Coding and IxD (was: What sets the 'best' interaction designers apart?)

4 Feb 2007 - 3:35pm
7 years ago
4 replies
866 reads
Dan Saffer
2003

On Feb 4, 2007, at 3:10 AM, lisa herrod 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.

I agree that knowing a little code is helpful. I disagree, however,
that all interaction designers need to be coders. What's necessary is:

- an ability to understand the constraints and possibilities of the
medium you are working in, so that you can best utilize (and work
around) them
- and an ability to effectively communicate to those who have to make
your design work

I don't think you have to know code (and materials, for those of us
working with physical devices) to do either of those things...but it
helps.

Dan

Comments

4 Feb 2007 - 11:28pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

Well said, Dan.

> - an ability to understand the constraints and possibilities of the
> medium you are working in, so that you can best utilize (and work
> around) them
> - and an ability to effectively communicate to those who have to make
> your design work

Having legitmate coding experience is most useful, I think, during
those conversations where you're trying to talk developers into doing
something and they're debating the feasibility of the solution. It's
really helpful to be able to jump in and speak their languag(s). Earns
you a lot of respect, too.

-r-

4 Feb 2007 - 11:45pm
Chris Ryan
2004

A related anecdotal observation: it seems to me that the number of
programmers who have good to excellent interaction design skills has
been increasing in recent years. At the same time, the number of
people who call themselves interaction designers and don't really
have the skills or qualifications seems also to have been increasing.
So there may be an imbalance, real or perceived, between highly
skilled "renaissance people" who can (and do) do it all, and do it
well; and those who seem just to be "getting in the way" by fussing
over "wireframes" that actually represent poor user interface design.
Here are a couple of different opinions generally on this topic (the
second one is mine):

http://www.alistapart.com/articles/curse/
http://www.redrooffs.com/2006/12/03/user-interface-clerks/

Chris

5 Feb 2007 - 11:37am
Cian
2007

I don't necessarily know what defines the best interaction designers,
but I know that I wouldn't hire the guy who wrote the first article:
"First of all, let's take the individual approach. Every designer I
know is an artist. They paint, they play music, they DJ, they sculpt.
Most got talked into design because someone didn't want them to be
another starving artist...I do know, however, that it is horrible to
try and constrain the artistic imagination of a designer."

Cian

On 2/5/07, Chris Ryan <interactiondesign at redrooffs.com> wrote:
> A related anecdotal observation: it seems to me that the number of
> programmers who have good to excellent interaction design skills has
> been increasing in recent years. At the same time, the number of
> people who call themselves interaction designers and don't really
> have the skills or qualifications seems also to have been increasing.
> So there may be an imbalance, real or perceived, between highly
> skilled "renaissance people" who can (and do) do it all, and do it
> well; and those who seem just to be "getting in the way" by fussing
> over "wireframes" that actually represent poor user interface design.
> Here are a couple of different opinions generally on this topic (the
> second one is mine):
>
> http://www.alistapart.com/articles/curse/
> http://www.redrooffs.com/2006/12/03/user-interface-clerks/
>
>
> Chris
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5 Feb 2007 - 1:51pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

He also basically condemns the work of IxDs and usability specialists in
favor of letting graphic designers handle everything, because the IA will
already have been decided by the back-end server geeks. I'm really surprised
ALA condones that article.

But it does make you wonder if IxDs and usability experts in general aren't
willing enough to let innovation into designs.

Personally, I'm all about challenging standards to find a better way, but I
*never* introduce something new without also providing instructive elements
to get users going. Sounds like this author thinks the only way to appease
the usability geeks is to stick with standards and avoid anything new.

Do people on our side of the profession need to be more open-minded?

-r-

On 2/5/07, Cian <cian.oconnor at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> I don't necessarily know what defines the best interaction designers,
> but I know that I wouldn't hire the guy who wrote the first article:
> "First of all, let's take the individual approach. Every designer I
> know is an artist. They paint, they play music, they DJ, they sculpt.
> Most got talked into design because someone didn't want them to be
> another starving artist...I do know, however, that it is horrible to
> try and constrain the artistic imagination of a designer."
>
> Cian

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