What sets the 'best' interaction designers apart?

2 Feb 2007 - 11:36am
1 year ago
97 replies
6679 reads
bhekking
2006

Hi all -

In your experience, what qualities set the 'best' (defined as you like)
interaction designers apart?

In hiring, what design exercises have you found effective in identifying the
'best' interaction designers?

Thanks,
Bret Hekking

____________________________________________________________________________________
Food fight? Enjoy some healthy debate
in the Yahoo! Answers Food & Drink Q&A.
http://answers.yahoo.com/dir/?link=list&sid=396545367

Comments

2 Feb 2007 - 6:43pm
niklasw
2005

IMHO...

Being able to identify, understand and collect crucial user data for one but
then to take that data and with true creativity and 'out of nothing' create
a relevant synthesis of it and shape it into a realistic and attractive
product solution/mock-up.

Even though they can't be separated the first part is the simple part... the
second, being able to perform the creativity part is what sets the 'best'
apart.

No exercise examples though...

--N

On 2/2/07, Bret Hekking <bhekking at yahoo.com> wrote:
>
> Hi all -
>
> In your experience, what qualities set the 'best' (defined as you like)
> interaction designers apart?
>
> In hiring, what design exercises have you found effective in identifying
> the
> 'best' interaction designers?
>
> Thanks,
> Bret Hekking
>
>
>
>
> ____________________________________________________________________________________
> Food fight? Enjoy some healthy debate
> in the Yahoo! Answers Food & Drink Q&A.
> http://answers.yahoo.com/dir/?link=list&sid=396545367
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
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> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

2 Feb 2007 - 6:54pm
niklasw
2005

Just realized that maybe that was a to general of opinion... Maybe that's
not the kind of thing that sets the "best" apart? Or is it? Maybe emphathy
and true interest in humans and an interest in solving their everyday
interaction problems is what sets them apart? And how do you judge someone
to have 'those' kind of qualities based on a couple of interviews?

Is it even really sound to discuss this? Is it elitist thinking?

--Niklas

On 2/3/07, Niklas Wolkert <niklas.wolkert at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> IMHO...
>
> Being able to identify, understand and collect crucial user data for one
> but then to take that data and with true creativity and 'out of nothing'
> create a relevant synthesis of it and shape it into a realistic and
> attractive product solution/mock-up.
>
> Even though they can't be separated the first part is the simple part...
> the second, being able to perform the creativity part is what sets the
> 'best' apart.
>
> No exercise examples though...
>
> --N
>
> On 2/2/07, Bret Hekking <bhekking at yahoo.com> wrote:
> >
> > Hi all -
> >
> > In your experience, what qualities set the 'best' (defined as you like)
> > interaction designers apart?
> >
> > In hiring, what design exercises have you found effective in identifying
> > the
> > 'best' interaction designers?
> >
> > Thanks,
> > Bret Hekking
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > ____________________________________________________________________________________
> > Food fight? Enjoy some healthy debate
> > in the Yahoo! Answers Food & Drink Q&A.
> > http://answers.yahoo.com/dir/?link=list&sid=396545367
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> > List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> > (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> > Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> > Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> > Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> > Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
> >
>
>

2 Feb 2007 - 6:56pm
Alder Yarrow
2004

The best interaction designers?

Know how to hand-code HTML or possibly other programming or UI languages.

That's the single best predictor of strong interaction design skills or
capabilities in my experience hiring and training IAs and IDs for the past 8
years.

The best interaction designers have a visceral, hands-on understanding of
how technology systems are built, and they use this knowledge to design
interactions that:

1. actually work
2. can be implemented
3. are less prone to technology driven errors
4. are documented in ways that developers can understand

Alder

''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''
Alder Yarrow, Founder & Principal
HYDRANT
M:415.730.3209
www.hydrantsf.com

2 Feb 2007 - 10:21pm
jbellis
2005

Alder,
I agree. In fact it's my experience that one's not really good at Ix if you
can't write in machine language. I'll finish my response in decimalized Hex
for those wannabe Ix practitioners who struggle with binary:
169
7
141
212

165
99
120

230
217
204
193
182

Regards, www.jackbellis.com

Ps. I think Dan Brown did a great job answering this question on Jan 16,
where he placed feasibility/coding last in his hiring criteria:
http://listserver.dreamhost.com/pipermail/discuss-interactiondesigners.com/2007-January/013666.html

----- Original Message -----
From: "Alder Yarrow" <alder at alderyarrow.com>
To: <discuss at ixda.org>
Sent: Friday, February 02, 2007 7:56 PM
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] What sets the 'best' interaction designers
apart?

> The best interaction designers?
>
> Know how to hand-code HTML or possibly other programming or UI languages.
>
>

2 Feb 2007 - 10:57pm
dszuc
2005

Hi Bret:

Qualities:

1) Letting go of their design (not getting close)
2) Talking through the rationale behind elements in a design
3) Demonstrating how it provides value to user/business or both
4) Open to iterating and moving forward
5) Thinking holistically (hard one)

Rgds,

Daniel Szuc
Principal Usability Consultant
Apogee Usability Asia Ltd
www.apogeehk.com
'Usability in Asia'

The Usability Toolkit - http://www.sitepoint.com/books/usability1/

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Bret
Hekking
Sent: Saturday, February 03, 2007 1:36 AM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] What sets the 'best' interaction designers apart?

Hi all -

In your experience, what qualities set the 'best' (defined as you like)
interaction designers apart?

In hiring, what design exercises have you found effective in identifying the
'best' interaction designers?

Thanks,
Bret Hekking

____________________________________________________________________________
________
Food fight? Enjoy some healthy debate
in the Yahoo! Answers Food & Drink Q&A.
http://answers.yahoo.com/dir/?link=list&sid=396545367
________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
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Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
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Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org

2 Feb 2007 - 11:09pm
Kevin Wong
2007

When do you draw the distinction between "designer" and "developer"
if there is such a different. If not, then should there be one? Are
Ruby programmers who have a keen eye for the "user" and centering
their design around their needs more of a designer or developer?
Maybe they should be called Interaction Gods =)

In any case, I'd like to hear more opinions about the characteristics
of an Interaction Design. I feel like ethnographers and
anthropologists are Interaction Designers as well. Just from a
different perspective bringing in different deliverables that could
still very well be creative.

Kevin

On Feb 2, 2007, at 4:56 PM, Alder Yarrow wrote:

> The best interaction designers?
>
> Know how to hand-code HTML or possibly other programming or UI
> languages.
>
> That's the single best predictor of strong interaction design
> skills or
> capabilities in my experience hiring and training IAs and IDs for
> the past 8
> years.
>
> The best interaction designers have a visceral, hands-on
> understanding of
> how technology systems are built, and they use this knowledge to
> design
> interactions that:
>
> 1. actually work
> 2. can be implemented
> 3. are less prone to technology driven errors
> 4. are documented in ways that developers can understand
>
> Alder
>
> ''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''
> Alder Yarrow, Founder & Principal
> HYDRANT
> M:415.730.3209
> www.hydrantsf.com
>
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org

2 Feb 2007 - 11:58pm
Dave Chiu
2006

On Feb 3, 2007, at 12:09 AM, Kevin Wong wrote:
> In any case, I'd like to hear more opinions about the characteristics
> of an Interaction Design. I feel like ethnographers and
> anthropologists are Interaction Designers as well. Just from a
> different perspective bringing in different deliverables that could
> still very well be creative.

I was taught that good interaction designers are able to "bounce"
between high level and low level tasks, and from that flexibility
derive their value.

The interaction design program I graduated from had a curriculum
which encompassed physical computing, graphical user interface
design, and service design. These were general categories, as any
single project might involve one or more disciplines. For example, a
service design project (high level) would inevitably involve some
kind of touch-point (low level) which would manifest itself in a
screen design or an object of some sort. The lines were definitely
blurred as designers developed working prototypes which in turn
informed the designs in an iterative process.

The students at my school were from all kinds of backgrounds, ranging
from industrial design to graphic design to architecture to computer
science to english (that would be me). At the end of the program, we
all had our particular interests and skills, so I don't think there
is a particular template for Interaction Design. I realize that's not
particularly helpful, but I think most of us left school more
confused about the definition than when we entered, and we certainly
all had our differing opinions.

So while I don't have any particular insight into what makes an
Interaction Designer (and any that I might have are certainly not
authoritative), I would agree that the characteristics of one would
have to include ethnography. I personally believe that an Interaction
Designer is more designer than developer, but that he or she must be
able to interface with developers, which in turn requires an
understanding of development to most effectively communicate design
requirements/implementation, etc. (It's a bit of a vicious circle as
far as I've found.)

I think that may be where the comments about hand-coding HTML come
from, as understanding lies in the doing, which in turn may lead to
better design around that particular technology's constraints.

Dave

3 Feb 2007 - 12:07am
Dave Malouf
2005

Wow Kevin, that is quite the question ... I can see this being a cool
theoretical conversation, but I can also see this going REALLY poorly.

1) create != design. Design is a formalized discipline that has existed for
a good century before the computer ever existed with a rich tradition in
education systems around architecture, graphics, fashion, and of course
industrial design.

So...IMHO there is definitely a line between developer and designer. Just
like Peter Me said that UCD is only 1 method for doing design (I actually
don't find it to be a design method, but rather a research method for the
most part), there is more than one way to conceive, construct, create,
innovate, invent, produce, ideat, etc.

I would also counter that the best designers I have seen actually have the
least direct technical aptitiude. They understand their canvas, but can
apply their design skills towards any type of problem fluidly and usually
the best IxDs come from other design disciplines (Communications, Graphics,
Industrial and Architecture for the most part). Prototyping tools are a dime
a dozen these days and nothing will ever beat pencil and paper as the
ultimate design tool.

2) IxD unlike IA, Usability, HCI, etc. is a design discipline. Schools like
CMU, Ivrea (RIP), Umea, Malmo, SCAD, Delft, RCA, etc. where IxD is being
taught are all design schools, using traditional design education methods
such as studio work.

3) While having empathy is definitely a design characteristic, it by itself
does not make a designer. So I would coutner your "Interaction Gods" comment
(well also b/c of the developer piece anyway).

4) The same thing is true of ethnographers and other researchers. Being an
observer is way different from being an ideator.

5) Last point to Kevin's: Let's not confuse the JOB with the discipline.
Most of us have multiple hats and need to be experts in many disciplines to
do our jobs: prototyper, researcher, designer, IA, manager, etc.

Now, the best IxDs I find have some of these traits as well:
1. Well travelled, especially foreign
2. multi-lingual
3. formal design education, (or well mentored career paths)
4. love DESIGN of all kinds
5. are opportunistic, optimistic (always seeing the next opportunity in a
constraint). I really loved Jared's response to me in the whole thread about
enterprise.
6. Can draw
7. have worked with web, software, hardware, systems, etc.
(multi-environments)
8. Can present their own thoughts
9. Fearless in front of CEOs
10. Can defend their thinking
11. Detailed oriented
12. Thinks holistically, ecology or system
13. good writer

-- dave

> -----Original Message-----
> From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
> [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On
> Behalf Of Kevin Wong
> Sent: Saturday, February 03, 2007 12:10 AM
> To: Alder Yarrow
> Cc: discuss IxD
> Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] What sets the 'best' interaction
> designers apart?
>
> When do you draw the distinction between "designer" and "developer"
> if there is such a different. If not, then should there be one? Are
> Ruby programmers who have a keen eye for the "user" and centering
> their design around their needs more of a designer or developer?
> Maybe they should be called Interaction Gods =)
>
> In any case, I'd like to hear more opinions about the
> characteristics
> of an Interaction Design. I feel like ethnographers and
> anthropologists are Interaction Designers as well. Just from a
> different perspective bringing in different deliverables that could
> still very well be creative.
>
> Kevin
>
>
>
> On Feb 2, 2007, at 4:56 PM, Alder Yarrow wrote:
>
> > The best interaction designers?
> >
> > Know how to hand-code HTML or possibly other programming or UI
> > languages.
> >
> > That's the single best predictor of strong interaction design
> > skills or
> > capabilities in my experience hiring and training IAs and IDs for
> > the past 8
> > years.
> >
> > The best interaction designers have a visceral, hands-on
> > understanding of
> > how technology systems are built, and they use this knowledge to
> > design
> > interactions that:
> >
> > 1. actually work
> > 2. can be implemented
> > 3. are less prone to technology driven errors
> > 4. are documented in ways that developers can understand
> >
> > Alder
> >
> > ''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''
> > Alder Yarrow, Founder & Principal
> > HYDRANT
> > M:415.730.3209
> > www.hydrantsf.com
> >
> >
> >
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> > List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> > (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> > Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> > Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> > Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> > Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

3 Feb 2007 - 4:46am
Kevin Wong
2007

Dave,

Well done. I appreciate your input. It does a lot to explicitly
provide examples of how IxD may be different from other roles such as
IA, Ethnographers, etc etc. I only asked the question to bring an
answer like yours about. IxD "title" has been used rather loosely
for many people so it's nice to hear what the "true" IxD attributes are.

Your standards are well admirable. I can only hope to exceed some of
those to prove worthy.

Question though - where do undergraduates start to become a
successful Ix Designers before entering graduate school like CMU,
UMEA, Royal Arts, etc.?

Cheers,
Kevin

On Feb 2, 2007, at 10:07 PM, David Malouf wrote:

> Wow Kevin, that is quite the question ... I can see this being a cool
> theoretical conversation, but I can also see this going REALLY poorly.
>
> 1) create != design. Design is a formalized discipline that has
> existed for
> a good century before the computer ever existed with a rich
> tradition in
> education systems around architecture, graphics, fashion, and of
> course
> industrial design.
>
> So...IMHO there is definitely a line between developer and
> designer. Just
> like Peter Me said that UCD is only 1 method for doing design (I
> actually
> don't find it to be a design method, but rather a research method
> for the
> most part), there is more than one way to conceive, construct, create,
> innovate, invent, produce, ideat, etc.
>
> I would also counter that the best designers I have seen actually
> have the
> least direct technical aptitiude. They understand their canvas, but
> can
> apply their design skills towards any type of problem fluidly and
> usually
> the best IxDs come from other design disciplines (Communications,
> Graphics,
> Industrial and Architecture for the most part). Prototyping tools
> are a dime
> a dozen these days and nothing will ever beat pencil and paper as the
> ultimate design tool.
>
> 2) IxD unlike IA, Usability, HCI, etc. is a design discipline.
> Schools like
> CMU, Ivrea (RIP), Umea, Malmo, SCAD, Delft, RCA, etc. where IxD is
> being
> taught are all design schools, using traditional design education
> methods
> such as studio work.
>
> 3) While having empathy is definitely a design characteristic, it
> by itself
> does not make a designer. So I would coutner your "Interaction
> Gods" comment
> (well also b/c of the developer piece anyway).
>
> 4) The same thing is true of ethnographers and other researchers.
> Being an
> observer is way different from being an ideator.
>
> 5) Last point to Kevin's: Let's not confuse the JOB with the
> discipline.
> Most of us have multiple hats and need to be experts in many
> disciplines to
> do our jobs: prototyper, researcher, designer, IA, manager, etc.
>
> Now, the best IxDs I find have some of these traits as well:
> 1. Well travelled, especially foreign
> 2. multi-lingual
> 3. formal design education, (or well mentored career paths)
> 4. love DESIGN of all kinds
> 5. are opportunistic, optimistic (always seeing the next
> opportunity in a
> constraint). I really loved Jared's response to me in the whole
> thread about
> enterprise.
> 6. Can draw
> 7. have worked with web, software, hardware, systems, etc.
> (multi-environments)
> 8. Can present their own thoughts
> 9. Fearless in front of CEOs
> 10. Can defend their thinking
> 11. Detailed oriented
> 12. Thinks holistically, ecology or system
> 13. good writer
>
>
> -- dave
>
>
>
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
>> [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On
>> Behalf Of Kevin Wong
>> Sent: Saturday, February 03, 2007 12:10 AM
>> To: Alder Yarrow
>> Cc: discuss IxD
>> Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] What sets the 'best' interaction
>> designers apart?
>>
>> When do you draw the distinction between "designer" and "developer"
>> if there is such a different. If not, then should there be one? Are
>> Ruby programmers who have a keen eye for the "user" and centering
>> their design around their needs more of a designer or developer?
>> Maybe they should be called Interaction Gods =)
>>
>> In any case, I'd like to hear more opinions about the
>> characteristics
>> of an Interaction Design. I feel like ethnographers and
>> anthropologists are Interaction Designers as well. Just from a
>> different perspective bringing in different deliverables that could
>> still very well be creative.
>>
>> Kevin
>>
>>
>>
>> On Feb 2, 2007, at 4:56 PM, Alder Yarrow wrote:
>>
>>> The best interaction designers?
>>>
>>> Know how to hand-code HTML or possibly other programming or UI
>>> languages.
>>>
>>> That's the single best predictor of strong interaction design
>>> skills or
>>> capabilities in my experience hiring and training IAs and IDs for
>>> the past 8
>>> years.
>>>
>>> The best interaction designers have a visceral, hands-on
>>> understanding of
>>> how technology systems are built, and they use this knowledge to
>>> design
>>> interactions that:
>>>
>>> 1. actually work
>>> 2. can be implemented
>>> 3. are less prone to technology driven errors
>>> 4. are documented in ways that developers can understand
>>>
>>> Alder
>>>
>>> ''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''
>>> Alder Yarrow, Founder & Principal
>>> HYDRANT
>>> M:415.730.3209
>>> www.hydrantsf.com
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> ________________________________________________________________
>>> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>>> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>>> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
>>> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
>>> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
>>> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
>>> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
>>> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
>>> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org

3 Feb 2007 - 6:32am
Manish Govind P...
2006

Who am I?
All this discussion has triggered this conflict in my
mind again. The question is can we really define
designers for sure. How many roles do we finally come
out with? Do we make roles to suit our purpose? Cant
we have simple defined teminology for the types of
designers that exists in the market?
Im trained as a product designer, but do interfaces.
I've done some furniture design to and i know im good
at it. My job requires me to do visual design as well,
so im a graphic designer. Do i code too? yes i used to
before i got into design. So i can code too. I ha

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3 Feb 2007 - 6:42am
Manish Govind P...
2006

Sorry got dc.

Who am I?
All this discussion has triggered this conflict in my
mind again. The question is can we really define
designers for sure. How many roles do we finally come
out with? Do we make roles to suit our purpose? Cant
we have simple defined teminology for the types of
designers that exists in the market?
Im trained as a product designer, but do interfaces.
I've done some furniture design to and i know im good
at it. My job requires me to do visual design as well,
so im a graphic designer. Do i code too? yes i used to
before i got into design. So i can code too. I have
worked on emerging technologies and done New MEdi
projects. So i've touched interaction design too.
Here's profile 2: trained in animation design, working
as a 'product conceptualiser', another- trained in
film making, but working as a strategy manager for a
product based company.
The question that baffels me is: What do i call
myself. Am i a Interaction designer or product or
furniture or a design manager or i can plan your brand
strategy as well?
Am i what they call( safely) a User Experience
Designer?

-Manish
User Experience Designer(?)
Bangalore

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3 Feb 2007 - 7:38am
Dave Malouf
2005

> Who am I?
> All this discussion has triggered this conflict in my
> mind again. The question is can we really define
> designers for sure. How many roles do we finally come
> out with? Do we make roles to suit our purpose? Cant
> we have simple defined teminology for the types of
> designers that exists in the market?
> Im trained as a product designer, but do interfaces.
> I've done some furniture design to and i know im good
> at it. My job requires me to do visual design as well,
> so im a graphic designer. Do i code too? yes i used to
> before i got into design. So i can code too. I ha

Why do you only have to be 1 thing? Can't you be all those things and apply
the identities you need to the problems you are working on.

Personally, if I have to look for a title to express what I do as a
generalist (which is what I am), I use User Experience Designer. I like
Peter B's T model where the average person has to do a lot of things and
know them broadly but should know 1 thing really well and deeply. Thus a T.

-- dave

3 Feb 2007 - 7:44am
Dave Malouf
2005

If, I was to go back to school all over again in this day and age, BOY would
I do things differently. ;)

If I was an undergrad, I would study Industrial Design. Or maybe find an
undergraduate minor in IxD. I think SCAD has one. But I would stick to a
design school.

I choose industrial design (or architecture) because both of these usually
have aspects of use involved in them and many of their problem sets deal
with interactivity at some level. But they also really structure themselves
around studio work.

Yup, I'd do ID with an emphasis in human factors and design research. That's
what I'd do. ;)

For those of use who came up the dot.com chain-gang with English, Anthro,
History, Poli Sci, International Studies, Biology, etc. majors and who love
our adopted careers as designers ... How would you have played it
differently considering that this organic method of career growth in IxD is
probably not nearly as doable as it was circa '94-'99? To be honest, as I
wrote this, I love my past and my growth pattern. I loved being part of a
huge state college (Berkeley) with all that had to offer in community,
x-disciplinary studies, etc. so its really hard for me to imagine the design
school life for myself that I described above. But I think with what I know
now that's what I would have done diffferently. 20-20 hindsight!

-- dave

_____

From: Kevin Wong [mailto:kdubz313 at gmail.com]
Sent: Saturday, February 03, 2007 5:45 AM
To: dave at ixda.org
Cc: 'discuss IxD'
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] What sets the 'best' interaction designers
apart?

Dave,

Well done. I appreciate your input. It does a lot to explicitly provide
examples of how IxD may be different from other roles such as IA,
Ethnographers, etc etc. I only asked the question to bring an answer like
yours about. IxD "title" has been used rather loosely for many people so
it's nice to hear what the "true" IxD attributes are.

Your standards are well admirable. I can only hope to exceed some of those
to prove worthy.

Question though - where do undergraduates start to become a successful Ix
Designers before entering graduate school like CMU, UMEA, Royal Arts, etc.?

Cheers,
Kevin

On Feb 2, 2007, at 10:07 PM, David Malouf wrote:

Wow Kevin, that is quite the question ... I can see this being a cool
theoretical conversation, but I can also see this going REALLY poorly.

1) create != design. Design is a formalized discipline that has existed for
a good century before the computer ever existed with a rich tradition in
education systems around architecture, graphics, fashion, and of course
industrial design.

So...IMHO there is definitely a line between developer and designer. Just
like Peter Me said that UCD is only 1 method for doing design (I actually
don't find it to be a design method, but rather a research method for the
most part), there is more than one way to conceive, construct, create,
innovate, invent, produce, ideat, etc.

I would also counter that the best designers I have seen actually have the
least direct technical aptitiude. They understand their canvas, but can
apply their design skills towards any type of problem fluidly and usually
the best IxDs come from other design disciplines (Communications, Graphics,
Industrial and Architecture for the most part). Prototyping tools are a dime
a dozen these days and nothing will ever beat pencil and paper as the
ultimate design tool.

2) IxD unlike IA, Usability, HCI, etc. is a design discipline. Schools like
CMU, Ivrea (RIP), Umea, Malmo, SCAD, Delft, RCA, etc. where IxD is being
taught are all design schools, using traditional design education methods
such as studio work.

3) While having empathy is definitely a design characteristic, it by itself
does not make a designer. So I would coutner your "Interaction Gods" comment
(well also b/c of the developer piece anyway).

4) The same thing is true of ethnographers and other researchers. Being an
observer is way different from being an ideator.

5) Last point to Kevin's: Let's not confuse the JOB with the discipline.
Most of us have multiple hats and need to be experts in many disciplines to
do our jobs: prototyper, researcher, designer, IA, manager, etc.

Now, the best IxDs I find have some of these traits as well:
1. Well travelled, especially foreign
2. multi-lingual
3. formal design education, (or well mentored career paths)
4. love DESIGN of all kinds
5. are opportunistic, optimistic (always seeing the next opportunity in a
constraint). I really loved Jared's response to me in the whole thread about
enterprise.
6. Can draw
7. have worked with web, software, hardware, systems, etc.
(multi-environments)
8. Can present their own thoughts
9. Fearless in front of CEOs
10. Can defend their thinking
11. Detailed oriented
12. Thinks holistically, ecology or system
13. good writer

-- dave

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On
Behalf Of Kevin Wong
Sent: Saturday, February 03, 2007 12:10 AM
To: Alder Yarrow
Cc: discuss IxD
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] What sets the 'best' interaction
designers apart?

When do you draw the distinction between "designer" and "developer"
if there is such a different. If not, then should there be one? Are
Ruby programmers who have a keen eye for the "user" and centering
their design around their needs more of a designer or developer?
Maybe they should be called Interaction Gods =)

In any case, I'd like to hear more opinions about the
characteristics
of an Interaction Design. I feel like ethnographers and
anthropologists are Interaction Designers as well. Just from a
different perspective bringing in different deliverables that could
still very well be creative.

Kevin

On Feb 2, 2007, at 4:56 PM, Alder Yarrow wrote:

The best interaction designers?

Know how to hand-code HTML or possibly other programming or UI
languages.

That's the single best predictor of strong interaction design
skills or
capabilities in my experience hiring and training IAs and IDs for
the past 8
years.

The best interaction designers have a visceral, hands-on
understanding of
how technology systems are built, and they use this knowledge to
design
interactions that:

1. actually work
2. can be implemented
3. are less prone to technology driven errors
4. are documented in ways that developers can understand

Alder

''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''
Alder Yarrow, Founder & Principal
HYDRANT
M:415.730.3209
www.hydrantsf.com

________________________________________________________________
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--------------------------------
*Kevin Wong
*425.894.9211
*kdubz313 at gmail.com

3 Feb 2007 - 7:57am
Mark Schraad
2006

On Feb 2, 2007, at 12:36 PM, Bret Hekking wrote:

> In your experience, what qualities set the 'best' (defined as you
> like)
> interaction designers apart?

The exact same criteria as for any other design role. How the person
thinks. Can they walk around, pass through and hover over the problem
in order to define it? How do they break down a problem and
reassemble it? Interaction design is a specialty application of
design thinking. When hiring any designer, especially for interaction
I am absolutely not looking for a tactician. Should my architect be a
master brick layer... hardly. The last thing I need is someone the
specialized in code - that skill is readily found elsewhere. I need
them to be able to understand the context and people.

> In hiring, what design exercises have you found effective in
> identifying the
> 'best' interaction designers?

Not trying to be flip... but the answer is a conversation. If you can
not conduct an interview without looking at a designers portfolio,
then you should not be in the role of hiring. If the candidate can
not communicate his thoughts on design they will likely fail as a
designer.

I know that this is likely not the answer most designer want to hear.
But if you want to work at the specialist level it is what you need
to hear. If the job describes a detailed list of code that you need
to be able to write... you should run (unless you are looking for an
entry level or production job).

Mark

3 Feb 2007 - 8:08am
Mark Schraad
2006

Great take David. This gets to the real point of the question!

If I were doing this now... I would find an undergrad school that had
a design theory or design thinking program. A program that stressed
the fundamentals and let you dabble in application from ID,
interiors, architecture, graphic and 3d design. I would also take
classes in CS, psych (both cog and behavioral), sociology,
anthropology, business, marketing and engineering. Sounds like a 6
year degree... but I would spread myself that thin. I would learn a
second language and learn how to write effectively. The I would work
for a few years in a design thinking environment (how to find that
would make a great book all by itself). Then and only then would I go
back to grad school and study interaction design.

If this was 10 or more years ago, I would definitely agree that
either industrial design or a good architecture school would be the
place to go.

Mark

On Feb 3, 2007, at 8:44 AM, David Malouf wrote:

> If, I was to go back to school all over again in this day and age,
> BOY would
> I do things differently. ;)
>
> If I was an undergrad, I would study Industrial Design. Or maybe
> find an
> undergraduate minor in IxD. I think SCAD has one. But I would stick
> to a
> design school.
>
> I choose industrial design (or architecture) because both of these
> usually
> have aspects of use involved in them and many of their problem sets
> deal
> with interactivity at some level. But they also really structure
> themselves
> around studio work.
>
> Yup, I'd do ID with an emphasis in human factors and design
> research. That's
> what I'd do. ;)
>
> For those of use who came up the dot.com chain-gang with English,
> Anthro,
> History, Poli Sci, International Studies, Biology, etc. majors and
> who love
> our adopted careers as designers ... How would you have played it
> differently considering that this organic method of career growth
> in IxD is
> probably not nearly as doable as it was circa '94-'99? To be
> honest, as I
> wrote this, I love my past and my growth pattern. I loved being
> part of a
> huge state college (Berkeley) with all that had to offer in community,
> x-disciplinary studies, etc. so its really hard for me to imagine
> the design
> school life for myself that I described above. But I think with
> what I know
> now that's what I would have done diffferently. 20-20 hindsight!
>
> -- dave
>

28 Oct 2013 - 10:52am
JaneHaezer
2012

I went to Vancouver Film School (VFS) Digital Design program a few years ago. And while it is not perfect, is definitely better and more well equip for real work-life experience then most college/university (based on my own experience going to different university in different country, as well as talking to fellow designers around the world). It is a one year course that taught me anything from Information architech, holistic thinking, user interview, classes in presentation, to negotiating for your salary and raise (can't find that in any other school). The instructor (that is what we call the teacher there) is usually award winning designer / design director from different field (IxD, UX, Graphic, HTML coder, etc) which then you have access almost 24/7 to ask question and advice from.

Since most of the people here probably already learn this from experience and all, I just put it out there for all the people looking to get into UX / IxD, since it took me awhile before I found this school. A word of advice, it is not suitable for high school grad people. These are complementary programs after your university and/or go through your internship.

And no, I am not working for VFS.

3 Feb 2007 - 9:50am
Phillip Hunter
2006

So, we have sort of a promising list going, it seems. Is there a way to
preserve it beyond this thread?

>From Daniel:
1) Letting go of their design (not getting close)
2) Talking through the rationale behind elements in a design
3) Demonstrating how it provides value to user/business or both
4) Open to iterating and moving forward
5) Thinking holistically (hard one)

>From David:
1. Well travelled, especially foreign
2. multi-lingual
3. formal design education, (or well mentored career paths)
4. love DESIGN of all kinds
5. are opportunistic, optimistic (always seeing the next opportunity in a
constraint). I really loved Jared's response to me in the whole thread about
enterprise.
6. Can draw
7. have worked with web, software, hardware, systems, etc.
(multi-environments)
8. Can present their own thoughts
9. Fearless in front of CEOs (PH: Love that! Had a good argument with mine
just this week.)
10. Can defend their thinking
11. Detailed oriented
12. Thinks holistically, ecology or system
13. good writer (PH: Should really be communication, overall. A designer
should be confident and successful in varying mediums.)

So,

14 (or 20). Summarized from below, a multi-faceted education and life
experience, with a mixture of the structure and the unstructured. To
extrapolate this, most good designers I know are just interested in a ton of
different things.

15/21. I want to re-emphasize empathy, as well. It's not school-taught
skill, but the ability to walk a mile in someone else's shoes is hugely
valuable, at least in my area of practice. I go back and forth about
whether strong empathy is a gift/curse one is born with. But I do believe
we can all develop it to some degree. And that if you don't have it, your
chances of being a successful designer are very slim.

16/22. I'll extend the skill of empathy to the general study of people; not
in the psych sense alone, but by being acutely observant of the everyday of
others around you. Having both the self-awareness to know the traits that
make you you and then the other-awareness to see and accept and even be glad
for the things that make other people other people is also a key
characteristic.

17/23. Based on observing the list so far: the ability to operate well
within conflict, whether task, self, interpersonal, or corporate. (This is
of course tied to the optimistic opportunism mentioned above)

18/24. I have also noticed that many talented designers (and developers)
have an avid hobby or side gig that is highly creative (and usually
necessarily therapeutic).

ph

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Mark
Schraad
Sent: Saturday, February 03, 2007 9:09 AM
To: dave at ixda.org
Cc: 'discuss IxD'
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] What sets the 'best' interaction designers
apart?

Great take David. This gets to the real point of the question!

If I were doing this now... I would find an undergrad school that had
a design theory or design thinking program. A program that stressed
the fundamentals and let you dabble in application from ID,
interiors, architecture, graphic and 3d design. I would also take
classes in CS, psych (both cog and behavioral), sociology,
anthropology, business, marketing and engineering. Sounds like a 6
year degree... but I would spread myself that thin. I would learn a
second language and learn how to write effectively. The I would work
for a few years in a design thinking environment (how to find that
would make a great book all by itself). Then and only then would I go
back to grad school and study interaction design.

If this was 10 or more years ago, I would definitely agree that
either industrial design or a good architecture school would be the
place to go.

Mark

On Feb 3, 2007, at 8:44 AM, David Malouf wrote:

> If, I was to go back to school all over again in this day and age,
> BOY would
> I do things differently. ;)
>
> If I was an undergrad, I would study Industrial Design. Or maybe
> find an
> undergraduate minor in IxD. I think SCAD has one. But I would stick
> to a
> design school.
>
> I choose industrial design (or architecture) because both of these
> usually
> have aspects of use involved in them and many of their problem sets
> deal
> with interactivity at some level. But they also really structure
> themselves
> around studio work.
>
> Yup, I'd do ID with an emphasis in human factors and design
> research. That's
> what I'd do. ;)
>
> For those of use who came up the dot.com chain-gang with English,
> Anthro,
> History, Poli Sci, International Studies, Biology, etc. majors and
> who love
> our adopted careers as designers ... How would you have played it
> differently considering that this organic method of career growth
> in IxD is
> probably not nearly as doable as it was circa '94-'99? To be
> honest, as I
> wrote this, I love my past and my growth pattern. I loved being
> part of a
> huge state college (Berkeley) with all that had to offer in community,
> x-disciplinary studies, etc. so its really hard for me to imagine
> the design
> school life for myself that I described above. But I think with
> what I know
> now that's what I would have done diffferently. 20-20 hindsight!
>
> -- dave
>

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3 Feb 2007 - 4:12pm
Robert Reimann
2003

I think I have posted this list in the past. The best interaction
designers excel at the core skills, and do well at a good proportion
of the other skills. It's probably impossible to find any one person
with all these skills, but the list is good to consider if you are
building a well-rounded design team.

Robert.

---

INTERACTION DESIGN SKILLS/KNOWLEDGE

Core Skills
Research techniques (online and paper-based)
Ethnography and discovery (studying user goals,
motivations, work patterns)
User modeling (persona and scenario creation;
role-playing)
Product design (product-level interaction
principles and concepts)
Interaction design (function-level interaction
principles and concepts)
Interface design (GUI component-level interaction
principles and concepts)
Information architecture/design (content structure/presentation
principles and concepts)

Business Skills
Project management
Time management
Stakeholder/client management
Basic business writing (letters, email, meeting notes, summaries)

Communications Skills
Rhetoric/persuasive writing
Expository writing and composition
Technical writing
Public speaking/presenting

Interpersonal Skills
Mediation & facilitation
Active listening
Interviewing/observation
Team-building/collaboration

Usability Skills
Knowledge of user testing methods and principles
Knowledge of cognitive psychology principles

Media Skills
Handling bit-depth, pixel density, and resolution issues
Managing color palettes
Icon (pixel-level) design
GUI/screen layout and composition
Page layout and composition
Animation
Sound design
Prototyping (Paper, Visual Basic, HTML, Director, Flash, etc.)
Knowledge of file formats and tradeoffs

Technical Skills
Understanding of basic computer/programming principles, tools, technologies
GUI development principles, tools, technologies
Database principles, tools, technologies
Understanding of software/hw development processes (specs, coding,
testing, etc.)
Knowledge of existing/new technologies and constraints

Tools/Prototyping Skills
PowerPoint
Visio
PhotoShop/Fireworks
Illustrator/Freehand
Director/Flash
MS Word/Framemaker/InDesign
Adobe Acrobat

Personal Skills
Empathy
Passion
Humor
Skepticism
Analytical thinking
Ability to synthesize information (identify salient points)
Ability to visualize solutions (before they are built)

On 2/2/07, Bret Hekking <bhekking at yahoo.com> wrote:
> Hi all -
>
> In your experience, what qualities set the 'best' (defined as you like)
> interaction designers apart?
>
> In hiring, what design exercises have you found effective in identifying the
> 'best' interaction designers?
>
> Thanks,
> Bret Hekking
>
>
>
> ____________________________________________________________________________________
> Food fight? Enjoy some healthy debate
> in the Yahoo! Answers Food & Drink Q&A.
> http://answers.yahoo.com/dir/?link=list&sid=396545367
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
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> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

--
Robert Reimann
President, IxDA

Manager, User Experience
Bose Corporation
Framingham, MA

3 Feb 2007 - 4:46pm
Peter Boersma
2003

Dave wrote:
> Personally, if I have to look for a title to express what I do as a
> generalist (which is what I am), I use User Experience Designer. I like
> Peter B's T model where the average person has to do a lot of things and
> know them broadly but should know 1 thing really well and deeply. Thus a T.

Thanks for the reference Dave (and for those that haven't seen the model, it's introduced here: http://www.peterboersma.com/blog/2004/11/t-model-big-ia-is-now-ux.html and expanded with a business layer here: http://www.peterboersma.com/blog/2005/03/shoulder-ia-t-model-extended-with.html).

As for what education a good interaction designer should have: I'd appreciate a study that approaches design as a structured process, preferably at a level where analytical skills are preferred over practical skills.

I must say I am pretty happy with my collection of courses from different faculties that happened to coincide with the bare-minimum requirements for a Masters Degree in Computer Science (CS) :-)
I combined courses such as Information System Design Methodology and Decision Support Systems (both Computer Science) with courses on Writing Computer User Documentation (Social Sciences), Knowledge Technology for Education (Educational Technology), Human-Computer Interaction, Cognitive Ergonomics, Ergonomics and Organizational Design (all Ergonomics), and Impact of Information Technology (Business Science).

A lot of the better freelance interaction designers I work with have an Industrial Design background, while others have studied interaction design at a school with a strong art department.

Peter
--
Peter Boersma | Senior Interaction Designer | Info.nl
http://www.peterboersma.com/blog | http://www.info.nl

3 Feb 2007 - 9:19pm
Gabriel White
2005

It's interesting that many of the responses here have been about skills.

The skills people have listed here are instructive and useful, but
they are what my philosophy lecturers would have called "necessary but
insufficient conditions for greatness".

Here's a stab at a description that doesn't include things that can be
evaluated by 'hard' measures, and hopefully sets the bar a little
higher.

A great interaction designer is someone who:

- is fanatical about making the world a better place

- can synthesise understanding and creativity to produce magical insight

- can inspire others to share their vision

- whose leadership infects others so much that together they create
amazing things

- can extrude opportunity where others only see status-quo

- creates things that engage and amaze

- creates things that forces people to shift their expectations and world view

- who remains true to their vision and authentic to themselves

In my mind there is also a subtle but important distinction that needs
to be made about to what end you are evaluating a designer. There's
one way of evaluation that looks at a person's design output.

But a great designer (for me) is often someone who inspires me to
think about design and the world differently. Every time someone
shifts my perspective is a magical moment.

Gabe

3 Feb 2007 - 11:11pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Feb 3, 2007, at 10:50 AM, Phillip Hunter wrote:

> So, we have sort of a promising list going, it seems. Is there a
> way to
> preserve it beyond this thread?

Goodness, no!

The entire point of this list is to have the same conversations over
and over again.

Oh, wait. I was thinking of SIGIA-L.

Nevermind.

Jared

4 Feb 2007 - 12:10am
bhekking
2006

Thank you all, this has been very interesting. I'm glad to have stumbled upon a
lively topic.

I asked this question largely for personal reasons, since I'm an ex-developer
eager to put my past behind me (writing code has very little to do w/design
IMO, although it's a good way to demonstrate kinship with developers) and,
while I think I'm a good designer, it's helpful to know what you think makes
the best designers.

I'm in mid-career, and earning my MS in Human Factors at Bentley College, near
Boston. It's a great program, and I'm really loving it, but I feel it's weak on
(interacton) design, as it offers no studio course or truly substantive
opportunity to exercise design skills or 'design thinking'. That said, I find
the program strong on process, evaluation, human cognition/perception.

Your feedback has helped me to frame this issue more clearly with respect to my
career development plans, and I thank you all.

- Bret Hekking

____________________________________________________________________________________
Need a quick answer? Get one in minutes from people who know.
Ask your question on www.Answers.yahoo.com

4 Feb 2007 - 11:42am
Dave Malouf
2005

Actually, the answer is yes, there are places to find these threads and new
ones are being created.

What exists todat are the archives of the list and a service called
Nabble.com (just search IxDA when you get there.). These are both flat text
searchable archives. Nabble has some added functiinality, but not a lot
more.

The future is a project being work on now in a closed beta, getting close
to an oen beta this quarter. When we did our pledge drive the end of last
year we mention something called , prject Donahue. Creating a knowledgebase
from the list is one of the biggest components of this prject. It will
enable eole to create favorites, add tags, and create toic pages so tjat
retrieval of this information is easier.

Anyway, just wanted to remind people that we've heard you and are resonding.

Dave

___
David Malouf
dave (at) ixda.org
http://synapticburn.com/
http://ixda.org/

4 Feb 2007 - 5:10am
lisa herrod
2007

Hi All,

I notice that there's been a bit of discussion around technical knowledge
and particularly coding abilities, which is what I'm interested in exploring
more in this thread.

On 04/02/07, Bret Hekking <bhekking at yahoo.com> wrote:
>
>
> (writing code has very little to do w/design IMO, although it's a good way
> to demonstrate kinship with developers)

As Interaction Designers, surely a solid understanding of coding html and
particularly accessibility is essential..? Not just so you can build better
relationships with developers, but so you can design and specify better
interfaces.

Lisa Herrod

4 Feb 2007 - 1:55pm
Dave Malouf
2005

> On 04/02/07, Bret Hekking <bhekking at yahoo.com> wrote:
> >
> >
> > (writing code has very little to do w/design IMO, although
> it's a good way
> > to demonstrate kinship with developers)
>
>
>
> As Interaction Designers, surely a solid understanding of
> coding html and
> particularly accessibility is essential..? Not just so you
> can build better
> relationships with developers, but so you can design and
> specify better
> interfaces.

Why? Since when is IxD soley the domain of the web?
I work in Mobile devices running embedded software. Should I be expected to
code Windows Mobile 6 applications in C# or C++, or use Visual Studio?

IxD exists outside the coding framework.

Now it is important to understand the capabilities and limitations and
issues around the environment you are working in, but to be a great IxD is
to be beyond that.

4 Feb 2007 - 1:56pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Feb 4, 2007, at 12:42 PM, David Malouf wrote:

> The future is a project being work on now in a closed beta

Serious question: What's the difference between a "closed beta" and
an "alpha"?

(In my day, all betas were closed. What we call today as an "open
beta", we would've called "the release of a buggy system.")

:)

Jared

4 Feb 2007 - 2:13pm
milan
2005

> As Interaction Designers, surely a solid understanding of coding html and
> particularly accessibility is essential..? Not just so you can build better
> relationships with developers, but so you can design and specify better
> interfaces.

I agree. Sure you can imagine great things with just
"user"-understanding of the technology, but if you have no understanding
of the technical details, the result cannot be realised. This is what
recruiters here always call "know the limitations / restrictions of
technologies". But I think even that is not enough - designers should be
able to code for several reasons :

- As mentioned, understand the limitations and possibilities of
technical frameworks (if approprate client- AND server-side), to choose
the right medium in the first place - be it jsf with html, java/swing,
openlaszlo or whatever
- Be able to build prototypes that show not just the look, but also the
to a limited extent the "feel" of an app
- Provide help, input and inspiration for developers implementing the
project, as a specialist for (technical) frontend / ui questions.

Finally, as John Maeda demonstrates, being able to code is great for
producing designs abroad of flash, indesign and their colleagues.

milan

4 Feb 2007 - 2:21pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Feb 4, 2007, at 2:55 PM, David Malouf wrote:

>> As Interaction Designers, surely a solid understanding of
>> coding html and
>> particularly accessibility is essential..? Not just so you
>> can build better
>> relationships with developers, but so you can design and
>> specify better
>> interfaces.
>
> Why? Since when is IxD soley the domain of the web?
> I work in Mobile devices running embedded software. Should I be
> expected to
> code Windows Mobile 6 applications in C# or C++, or use Visual Studio?
>
> IxD exists outside the coding framework.
>
> Now it is important to understand the capabilities and limitations and
> issues around the environment you are working in, but to be a great
> IxD is
> to be beyond that.

I love traveling in the Netherlands because everyone there speaks
English. I don't have to work hard to communicate with them, since
they speak it fluently.

I've found that other parts of the world (like New Jersey) don't work
that way -- I have to make the effort to learn the local language
just to have basic communication.

One reason to know how to code (and how to architect platforms and
systems) is so you can more easily communicate with people who many
not be as versed in your native tongue.

Jared

4 Feb 2007 - 2:25pm
lisa herrod
2007

On 05/02/07, David Malouf <dave at ixda.org> wrote:
>
>
> > On 04/02/07, Bret Hekking <bhekking at yahoo.com> wrote:
> > >
> > >
> > > (writing code has very little to do w/design IMO, although
> > it's a good way
> > > to demonstrate kinship with developers)
> >
> >
> >
> > As Interaction Designers, surely a solid understanding of
> > coding html and
> > particularly accessibility is essential..? Not just so you
> > can build better
> > relationships with developers, but so you can design and
> > specify better
> > interfaces.
>
> Why? Since when is IxD soley the domain of the web?

I work in Mobile devices running embedded software. Should I be expected to
> code Windows Mobile 6 applications in C# or C++, or use Visual Studio?
>
> IxD exists outside the coding framework.

Sure good point. I work soley n the web and was just thinking of it from
that perspective. But that's a fair point.

Now it is important to understand the capabilities and limitations and
> issues around the environment you are working in, but to be a great IxD is
> to be beyond that.

I don't believe accessibility, for example, is one of those things you can
"go around" . I also believe that to be a great IxD, to go beyond is to
address complex layers such as accessibility.

The main reason I'm using accessibility as an example is because I believe
it's a technical skill that affects the ID and the UI. It often tends to be
considered as an independent / specialist consideration, and I believe we
should take an holistic approach to design. Not just by paying attention to
the needs of the user, but also by focusing on all development roles that
impact on ID and the UI.

4 Feb 2007 - 2:30pm
Dave Malouf
2005

> I love traveling in the Netherlands because everyone there speaks
> English. I don't have to work hard to communicate with them, since
> they speak it fluently.
>
> I've found that other parts of the world (like New Jersey)
> don't work
> that way -- I have to make the effort to learn the local language
> just to have basic communication.
>
> One reason to know how to code (and how to architect platforms and
> systems) is so you can more easily communicate with people who many
> not be as versed in your native tongue.

As I said it is important to understand technology.
Linguisticly speaking, I resent that Designers need to learn the language of
code but developers don't have to learn the language of design. But
resentment aside, my design career has grown out of technology, but in the
context of being a great designer, I see that coding ability is not nearly
as important as understanding what technology can do. Being able to speak
HTML, MySQL, JS, Java, etc. has in many instances been a detriment and not a
help b/c engineers feel designers who can code are steppin' on their toes
(at best) or at worst, want to pass the buck on the pieces that they find
the least interesting (the GUI) and expect the design team to produce
release level code.

To clarify, understanding the medium that you are designing for is what is
crucial here, not being able to do the actual engineering itself.

If I was an industrial designer, I would need to understand how injection
molding of plastic works for example and the cost of different types of
plastics, but I don't need to know how to make that plastic myself with X
formula of organic chemistry.

I'm sure it would help me communicate better, but it is more important that
I know good design than know O-Chem. Same with program engineering.

I often think that the expectation is there for IxD b/c soooo many people in
IxD Can (they often came from technology backgrounds themselves) and they
have seen it as an advantage tot heir careers. But it just doesn't scale in
the long term growth of a discipline.

-- dave

4 Feb 2007 - 2:51pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Feb 4, 2007, at 3:30 PM, David Malouf wrote:

> Being able to speak
> HTML, MySQL, JS, Java, etc. has in many instances been a detriment
> and not a
> help b/c engineers feel designers who can code are steppin' on
> their toes
> (at best) or at worst, want to pass the buck on the pieces that
> they find
> the least interesting (the GUI) and expect the design team to produce
> release level code.

Isn't that just bad design/engineering management? Is that really a
problem that the designer actually knows how to code? This feels to
me like it's a cultural issue that is group-specific and could be
resolved with a good design/engineering manager.

> I often think that the expectation is there for IxD b/c soooo many
> people in
> IxD Can (they often came from technology backgrounds themselves)
> and they
> have seen it as an advantage tot heir careers. But it just doesn't
> scale in
> the long term growth of a discipline.

I find this negative reaction to having a skill as curious. It's
almost as if the people who don't have the skill are showing their
insecurities by reacting so strongly to this idea.

If designs are my products and developers are my customers, it makes
sense that the more I know about my customers and their environments/
capabilities, the better I'm going to serve their needs. In this
context, to say, "they should learn the language of design" is the
equivalent of telling car owners that they should know how to build a
transmission so they can drive to work.

Of course, this begs the issue: does design serve development or does
development serve design? :)

If you don't have a skill, how do you know that having it would not
help you?

Jared

4 Feb 2007 - 2:59pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Ok, I'm a damn good HTML/JavaScript coder. Above average, so I ain't showin'
any insecurities here, Mr. Spool. ;)

Putting that aside.

Developers are the Customers of design????????

Collaborators? Yes.

Customers?????

As to your analogy about transmission, it doesn't fit at all. Developers are
not the USERS of design. In the right culture they are the collaborators
with designers to create that design.

Designers are tasked with knowing business, knowing technology, knowing
design. Finally, business folks are being tasked with knowing design, but
that is very recent. But this is a 3-way collaboration and learning
everyone's vocabularly is everyone's job, not just one groups.

This is a ridiculour notion.

I never said it wouldn't help to KNOW code. The original thread was about
what makes a great IxD and to me CODE and engineering SKILL is way down on
that totem pole of important things that a designer needs to make them stand
out.

If I was an up & coming designer today, I would NOT learn code as part of my
core skillset except as a means of prototyping (communicating) my designs.
But there are so many tools out there that "protect" me from doing "code"
that I don't see it as that important.

To the cultural issues comment. Until there is a perfect design/development
environment, educating towards cultural realities is a challenge for any
growing discipline amongst more established disciplines. To ignore the
current cultural climate between your collaborators is to do a disservice to
those you are mentoring. Ideals are nice for those in glass towers, but
unless you control your entire environment, it is a very very messy slippery
slope to deal with.

-- dave

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Jared M. Spool [mailto:jspool at uie.com]
> Sent: Sunday, February 04, 2007 3:52 PM
> To: dave at ixda.org
> Cc: discuss at ixda.org
> Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] What sets the 'best' interaction
> designers apart?
>
>
> On Feb 4, 2007, at 3:30 PM, David Malouf wrote:
>
> > Being able to speak
> > HTML, MySQL, JS, Java, etc. has in many instances been a detriment
> > and not a
> > help b/c engineers feel designers who can code are steppin' on
> > their toes
> > (at best) or at worst, want to pass the buck on the pieces that
> > they find
> > the least interesting (the GUI) and expect the design team
> to produce
> > release level code.
>
> Isn't that just bad design/engineering management? Is that really a
> problem that the designer actually knows how to code? This feels to
> me like it's a cultural issue that is group-specific and could be
> resolved with a good design/engineering manager.
>
> > I often think that the expectation is there for IxD b/c soooo many
> > people in
> > IxD Can (they often came from technology backgrounds themselves)
> > and they
> > have seen it as an advantage tot heir careers. But it just doesn't
> > scale in
> > the long term growth of a discipline.
>
> I find this negative reaction to having a skill as curious. It's
> almost as if the people who don't have the skill are showing their
> insecurities by reacting so strongly to this idea.
>
> If designs are my products and developers are my customers, it makes
> sense that the more I know about my customers and their environments/
> capabilities, the better I'm going to serve their needs. In this
> context, to say, "they should learn the language of design" is the
> equivalent of telling car owners that they should know how to
> build a
> transmission so they can drive to work.
>
> Of course, this begs the issue: does design serve development
> or does
> development serve design? :)
>
> If you don't have a skill, how do you know that having it would not
> help you?
>
> Jared
>
>
>

4 Feb 2007 - 3:10pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

Yup. Hit a nerve. That's for sure. Nurse, hand me the novocaine
syringe. :D

I don't see what you're saying as a career development issue (should
I have/not have a particular skill to enhance my career).

I see it as a design/engineering management issue (how do we build
effective teams of designers/developers).

If it's collaboration, as you say, and not service, then learning
coding/technology-platform skills can only help, I would think, in
that it gives you a short-cut for communication and a deeper
understanding of the issues on both sides of the fence.

As the management of the group, you could say, "Designers design,
developers develop, ne'er the 'tween shall meet." But, I don't see
that as an effective management approach.

I would think you'd want a team where communication would be
smoothest and that could mean having a common understanding of the
terminology, technologies, and processes. Designers in this context
wouldn't have to be great coders, but having the experience and
knowledge of what that is about could be very helpful, I would think.

In any regard, it's an interesting question. As we go forward in our
research into effective teams, I'll definitely make sure we take the
cross-disciplinary skills into account to see how they factor out.

Ok, nurse, we're done here. You can apply the suction and close up
the wound now.

Jared

On Feb 4, 2007, at 3:59 PM, David Malouf wrote:

> Ok, I'm a damn good HTML/JavaScript coder. Above average, so I
> ain't showin'
> any insecurities here, Mr. Spool. ;)
>
> Putting that aside.
>
> Developers are the Customers of design????????
>
> Collaborators? Yes.
>
> Customers?????
>
> As to your analogy about transmission, it doesn't fit at all.
> Developers are
> not the USERS of design. In the right culture they are the
> collaborators
> with designers to create that design.
>
> Designers are tasked with knowing business, knowing technology,
> knowing
> design. Finally, business folks are being tasked with knowing
> design, but
> that is very recent. But this is a 3-way collaboration and learning
> everyone's vocabularly is everyone's job, not just one groups.
>
> This is a ridiculour notion.
>
> I never said it wouldn't help to KNOW code. The original thread was
> about
> what makes a great IxD and to me CODE and engineering SKILL is way
> down on
> that totem pole of important things that a designer needs to make
> them stand
> out.
>
> If I was an up & coming designer today, I would NOT learn code as
> part of my
> core skillset except as a means of prototyping (communicating) my
> designs.
> But there are so many tools out there that "protect" me from doing
> "code"
> that I don't see it as that important.
>
> To the cultural issues comment. Until there is a perfect design/
> development
> environment, educating towards cultural realities is a challenge
> for any
> growing discipline amongst more established disciplines. To ignore the
> current cultural climate between your collaborators is to do a
> disservice to
> those you are mentoring. Ideals are nice for those in glass towers,
> but
> unless you control your entire environment, it is a very very messy
> slippery
> slope to deal with.
>
> -- dave
>
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Jared M. Spool [mailto:jspool at uie.com]
>> Sent: Sunday, February 04, 2007 3:52 PM
>> To: dave at ixda.org
>> Cc: discuss at ixda.org
>> Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] What sets the 'best' interaction
>> designers apart?
>>
>>
>> On Feb 4, 2007, at 3:30 PM, David Malouf wrote:
>>
>>> Being able to speak
>>> HTML, MySQL, JS, Java, etc. has in many instances been a detriment
>>> and not a
>>> help b/c engineers feel designers who can code are steppin' on
>>> their toes
>>> (at best) or at worst, want to pass the buck on the pieces that
>>> they find
>>> the least interesting (the GUI) and expect the design team
>> to produce
>>> release level code.
>>
>> Isn't that just bad design/engineering management? Is that really a
>> problem that the designer actually knows how to code? This feels to
>> me like it's a cultural issue that is group-specific and could be
>> resolved with a good design/engineering manager.
>>
>>> I often think that the expectation is there for IxD b/c soooo many
>>> people in
>>> IxD Can (they often came from technology backgrounds themselves)
>>> and they
>>> have seen it as an advantage tot heir careers. But it just doesn't
>>> scale in
>>> the long term growth of a discipline.
>>
>> I find this negative reaction to having a skill as curious. It's
>> almost as if the people who don't have the skill are showing their
>> insecurities by reacting so strongly to this idea.
>>
>> If designs are my products and developers are my customers, it makes
>> sense that the more I know about my customers and their environments/
>> capabilities, the better I'm going to serve their needs. In this
>> context, to say, "they should learn the language of design" is the
>> equivalent of telling car owners that they should know how to
>> build a
>> transmission so they can drive to work.
>>
>> Of course, this begs the issue: does design serve development
>> or does
>> development serve design? :)
>>
>> If you don't have a skill, how do you know that having it would not
>> help you?
>>
>> Jared
>>
>>
>>
>
>

4 Feb 2007 - 3:43pm
Alder Yarrow
2004

I'm all for letting this wound get a bit more air before it's sutured.
Definitely one of the more interesting discussions round these parts in some
time.

I'd like to draw the distinction between saying IxDs need to code, and
saying they simply need to know how.

The original question that started this thread is right there in the subject
line. I won't say that knowing how to code is a requirement to be a good
IxD, but in my experience the best interaction designers I've worked with
have all known how. Maybe that's the fallacy of affirming the causant, but
I'd say it's probably a pretty strong correlation for all the reasons that
Jared so eloquently put forth.

Alder

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Jared
M. Spool
Sent: Sunday, February 04, 2007 1:10 PM
To: dave at ixda.org
Cc: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] What sets the 'best' interaction designers
apart?

Ok, nurse, we're done here. You can apply the suction and close up the wound
now.

4 Feb 2007 - 6:59pm
Phillip Hunter
2006

>" I'd say it's probably a pretty strong correlation..."

Correlation? Can you really show any correlation between knowing how to
code and good designs? ;)

Actually, most of the best designers I know can code to some degree, or at
least talk the talk. But I have known a couple who don't have a clue about
code and yet create great stuff. I will say that they "compensate" by
having an even deeper design domain expertise than most.

ph

4 Feb 2007 - 10:41pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> In your experience, what qualities set the 'best' (defined as you like)
> interaction designers apart?

The best interaction designers have an innate drive to do a better job
than anyone else of making the design invisible. As in, the more the
resulting designs "just work", the better the designer.

> In hiring, what design exercises have you found effective in identifying the
> 'best' interaction designers?

This is a different question entirely, because you can only find "the
best" within the pool of candidates that applies for the particular
job you have open. In this case, you can't strive to get "the best"
designer, only to get someone who fits in the best with your
establishment.

Have the interviewee review an existing design that you believe to be
fairly solid. Measure his//her points against your own. Whoever
matches the most wins. Also have him/her do a quick wireframe, off the
top of his/her head, and have the team do a review of it atfer the
interview. Best design wins.

Beyond this, of course, you have to consider synergy. "The best"
designer may very well be one you *don't* want on your team.

-r-

4 Feb 2007 - 10:54pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

Wow. I was just thinking about replying again to say that I think the
best designers are also the ones with vision, and the drive and people
skills to pull it off. Gabriel's list, however, is far superior to
what I had in mind.

Bravo.

-r-

On 2/3/07, Gabriel White <gabrielwhite at gmail.com> wrote:
> It's interesting that many of the responses here have been about skills.
>
> The skills people have listed here are instructive and useful, but
> they are what my philosophy lecturers would have called "necessary but
> insufficient conditions for greatness".
>
> Here's a stab at a description that doesn't include things that can be
> evaluated by 'hard' measures, and hopefully sets the bar a little
> higher.
>
> A great interaction designer is someone who:
>
> - is fanatical about making the world a better place
>
> - can synthesise understanding and creativity to produce magical insight
>
> - can inspire others to share their vision
>
> - whose leadership infects others so much that together they create
> amazing things
>
> - can extrude opportunity where others only see status-quo
>
> - creates things that engage and amaze
>
> - creates things that forces people to shift their expectations and world view
>
> - who remains true to their vision and authentic to themselves
>
> In my mind there is also a subtle but important distinction that needs
> to be made about to what end you are evaluating a designer. There's
> one way of evaluation that looks at a person's design output.
>
> But a great designer (for me) is often someone who inspires me to
> think about design and the world differently. Every time someone
> shifts my perspective is a magical moment.
>
> Gabe

5 Feb 2007 - 1:18am
Kevin Wong
2007

What would be interesting to see then is where our own backgrounds
come from and if that has any impact on what we see in "best
interaction designers."

I'm only a student, so my experience is vastly limited... anyone else
care to start?

Kevin

On Feb 4, 2007, at 4:59 PM, Phillip Hunter wrote:

>> " I'd say it's probably a pretty strong correlation..."
>
> Correlation? Can you really show any correlation between knowing
> how to
> code and good designs? ;)
>
> Actually, most of the best designers I know can code to some
> degree, or at
> least talk the talk. But I have known a couple who don't have a
> clue about
> code and yet create great stuff. I will say that they "compensate" by
> having an even deeper design domain expertise than most.
>
> ph

5 Feb 2007 - 7:43am
Todd Warfel
2003

On Feb 4, 2007, at 4:10 PM, Jared M. Spool wrote:

> If it's collaboration, as you say, and not service, then learning
> coding/technology-platform skills can only help, I would think, in
> that it gives you a short-cut for communication and a deeper
> understanding of the issues on both sides of the fence.
>
> As the management of the group, you could say, "Designers design,
> developers develop, ne'er the 'tween shall meet." But, I don't see
> that as an effective management approach.

I'm one of those people who doesn't believe you have to code to be a
great designer. I do believe that understanding the frameworks your
development team is using, or even being able to code in them (if
even a little bit) makes you a better design. Speaking from
experience, it gives you the ability to push back on issues when Dev
says "Um, we can't do that." By knowing the environment, you can say
"What if we did X? Wouldn't that work?" And if you really need to,
you can show them a working prototype and say "We'll, I know this
isn't final, and it's nowhere near as good as you guys can do, but
here's a prototype of doing X."

Not a necessity, but definitely a benefit.

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
Partner, Design & Usability Specialist
Messagefirst | Designing Information. Beautifully.
----------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (215) 825-7423
Email: todd at messagefirst.com
AIM: twarfel at mac.com
Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
----------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

5 Feb 2007 - 8:24am
Ari
2006

i agree. the more you know about the particular limits of a given
technology, the better.

of course, the best interaction designers don't do things in a vacuum - you
take a pass, run it by the developers and other constituencies (as
required), make revisions and then set things into motion.

the worst thing is when you have designers who know nothing about what's
possible (technically) and they design things accordingly.

On 2/5/07, Todd Zaki Warfel <lists at toddwarfel.com> wrote:
>
>
> On Feb 4, 2007, at 4:10 PM, Jared M. Spool wrote:
>
> > If it's collaboration, as you say, and not service, then learning
> > coding/technology-platform skills can only help, I would think, in
> > that it gives you a short-cut for communication and a deeper
> > understanding of the issues on both sides of the fence.
> >
> > As the management of the group, you could say, "Designers design,
> > developers develop, ne'er the 'tween shall meet." But, I don't see
> > that as an effective management approach.
>
> I'm one of those people who doesn't believe you have to code to be a
> great designer. I do believe that understanding the frameworks your
> development team is using, or even being able to code in them (if
> even a little bit) makes you a better design. Speaking from
> experience, it gives you the ability to push back on issues when Dev
> says "Um, we can't do that." By knowing the environment, you can say
> "What if we did X? Wouldn't that work?" And if you really need to,
> you can show them a working prototype and say "We'll, I know this
> isn't final, and it's nowhere near as good as you guys can do, but
> here's a prototype of doing X."
>
> Not a necessity, but definitely a benefit.
>
>
> Cheers!
>
> Todd Zaki Warfel
> Partner, Design & Usability Specialist
> Messagefirst | Designing Information. Beautifully.
> ----------------------------------
> Contact Info
> Voice: (215) 825-7423
> Email: todd at messagefirst.com
> AIM: twarfel at mac.com
> Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
> ----------------------------------
> In theory, theory and practice are the same.
> In practice, they are not.
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
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----------------------------------------------------------------
http://www.flyingyogi.com

5 Feb 2007 - 10:50am
Michael Micheletti
2006

I believe that other design and engineering disciplines encourage production
knowledge as a pathway towards practicality. Industrial engineers understand
materials and machine tools, even if they aren't the most gifted of NC
operators. Aerospace engineers understand tool clearances and installation
requirements, even if they don't install avionics themselves. Interior
designers know fabrics and lighting, even if they don't install fixtures.
Graphic designers know paper and ink and color, even if they don't paint the
billboard themselves.

Interaction designers who have no first-hand knowledge of software
production will not know what is easy, what is expensive, what is an
enhancement, what is a tear-down, or what is a magnificently brilliant
patentable design revelation that will take a year to create and drive their
company out of business.

Interaction designers who know how code is built and have built it
themselves have street cred with the very skeptical people who make up a dev
team. If this is you, you know what I mean and how much it helps you, and
how much it helps you to guide projects towards a successful resolution.

Michael Micheletti

On 2/5/07, Ari Feldman <ari1970 at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>
> the worst thing is when you have designers who know nothing about what's
> possible (technically) and they design things accordingly.
>
>

5 Feb 2007 - 11:55am
Dave Malouf
2005

Michael Micheletti wrote:
> Interaction designers who have no first-hand knowledge of software
> production will not know what is easy, what is expensive, what is an
> enhancement, what is a tear-down, or what is a magnificently brilliant
> patentable design revelation that will take a year to create and drive
> their
> company out of business.

I think that having experience with code is good, and having an
understanding of engineering needs overall is vital if you are designing
interactions where GUI is being created (let's talk about remote controls,
eh?), but I don't think that "first-hand knowledge of software" is
actually it.

My experience tells me that every time I go in there and say, X & Y are
easy b/c I can do it, I get sent back at me an avalanche of backend
gibberish explaining why it isn't. Now it could be said that I need more
depth of knowledge of programming, but the reality is that it just doesn't
scale. If I had "enough" knowledge to "compete" with the engineering team
then I would be, well an engineer, and have 2-degrees, instead of 1. I
think there is a slippery slope.

More importantly to all this, is that no one is really challenging, or
otherwise focusing on the DESIGN aspects of the criteria people have
written up here.

Personally, if I had to pick 10 things that make a great designer, I'm not
sure code would be on there. Maybe if I had 20 things, but not 10.
Meaning, a great designer is beyond medium, where understanding specific
code becomes meaningless. That said, understanding technology would be in
that list.

Personally, I'm more interested in the other 9 things.

-- dave

--
--
David Malouf
dave at ixda.org
http://ixda.org/

5 Feb 2007 - 12:05pm
Ari
2006

i was a comp sci major back in '88 and '89 back when the VAX was king and
56KB dedicated lines to the Internet were screamers. i can code but i'm a
lousy programmer. however, after working on numerous complex web and desktop
projects over the years from games to custom advertising systems, i
understand most of the issues that impact product design from a technical
perspective from scaling, to performance to infrastructure.

you need to know or at least be aware of these issues and *always* work
closely with engineering to insure that they know what you want and you know
what can and can't be done.

i would put down technical ability high on the list. without it, you're
pretty screwed on most types of products/projects.

On 2/5/07, David Malouf <dave at ixda.org> wrote:
>
>
> Michael Micheletti wrote:
> > Interaction designers who have no first-hand knowledge of software
> > production will not know what is easy, what is expensive, what is an
> > enhancement, what is a tear-down, or what is a magnificently brilliant
> > patentable design revelation that will take a year to create and drive
> > their
> > company out of business.
>
> I think that having experience with code is good, and having an
> understanding of engineering needs overall is vital if you are designing
> interactions where GUI is being created (let's talk about remote controls,
> eh?), but I don't think that "first-hand knowledge of software" is
> actually it.
>
> My experience tells me that every time I go in there and say, X & Y are
> easy b/c I can do it, I get sent back at me an avalanche of backend
> gibberish explaining why it isn't. Now it could be said that I need more
> depth of knowledge of programming, but the reality is that it just doesn't
> scale. If I had "enough" knowledge to "compete" with the engineering team
> then I would be, well an engineer, and have 2-degrees, instead of 1. I
> think there is a slippery slope.
>
> More importantly to all this, is that no one is really challenging, or
> otherwise focusing on the DESIGN aspects of the criteria people have
> written up here.
>
> Personally, if I had to pick 10 things that make a great designer, I'm not
> sure code would be on there. Maybe if I had 20 things, but not 10.
> Meaning, a great designer is beyond medium, where understanding specific
> code becomes meaningless. That said, understanding technology would be in
> that list.
>
> Personally, I'm more interested in the other 9 things.
>
> -- dave
>
>
>
>
> --
> --
> David Malouf
> dave at ixda.org
> http://ixda.org/
>
>

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http://www.flyingyogi.com

5 Feb 2007 - 12:18pm
bhekking
2006

> My experience tells me that every time I go in there and say, X & Y are
> easy b/c I can do it, I get sent back at me an avalanche of backend
> gibberish explaining why it isn't. Now it could be said that I need more
> depth of knowledge of programming, but the reality is that it just doesn't
> scale. If I had "enough" knowledge to "compete" with the engineering team
> then I would be, well an engineer, and have 2-degrees, instead of 1. I

I agree - in my experience (as a software company employee), 'enough' technical
knowledge is simply the amount your dev team/dev management needs so that they
feel OK with you being at the decision-making table, not to compete with them.
Once you get a seat at the table, though, it's up to you to provide value as a
designer.

If that level of 'enough' is not enough, then you've got bigger problems, i.e.,
the company/org isn't adequately supporting your role, and you can either look
elsewhere, re-define/re-cast your role, or start an internal PR campaign in the
hopes of building more support.

- Bret

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5 Feb 2007 - 12:29pm
Mark Schraad
2006

I don't buy it. I do not want my designers coding. They should have a good awareness of the technology, but that can happen without the technical skill set. I also do not want designers incumbered by technology limitations. I want them designing optimally - and then working with tech developers to see "how we can pull this off."

Mark

>i would put down technical ability high on the list. without it, you're
>pretty screwed on most types of products/projects.
>

5 Feb 2007 - 12:47pm
Ari
2006

Where/when did I say they should code? Rather, I said it would be very
helpful for anyone doing interaction design to have technical knowledge.

I came from an environment where everything was dictated by design and a
good deal was questionable regarding how easy or viable it was to implement.
To be frank, it was a real problem.

I'm all for letting designers design but it should be a collaboration
between design and development - not self-contained silos that don't talk to
each other.

It also depends on what you're designing. A brochure ware website can get by
just fine with the scenario you've outlined but more complex projects can't.

On 2/5/07, Mark Schraad <mschraad at mac.com> wrote:
>
> I don't buy it. I do not want my designers coding. They should have a good
> awareness of the technology, but that can happen without the technical skill
> set. I also do not want designers incumbered by technology limitations. I
> want them designing optimally - and then working with tech developers to see
> "how we can pull this off."
>
> Mark
>
>
>
> >i would put down technical ability high on the list. without it, you're
> >pretty screwed on most types of products/projects.
> >
>
>
>

--
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http://www.flyingyogi.com

5 Feb 2007 - 1:00pm
Mark Schraad
2006

>Where/when did I say they should code?

When you said "technical ability" below.

>Rather, I said it would be very
>helpful for anyone doing interaction design to have technical knowledge.
>
>I came from an environment where everything was dictated by design and a
>good deal was questionable regarding how easy or viable it was to implement.
>To be frank, it was a real problem.

I understand that problem. That is very fixable. Not pushing the design because of technology is a much harder issue to overcome. I would rather the context and user dictate the outcomes than the technology.

>I'm all for letting designers design but it should be a collaboration
>between design and development - not self-contained silos that don't talk to
>each other.
>

Absolutely aggree. So the answer is to bring in the dev group at the beginning, rather than let design get down the road without colaborative input.

>It also depends on what you're designing. A brochure ware website can get by
>just fine with the scenario you've outlined but more complex projects can't.
>

Absolutely. But what is much more interesting is when both designers and developers have high hurdles and work together to push the capabilites of both. Otherwise it can be, well - boring.

>
>On 2/5/07, Mark Schraad <mschraad at mac.com> wrote:
>>
>> I don't buy it. I do not want my designers coding. They should have a good
>> awareness of the technology, but that can happen without the technical skill
>> set. I also do not want designers incumbered by technology limitations. I
>> want them designing optimally - and then working with tech developers to see
>> "how we can pull this off."
>>
>> Mark
>>

>> >i would put down technical ability high on the list. without it, you're
>> >pretty screwed on most types of products/projects.
>> >

5 Feb 2007 - 1:15pm
Ari
2006

On 2/5/07, Mark Schraad <mschraad at mac.com> wrote:
>
>
> >Where/when did I say they should code?
>
> When you said "technical ability" below.

Hmm...there's a fairly big difference between knowing the theory behind how
a data-driven website works and writing hand-optimized SQL queries!

>Rather, I said it would be very
> >helpful for anyone doing interaction design to have technical knowledge.
> >
> >I came from an environment where everything was dictated by design and a
> >good deal was questionable regarding how easy or viable it was to
> implement.
> >To be frank, it was a real problem.
>
> I understand that problem. That is very fixable. Not pushing the design
> because of technology is a much harder issue to overcome. I would rather the
> context and user dictate the outcomes than the technology.

It is fixable - but requires cultural acceptance for it to work. Who says
design should be pushed? There are times when it is appropriate to push the
envelope but often, it's just as good to play it safe.

>I'm all for letting designers design but it should be a collaboration
> >between design and development - not self-contained silos that don't talk
> to
> >each other.
> >
>
> Absolutely aggree. So the answer is to bring in the dev group at the
> beginning, rather than let design get down the road without colaborative
> input.

Agreed.

>It also depends on what you're designing. A brochure ware website can get
> by
> >just fine with the scenario you've outlined but more complex projects
> can't.
> >
>
> Absolutely. But what is much more interesting is when both designers and
> developers have high hurdles and work together to push the capabilites of
> both. Otherwise it can be, well - boring.

True. No one likes boring but it's not about pushing new frontiers - it's
about creating usable and effective solutions to existing problems.

>
> >On 2/5/07, Mark Schraad <mschraad at mac.com> wrote:
> >>
> >> I don't buy it. I do not want my designers coding. They should have a
> good
> >> awareness of the technology, but that can happen without the technical
> skill
> >> set. I also do not want designers incumbered by technology limitations.
> I
> >> want them designing optimally - and then working with tech developers
> to see
> >> "how we can pull this off."
> >>
> >> Mark
> >>
>
> >> >i would put down technical ability high on the list. without it,
> you're
> >> >pretty screwed on most types of products/projects.
> >> >
>
>

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http://www.flyingyogi.com

5 Feb 2007 - 2:16pm
Phillip Hunter
2006

Ari wrote:

>...it's not about pushing new frontiers - it's about creating usable and
effective solutions to >existing problems.

I have found that the true solutions to many existing problems involve
pushing new frontiers of design. It is often the accepted practice that
prolongs the existence of these problems.

Phillip

5 Feb 2007 - 2:18pm
Ari
2006

Ok, fair enough. Please cite some examples of this. I can cite a few myself
where being forced to push the frontiers complicated and delayed projects.
I'm all for using cool technology and design techniques but when warranted
not for the sake of doing them because they were possible.

On 2/5/07, Phillip Hunter <phillip at speechcycle.com> wrote:
>
> Ari wrote:
>
> >...it's not about pushing new frontiers - it's about creating usable and
> effective solutions to >existing problems.
>
> I have found that the true solutions to many existing problems involve
> pushing new frontiers of design. It is often the accepted practice that
> prolongs the existence of these problems.
>
> Phillip
>
>

--
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