinced of the value of adding excellent writing skills to the pool of
interaction design breadth.

Not necessarily in terms of writing an essay, but rather to take ownership
of inline help text, error messages, and labels. I'd be curious to know
if my experiences are unique, but I have found myself time and time again
working with companies where "copy-writing" is shuffled off to a
department entirely separate from the interaction/visual design studios,
where it is clear that the copywriters have shallow to no knowledge of the
site or application they are writing copy for.

I do a lot of suggested copy revisions (which, thankfully, are usually
implemented instead of the original inappropriate or confusing text), but
am surprised that this practice continues. Maybe I am just seeing
particularly poor implementers of this process?

I am curious - how many of you write or contribute to your own inline
messaging/error messages? If not, do you find the separate of tasks to
work well?

Cindy Alvarez

Comments

27 Apr 2004 - 5:44pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Apr 27, 2004, at 3:37 PM, Cindy Alvarez wrote:

> I am curious - how many of you write or contribute to your own inline
> messaging/error messages? If not, do you find the separate of tasks
> to
> work well?

In all of the jobs I have had, I was an integral part of both writing
these sorts of messages, and in most cases, was the primary "engineer"
responsible for fixing all bugs related to this sorts of things. I
think it is very important for the interface designer to be responsible
for them.

Andrei Herasimchuk
andrei at adobe.com

work: http://www.adobe.com
personal: http://www.designbyfire.com

27 Apr 2004 - 10:16pm
Dan Saffer
2003

When the UX team hasn't included a copywriter, I've often written the
help copy myself. Frequently, the IxD knows the system and its quirks
better than anyone else on the team. So, if the designer can write, she
can be the best qualified to do the job.

Good copywriters that are a part of the design process are worth their
weight in gold, however, and can often come up with some great
scenarios, nomenclature, and instructional copy.

Dan

27 Apr 2004 - 10:38pm
nhoh
2004

At my workplace I tend to take the first pass at the
error messages and for ones that I need another pair
of eyes on I go to our technical writers and they're a
great help with these things. I've done the same thing
at 2 other companies I've worked at.

Cheers,

Nick

--- Cindy Alvarez <cindy at cindyalvarez.com> wrote:
> Andrei writes:
> bloggers/designers themselves doing not only their
> > own visual work, but the IA work *and* the coding
> behind their blogs.
> > (I'm still catching up myself in this whole blog
> thing, having only
> > gotten started in late December of 2003.) For
> these designers to learn
> > the interaction piece as it applies to more robust
> applications is not
> > a far stretch, imho. Once they do, they'll have
> the skills in visual,
> > IA, interaction and base level coding. That's the
> new school of
> > interface design in my view.
>
> Interesting you should mention bloggers, because I
> am increasingly
> convinced of the value of adding excellent writing
> skills to the pool of
> interaction design breadth.
>
> Not necessarily in terms of writing an essay, but
> rather to take ownership
> of inline help text, error messages, and labels.
> I'd be curious to know
> if my experiences are unique, but I have found
> myself time and time again
> working with companies where "copy-writing" is
> shuffled off to a
> department entirely separate from the
> interaction/visual design studios,
> where it is clear that the copywriters have shallow
> to no knowledge of the
> site or application they are writing copy for.
>
> I do a lot of suggested copy revisions (which,
> thankfully, are usually
> implemented instead of the original inappropriate or
> confusing text), but
> am surprised that this practice continues. Maybe I
> am just seeing
> particularly poor implementers of this process?
>
> I am curious - how many of you write or contribute
> to your own inline
> messaging/error messages? If not, do you find the
> separate of tasks to
> work well?
>
> Cindy Alvarez
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28 Apr 2004 - 6:20am
pabini
2004

Hi Cindy

Cindy Alvarez wrote:

Interesting you should mention bloggers, because I am increasingly
> convinced of the value of adding excellent writing skills to the pool of
> interaction design breadth.

I felt tempted to mention this in the context of that other discussion, too.
I'm glad you've started another thread. Writing skills are essential for
interaction designers, because most of what we create is expressed through
text--both in our user interfaces and in our specifications. Clarity in
communication is paramount.

> Not necessarily in terms of writing an essay, but rather to take ownership
> of inline help text, error messages, and labels. I'd be curious to know
> if my experiences are unique, but I have found myself time and time again
> working with companies where "copy-writing" is shuffled off to a
> department entirely separate from the interaction/visual design studios,
> where it is clear that the copywriters have shallow to no knowledge of the
> site or application they are writing copy for.
> I am curious - how many of you write or contribute to your own inline
> messaging/error messages? If not, do you find the separate of tasks to
> work well?

I've never had this experience, but I've worked primarily on desktop
applications. I usually write all interface text. Do you work on desktop
apps, Web apps, Web sites? It's always been easy for me to claim
responsibility for these things though, because I was a technical writer and
editor before becoming an interaction designer. There have been times I've
worked with a tech writer to create error messages--someone who had a lot of
experience creating error messages--but I cannot imagine handing off
responsibility for labeling and inline text. I usually take responsibility
for a product's lexicon, too, or work collaboratively with a tech writer on
it.

Pabini
________________________________________

Pabini Gabriel-Petit
Principal & User Experience Architect
Spirit Softworks
www.spiritsoftworks.com

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