Help: Looking for another me

1 Sep 2004 - 4:54pm
9 years ago
61 replies
613 reads
Michael Bartlett
2004

At the risk of stroking my own ego (astrology gives us August-born a good
excuse!), I'm looking to employ a version of me - who's probably a bit
better at finished art/design work than I am and could haved a bit less
experience or strategic influence.

This email is not a job posting, but rather a call for some advice on what
exactly I'm looking for - both title-wise and how to find one.

Allow me first to explain the domain in which we work. We write what was
called thick-client software. Today this may be called Rich or Smart
Clients, but think you understand my drift. Our software is heavily
integrated with Microsoft Word, Outlook and 3rd party document management
systems such as Interwoven (iManage), Documentum and Microsoft SharePoint.

When I originally joined Workshare, 3 years ago - the UI of our products was
very technically lead. Over the years I have helped move it to be very user
centric (task-orientation & inductive UI principles). We also have a very
elegant (in my opinion!) design ethos behind our screens and dialogs. See
www.hipgeeks.net/stuff/w3ss.jpg as an example.

What I do is work with our Product Managers, sales force and solutions
engineers to help design future versions of our software. I am very
technical (ex programmer) and believe I am fairly competent at designing
easy-to-use software. I do, however, lean heavily on our single graphic
design resource - who actually works in the marketing department and is more
focused on brochures, web campaigns etc... so quite often I don't get enough
time from her.

So the main reasons I am looking for this resource is:

* to not be dependant on marketing's graphic designer. I want every dialog
box, every screen of our software, designed and overseen through the
development department by this person.
* I now manage our team of programme managers, and do a lot of travel to see
key clients and partners and basically need someone else to back me up
during product release cycles while I am away - and also to assist while I
am in the office
* I am sick of being the only person picking up the pen and drawing dialog
boxes and interactions on the white boards. My programme managers are great
at dealing with issues, bugs, managing the time scales of the projects and
so on - they aren't very proactive at the design of our software and I need
someone who is.

This person should have/be:

* Good at Photoshop - especially icon and dialog design within a Windows
framework
* Technically sound - ok so they don't need to be able to code C++, but they
need to understand concepts such as object, technical limitations and
opportunities. Ideally they would have done some C# or ASP.NET or something
like that
* Quite geeky - they've used Windows 3.1, DOS, maybe Linux or a Mac
* User centric. Should understand (and have practised!) persona and
goal-oriented design.
* Young (at heart), dynamic and ambitious

Ok, that was long-winded - I apologise. So back the point of the thread -
what am I looking for? Am I looking for an interaction designer, an analyst,
an architect? I had this identical problem myself when I was looking for
work in the UK when I first arrived here - I had no idea what job titles to
apply for! I believe I'm looking for a Jack-of-all-trades, and I remember at
some point reading an article somewhere on the demands for these types of
people, but you can't really put that out as a job title on Monster.com can
you?!

Any advice (or even recommendations of individuals!) would be highly
appreciated.

Thanks for your time.

Michael

Comments

3 Sep 2004 - 4:25am
Martyn Jones BSc
2004

Interesting. I used to be heavily into my visual arts, before parents and
peers advised me to concentrate on academic subjects if I wanted to go to
University. I did so, and ended up reading Computer Science. Problem I had
when I left university was that I had a craving for the visually creative
stuff. So I headed for New Media and tried to marry the scientific,
analytical world of programming, with the artistic, creative world of visual
design (not that programming isn't a creative process).

My problem is that I want to move on to bigger things, but feel like I have
to make a choice between techy or arty roles. I'm happy to sit in a smaller
company at the moment as I can do / be both.

Can I be a programmer and an IxD?

Martyn

p.s. I chose 'Interaction Designer' as my job title because it sounds better
than programmer!

----------------------
Martyn Jones BSc
Interaction Designer
Kode Digital Ltd.
----------------------

-----Original Message-----
From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.
com] On Behalf Of Michael Bartlett
Sent: 01 September 2004 22:55
To: discuss-interactiondesigners.com at lists.interactiondesigners.com
Subject: [ID Discuss] Help: Looking for another me

[For those using lower bandwidth, or the DIGEST version of this list; the
administrators ask people to voluntarily trim their postings to only include
relevant quoted material.]

At the risk of stroking my own ego (astrology gives us August-born a good
excuse!), I'm looking to employ a version of me - who's probably a bit
better at finished art/design work than I am and could haved a bit less
experience or strategic influence.

This email is not a job posting, but rather a call for some advice on what
exactly I'm looking for - both title-wise and how to find one.

Allow me first to explain the domain in which we work. We write what was
called thick-client software. Today this may be called Rich or Smart
Clients, but think you understand my drift. Our software is heavily
integrated with Microsoft Word, Outlook and 3rd party document management
systems such as Interwoven (iManage), Documentum and Microsoft SharePoint.

When I originally joined Workshare, 3 years ago - the UI of our products was
very technically lead. Over the years I have helped move it to be very user
centric (task-orientation & inductive UI principles). We also have a very
elegant (in my opinion!) design ethos behind our screens and dialogs. See
www.hipgeeks.net/stuff/w3ss.jpg as an example.

What I do is work with our Product Managers, sales force and solutions
engineers to help design future versions of our software. I am very
technical (ex programmer) and believe I am fairly competent at designing
easy-to-use software. I do, however, lean heavily on our single graphic
design resource - who actually works in the marketing department and is more
focused on brochures, web campaigns etc... so quite often I don't get enough
time from her.

So the main reasons I am looking for this resource is:

* to not be dependant on marketing's graphic designer. I want every dialog
box, every screen of our software, designed and overseen through the
development department by this person.
* I now manage our team of programme managers, and do a lot of travel to see
key clients and partners and basically need someone else to back me up
during product release cycles while I am away - and also to assist while I
am in the office
* I am sick of being the only person picking up the pen and drawing dialog
boxes and interactions on the white boards. My programme managers are great
at dealing with issues, bugs, managing the time scales of the projects and
so on - they aren't very proactive at the design of our software and I need
someone who is.

This person should have/be:

* Good at Photoshop - especially icon and dialog design within a Windows
framework
* Technically sound - ok so they don't need to be able to code C++, but they
need to understand concepts such as object, technical limitations and
opportunities. Ideally they would have done some C# or ASP.NET or something
like that
* Quite geeky - they've used Windows 3.1, DOS, maybe Linux or a Mac
* User centric. Should understand (and have practised!) persona and
goal-oriented design.
* Young (at heart), dynamic and ambitious

Ok, that was long-winded - I apologise. So back the point of the thread -
what am I looking for? Am I looking for an interaction designer, an analyst,
an architect? I had this identical problem myself when I was looking for
work in the UK when I first arrived here - I had no idea what job titles to
apply for! I believe I'm looking for a Jack-of-all-trades, and I remember at
some point reading an article somewhere on the demands for these types of
people, but you can't really put that out as a job title on Monster.com can
you?!

Any advice (or even recommendations of individuals!) would be highly
appreciated.

Thanks for your time.

Michael

_______________________________________________
Interaction Design Discussion List
discuss at ixdg.org
--
to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest): http://discuss.ixdg.org/
--
Questions: lists at ixdg.org
--
Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements already)
http://subscribe-announce.ixdg.org/
--
http://ixdg.org/

3 Sep 2004 - 5:54am
Peter Bagnall
2003

On 3 Sep 2004, at 10:25, Martyn Jones BSc wrote:
> Can I be a programmer and an IxD?

Martyn,

I'm in a similar position of trying to balance being a programmer and a
designer (albeit without the visual arts skills!). My own feeling is
this should give you a significant advantage since I've found that many
designers lack a deep understanding of computing - especially in areas
like distributed systems which underpins the web and increasingly
everything else too.

I often find that people without the technical skills will see some
technology which appears to do what they want for their design and jump
on that without understanding the effect that will have on the rest of
the software development process. Just as IxDs try to ensure that the
manifest model seen by the users has a clean logical architecture,
programmers have the same responsibilities lower down. IxDs tend not to
see that as clearly.

I'm a strong advocate of the technical architecture being derived from
the human-centred design, but I also insist on good technical
architecture. By understanding both aspects you can give a client much
more value that either one alone.

An example, which happens to be a particular hobby horse of mine, is
the failure of the web as an application platform. If fails both from a
UI point of view, in that browsers are designed to navigate a static
structure, so when navigating a dynamic one controls like the back
button cause all sorts of grief, and also from a technical point of
view, since they fail to distribute processing load and optimise
network performance.

A holistic solution to this problem must be created by someone with a
deep understanding of both sides of the problem, and that requires
someone with both skill sets. So I'd argue that not only can you be a
programmer and an IxD, but it's extremely valuable to be so.

That's not to say that there aren't problems associated with doing the
whole job yourself - there are. If you're doing both design and
development on the same project then you have to be very disciplined to
ensure that your design isn't damaged just to make the coding easier
(although of course you'll avoid designing things which can't be
built). That's hard. One defence I've found is to have other people
review your work from time to time. It's also hard when switching from
one role to the other. Designers concentrate most on the usual case -
programmers more on edge cases, so it's easy to find you're looking at
the wrong part of the problem - eg worrying unduly about edge cases as
a designer.

As to where you can use both skills, I'm currently doing a PhD in HCI,
and that's the first place I've found I can use all my skills together,
from the human side - looking at who the userbase is (I'm avoiding the
word ethnography, since what designers do is almost never actually
ethnography in the sense that psychologists and anthropologists
understand the term), to the technical side of laying down an
architecture and building the system. Wherever else I've worked I've
found that I've been pigeonholed as either a programmer/architect or as
a designer, and my credibility in the other role has suffered simply
because of the job title.

--Pete

----------------------------------------------------------
They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little
temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
- Benjamin Franklin, 1706 - 1790

Peter Bagnall - http://people.surfaceeffect.com/pete/

3 Sep 2004 - 7:07am
hilhorst
2004

Peter Bagnall wrote:
> designer (albeit without the visual arts skills!).

Contradiction in terms...

There are, of course, different ways to interpret the definition of the
word "design" and what constitutes the profession of design in general
(designer), but in this business I assume and, more importantly,
anticipate that anyone who puts "designer" on their business card is
expected to grasp the basics of applied visual arts skills, at the very
least! (as opposed to exclusively being aqcuinted with design
principles.)

Or as Andrei Herasimchuk appropriately states:

"Should an interface designer be expected to not only provide unique
visual solutions to a project in terms of aesthetic appeal, but also be
able to break down the complex interaction problems or large database
navigational problems? You bet. An interface designer should be able to
draw icons and symbols, layout complex information, determine pleasing
color systems, create the visual language that flows through a product,
create a taxonomy, architect a framework, understand how to optimize a
workflow, know the best way to create graceful error handling, and
organize content so that it can be consumed for its intended purpose."
http://www.designbyfire.com/000012.html

Didier.

3 Sep 2004 - 7:09am
Martyn Jones BSc
2004

Or as Andrei Herasimchuk appropriately states:
> "Should an interface designer be expected to not only provide unique
> visual solutions to a project in terms of aesthetic appeal, but also be
> able to break down the complex interaction problems or large database
> navigational problems? You bet. An interface designer should be able to
> draw icons and symbols, layout complex information, determine pleasing
> color systems, create the visual language that flows through a product,
> create a taxonomy, architect a framework, understand how to optimize a
> workflow, know the best way to create graceful error handling, and
> organize content so that it can be consumed for its intended purpose."
> http://www.designbyfire.com/000012.html

I'd better work on updating my CV!

3 Sep 2004 - 6:32pm
Peter Bagnall
2003

On 3 Sep 2004, at 13:07, Didier Hilhorst wrote:
> Peter Bagnall wrote:
>> designer (albeit without the visual arts skills!).
>
> Contradiction in terms...
>
> There are, of course, different ways to interpret the definition of the
> word "design" and what constitutes the profession of design in general
> (designer), but in this business I assume and, more importantly,
> anticipate that anyone who puts "designer" on their business card is
> expected to grasp the basics of applied visual arts skills, at the very
> least! (as opposed to exclusively being aqcuinted with design
> principles.)

I overstated the case a little, I'm not actually entirely bereft of
visual skills, but I don't quite agree that it's a contradiction. The
word art is the important difference. As an interaction designer I
design interactions after all, that is how a systems reacts to users
and how it presents it's response. Now I agree that there are visual
elements to that, but I'm not sure I'd call it art per se. But the core
of what I do isn't visual, about flow through a system, about making
sure the relationships are consistent, and that the product performs
the appropriate functions for the audience it's aimed at. Because
that's what I do I feel entirely justified in putting interaction
designer on my business card (if I had one, no need at the moment as a
PhD student!).

In the skills Andrei lists I'm light on the graphic design side -
although I'm competent enough to make a system that's easy to use, and
I have a strong understanding of layout and perceptual issues; all it
means is that I work with a graphic designer when I have to. On the
whole I find I have to educate them on perceptual and interaction
issues before they do useful work though, I find a worrying degree of
style over substance, which is not in any way what I think interaction
design should be about.

Unlike interaction designers who've come from visual arts, I'm an
interaction designer that has come from distributed systems
engineering, and I think what I bring to the table, as I indicated in
my previous mail, is of great value, albeit from a different
perspective than the visual arts.

In other words, I don't think the word design is just about visuals,
that's just part of the job, as Andrei indicates. I also don't think
it's realistic to say that all IxDs can be experts in all the facets of
the job, it's natural that IxDs will specialise in different parts of
it, in the same way that architects specialise in structural
architecture, town planning, etc.

In my previous mail what I was suggesting is that IxDs also need the
technical skills, something which I think they lack more often that
they lack the visual side (although I stand to be corrected on that).

Cheers
--Pete

------------------------------------------------------------------------
---
The wit makes fun of other persons; the satirist makes fun of the
world; the humorist makes fun of himself.
James Thurber

Peter Bagnall - http://people.surfaceeffect.com/pete/

3 Sep 2004 - 6:48pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Sep 3, 2004, at 4:32 PM, Peter Bagnall wrote:

> I overstated the case a little, I'm not actually entirely bereft of
> visual skills, but I don't quite agree that it's a contradiction. The
> word art is the important difference. As an interaction designer I
> design interactions after all, that is how a systems reacts to users
> and how it presents it's response. Now I agree that there are visual
> elements to that, but I'm not sure I'd call it art per se.

I don't think Didier would disagree as well over the term "art." I'm
not an artist, I'm a designer. There's large difference, mostly having
to do with artists creating work for themselves while designers create
work for others.

> But the core of what I do isn't visual, about flow through a system,
> about making sure the relationships are consistent, and that the
> product performs the appropriate functions for the audience it's aimed
> at. Because that's what I do I feel entirely justified in putting
> interaction designer on my business card (if I had one, no need at the
> moment as a PhD student!).

That seems fine. But I consider interaction designers a subset of
interface designers. The link Didier presented earlier explains why.
(And David Heller and I have been through this discussion far too many
times that I won't repeat it again.)

> In the skills Andrei lists I'm light on the graphic design side -
> although I'm competent enough to make a system that's easy to use, and
> I have a strong understanding of layout and perceptual issues; all it
> means is that I work with a graphic designer when I have to. On the
> whole I find I have to educate them on perceptual and interaction
> issues before they do useful work though, I find a worrying degree of
> style over substance, which is not in any way what I think interaction
> design should be about.

I find a "worrying degree" of unevenness in design based on the
strength of the lead designer. That is to say, when a lead lacks visual
skills, the visual work tends to be weaker, regardless if a god visual
artist is used on the project. If a visual is the lead, the interaction
tends to weaker. Etc. Good design is all about balance across the main
disciplines however, the main point behind the quote that Didier
snipped.

> Unlike interaction designers who've come from visual arts, I'm an
> interaction designer that has come from distributed systems
> engineering, and I think what I bring to the table, as I indicated in
> my previous mail, is of great value, albeit from a different
> perspective than the visual arts.

Just imagine how much greater value it would be if you visual skills
were stronger!

> In other words, I don't think the word design is just about visuals,
> that's just part of the job, as Andrei indicates. I also don't think
> it's realistic to say that all IxDs can be experts in all the facets
> of the job, it's natural that IxDs will specialise in different parts
> of it, in the same way that architects specialise in structural
> architecture, town planning, etc.

See the running commentary in that article Didier snipped.
http://www.designbyfire.com/000012.html if it interests you. My
opinions are posted there.

> In my previous mail what I was suggesting is that IxDs also need the
> technical skills, something which I think they lack more often that
> they lack the visual side (although I stand to be corrected on that).

I agree with you on that point.

Andrei

3 Sep 2004 - 9:23pm
Peter Bagnall
2003

On 4 Sep 2004, at 00:48, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:
> I don't think Didier would disagree as well over the term "art." I'm
> not an artist, I'm a designer. There's large difference, mostly having
> to do with artists creating work for themselves while designers create
> work for others.

That would suggest that most of the famous portrait masters were
designers since their work was done for others not for themselves on a
commission basis! I'd suggest instead that art is purely aesthetic,
whereas design is functional but often (and should) include an
aesthetic side.

> I find a "worrying degree" of unevenness in design based on the
> strength of the lead designer. That is to say, when a lead lacks
> visual skills, the visual work tends to be weaker, regardless if a god
> visual artist is used on the project. If a visual is the lead, the
> interaction tends to weaker. Etc. Good design is all about balance
> across the main disciplines however, the main point behind the quote
> that Didier snipped.

Good team leaders aren't specialists, they're generalists. They have
sufficient understanding of all the disciplines that are required in
the team to be able to use the other team members effectively. They
also must recognise where they should delegate, and where their skills
are perhaps weaker than other members of the team. I'd suggest that if
the design is uneven due to the lead designers bias it's not a failure
of them being experts in everything, but it's a failure of their
management ability instead.

> Just imagine how much greater value it would be if you visual skills
> were stronger!

Very droll.

>> In other words, I don't think the word design is just about visuals,
>> that's just part of the job, as Andrei indicates. I also don't think
>> it's realistic to say that all IxDs can be experts in all the facets
>> of the job, it's natural that IxDs will specialise in different parts
>> of it, in the same way that architects specialise in structural
>> architecture, town planning, etc.
>
> See the running commentary in that article Didier snipped.
> http://www.designbyfire.com/000012.html if it interests you. My
> opinions are posted there.

In this you cite architects, saying that you expect them to be well
versed in physics, landscaping etc. To a point. But architecture firms
actually work as teams lead by generalists, with specialist architects
who provide the detail expertise, at least this is the case for large
complex projects. To expect any individual to be a great landscaper and
a structural engineer is unrealistic, and isn't how it's done. I think
before we can really say that IxD has grown up we're going to have to
move away from teams centred around a single "great" designer and
accept that the discipline is bigger than any one of us. If we don't
accept that then we'll prevent the discipline from ever growing bigger
than a single human brain.

cheers
--Pete

----------------------------------------------------------
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
- Leonardo de Vinci, 1452 - 1519

Peter Bagnall - http://people.surfaceeffect.com/pete/

4 Sep 2004 - 1:05am
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Sep 3, 2004, at 7:23 PM, Peter Bagnall wrote:

> That would suggest that most of the famous portrait masters were
> designers since their work was done for others not for themselves on a
> commission basis! I'd suggest instead that art is purely aesthetic,
> whereas design is functional but often (and should) include an
> aesthetic side.

I think you could make the case for this example easily. Most great
works of art tend to come from a passion of an artist satisfying some
deep personal need for expression, not some deep need to make that
expression useful for others. In that respect, the great works of art
produced for kings and queens were probably the work of the earliest
forms of designers.

> Good team leaders aren't specialists, they're generalists. They have
> sufficient understanding of all the disciplines that are required in
> the team to be able to use the other team members effectively. They
> also must recognise where they should delegate, and where their skills
> are perhaps weaker than other members of the team. I'd suggest that if
> the design is uneven due to the lead designers bias it's not a failure
> of them being experts in everything, but it's a failure of their
> management ability instead.

I'd agree mostly. It's just in my experience that the bias tends to
come from a lack of skill in one area more often than not. People tend
to bias what the know and are comfortable with. Such as it is, the more
knowledge and skill the lead has across various disciplines, the better
end result.

And by the way, we're not talking rocket science here with interface
design. I'm sorry, but the skillsets in interaction and information
design are NOT that difficult when compared to say, understanding how
to build bridge across a lake or how a to design a car. Visual design
is the most difficult of our skillset at a pure mechanical level
because it requires talent at some level, but even then, practice tends
to make up for a lack of genetic drawing skills. The visual arts are
like music. Learn the scales. Learn the theory. Then practice till your
hands bleed to get better. Interaction and information design require
study, and lots of it. But it's not impossible nor difficult to build
up your skills across visual, information and interaction design. It
takes patience and dedication, sure.

When I look at constructions workers toiling in the hot midday sun
pounding concrete to build highways, I think to myself, THAT's hard
work. When I sit down in front of Illustrator to learn a new drawing
technique, or read up on a new way to collect data on how users behave
with a product, or examine methods for organizing a conceptual model of
a database to express to users, or whatever aspect of interface design
that I am constantly learning about, I remind myself I have it made
when it comes to careers.

>> Just imagine how much greater value it would be if you visual skills
>> were stronger!
> Very droll.

But true. IMHO.

> In this you cite architects, saying that you expect them to be well
> versed in physics, landscaping etc. To a point. But architecture firms
> actually work as teams lead by generalists, with specialist architects
> who provide the detail expertise, at least this is the case for large
> complex projects. To expect any individual to be a great landscaper
> and a structural engineer is unrealistic, and isn't how it's done.

There were many debates regarding the degree of experience of some of
the best architects on other blogs that I won't repeat (I might try and
dig them up). Many people have suggested the great architects are more
than just generalists, but also experts or highly skilled in multiple
aspect of of architecture.

> I think before we can really say that IxD has grown up we're going to
> have to move away from teams centred around a single "great" designer
> and accept that the discipline is bigger than any one of us. If we
> don't accept that then we'll prevent the discipline from ever growing
> bigger than a single human brain.

Some of the best products designed today are not designed by teams. If
they are, they are *very* small teams of no more than three or four
people, where one of them is the clear team leader. Design by committee
or team design always fails at producing great design. It produces
functional design at best, but not great design.

Andrei

4 Sep 2004 - 8:30am
hilhorst
2004

In short:
--
design != art.

Going into more detail:
[note: shamelessly quoted from my own graduate thesis.]
--
"Beauty often pertains to art or nature, perhaps related to some vague
ideal of perfection. However, the environment of human activity has been
overrun by dissatisfying digital products with unhealthy ergonomics,
ugly aesthetics or improper interfaces, suggesting a place for beauty in
interaction design (Norman, 1999). Recent writings confirm that
qualities of experience and expression are key to a satisfying product
and pleased user: Forlizzi and Ford (2000) describe a framework to
achieve user experience goals in interaction design. Pine and Gilmore
(1998) offer a business rationale for meaningful experiences, as the
next major economic offering. The above suggests an arena for beauty
(design) as an emergent quality of user experience, beyond art and
nature.

Putting emphasis on attractiveness, or aesthetic quality, is justified.
It is however not the *only* parameter of importance, but as some have
argued (Nielsen, 1994), it is certainly not an aspect that should be
dismissed (for its difficulty to be objectively measured). Therefore,
subjectivity is by no account a valid reason to alienate aesthetics from
the process. There is little doubt that, in general, the criterion of
aesthetic design is an integral part of effective interaction design
(Alben, 1996).

While some may argue that function dictates form, or that form follows
function (Sullivan, 1896) it is preferable to suggest that the aesthetic
quality of an object or subject (form) is intrinsically locked with how
functional and usable it is (function.) Form is much more than surface
level look and feel - it is also the experience, the presentation, the
satisfaction in usage, the overall pleasure it brings to the mind.

Despite the parts, there is a single quality that unifies the
variations-emotion. Norman (2003) promotes the role emotion plays in
interaction. Human decision making is dependent on both conscious
cognition and affect (conscious or subconscious emotion). Human reaction
to design exists on three levels: visceral (appearance), behavioral (how
the item performs) and reflective. The reflective dimension is what the
product evokes in the user in terms of self-image or individual
satisfaction.

Additionally, understanding how people actually use computers, interact
with technology and digital environments is essential to good design and
evaluation. Nardi (1995) presented activity theory as a means of
structuring and guiding field studies of human-computer interaction,
from practical design to theoretical development. Activity theory
formulated a theoretical concept to transcend the prevailing
understanding of psychology which was dominated by psychoanalysis and
behaviorism. This new orientation was a model of artifact mediated and
object oriented action (Vygotsky 1978). The object of activity theory is
to understand the unity of consciousness and activity (Nardi, 1995).

HCI is by necessity a field with cross-disciplinary characteristics, in
view of the fact that its fundamental nature is interaction that
includes humans and machines, virtual worlds and computer networks, and
a sundry array of objects and behaviors. Winograd (1997) notes that "in
the midst of this interdisciplinary collision, the beginnings of a new
profession materializes, which might be called interaction design. While
drawing from many of the older disciplines, it has a distinct set of
concerns and methods. It draws on elements of graphic design,
information design, and concepts of human-computer interaction as a
basis for designing interaction with (and habitation within)
computer-based systems. Although computers are at the center of
interaction design, it is not a subfield of computer science."
Additionally Winograd introduced a simple analogy, considering the
division of concerns between a civil engineer and an architect as they
approach the problem of building a house or an office building."

Didier.

4 Sep 2004 - 9:02am
Peter Bagnall
2003

On 4 Sep 2004, at 07:05, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:
> Some of the best products designed today are not designed by teams. If
> they are, they are *very* small teams of no more than three or four
> people, where one of them is the clear team leader. Design by
> committee or team design always fails at producing great design. It
> produces functional design at best, but not great design.

Doesn't that point to precisely the failing I'm talking about when I
say that design management is often week. Other disciplines manage to
work in huge teams and do so effectively. Just because we haven't
worked out how to do it yet is not proof that it cannot be done. I
would argue that once we solve the problem of working in larger teams
our discipline will be capable of taking on much larger problems
successfully. This isn't just a problem that IxD suffers from, it's
also a problem for software engineering, but I think the software world
while behind most other engineering disciplines is probably a bit ahead
of IxD in this regard, at least in terms of a theory, if not practice.

I'd totally agree about the failings of design by committee, but there
are other organisational models you can have. Design by committee to me
just seems like a free for all, which is pretty much unmanaged, and
therein lies the root of the problem.

--Pete

----------------------------------------------------------
I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if
he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more
time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority.
- Elwyn Brooks White, 1899 - 1985

Peter Bagnall - http://people.surfaceeffect.com/pete/

4 Sep 2004 - 9:17am
Dave Malouf
2005

As peter suggests below this is one of the main issues that keeps design
from being at the forefront of larger, more complex problem solving and IMHO
is one of the main reasons why design is not seen as a primary component of
building business, which it should be.

I have pointed people to NextD.org before but this is precisely the type of
questions they feel they have answers for and are attempting to push the
educational and business communities around design towards such an end where
x-functional teams are led by designers of all varieties who are trained
first and primarily as solutioneers based on problem deconstruction and then
given artifact creation skills. FIRST though we need to move away from
artifacts as an end to a means and towards true solution creating based on
better capabilities of problem definition.

-- dave

-----Original Message-----
From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.
com] On Behalf Of Peter Bagnall
Sent: Saturday, September 04, 2004 10:03 AM
To: 'Interaction Discussion'
Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] Help: Looking for another me

Doesn't that point to precisely the failing I'm talking about when I
say that design management is often week. Other disciplines manage to
work in huge teams and do so effectively. Just because we haven't
worked out how to do it yet is not proof that it cannot be done. I
would argue that once we solve the problem of working in larger teams
our discipline will be capable of taking on much larger problems
successfully.

4 Sep 2004 - 7:58pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Sep 4, 2004, at 7:02 AM, Peter Bagnall wrote:

>> Some of the best products designed today are not designed by teams.
>> If they are, they are *very* small teams of no more than three or
>> four people, where one of them is the clear team leader. Design by
>> committee or team design always fails at producing great design. It
>> produces functional design at best, but not great design.
>
> Doesn't that point to precisely the failing I'm talking about when I
> say that design management is often week. Other disciplines manage to
> work in huge teams and do so effectively.

You said previously:

"I think before we can really say that IxD has grown up we're going to
have to move away from teams centred around a single "great" designer
and accept that the discipline is bigger than any one of us."

If there is no strong team lead, design devolves into design by
committee. That has been my experience. So I specifically disagree with
you in that I what I think the field needs now is actually more "single
great designers." That whole "single great designer" concept is
actually more on target, its just that those designers need to be
surrounded with good teams given the size of many projects.

> Just because we haven't worked out how to do it yet is not proof that
> it cannot be done. I would argue that once we solve the problem of
> working in larger teams our discipline will be capable of taking on
> much larger problems successfully.

In my experience, the best large teams are one run by one *very* strong
team lead where everyone is executing towards their vision. Sure,
people contribute in their own ways, but the lead has the vision and
people work towards that. Think of great films and the directors behind
them. Thing of the great architects and the teams behind them.

Andrei

4 Sep 2004 - 8:13pm
Dave Malouf
2005

I like that Andrie ... Directors ...

Are they experts in everything? Can Felini act? Can he do his own
cinematography? Of course not ... He directs those who can.

Directors are the ultimate example of generalists. Most don't even write
their own scripts.

The same for architects. Frank Gehry is not a civil engineer, nor is Burle
Marx, but they are experts in architecture and landscaping respectively.
They are aware of their medium's limitations and work with teams to develop
a whole ... But the lead is far from expert in everything.

To your other point ... Well, why shouldn't we be expert in everything? Is
it that hard to do everything? Code, visual, interaction, information? In
all honest, I think you if you want to be Tourvalis, Paul Rand, Alan Cooper,
Louis Rosenfeld and Edward Tufte all wrapped into one you are being
completely unreasonable, and quite honest setting up design for failure.

It is important for a good design lead to have experience in all the touch
points so that they understand them. That is a lot different than being
expert in them.

A great designer is one who is beyond craft or discipline, not one who is
great in all of them. Their contributions transcend craft and discipline and
regardless of the mediums used informs them all.

Does design start & stop with the individual? Maybe it has, but should it?
Does that work in today's economy? Is there room in our current corporate
structure for superstars? I don't think so. I think it is a danger. We need
to be team players, not stars.

And btw, we also need to have the same level of experience w/ business as we
do with the other disciplines of design.

-- dave

5 Sep 2004 - 3:20am
pabini
2004

I've seen great design done by visionary individuals, small collaborative
teams, and large teams with good leadership and a strong vision. I agree
with Andrei that effective leadership is the key to successful design by
large teams. One person needs to set and steer the team toward a coherent
vision. Otherwise, things do devolve into design by committee, which is
generally disastrous. However, I've seen collaborative design done
successfully by very small teams that had great synergy and unity. The main
problem of design by committee is compromises--often made for the wrong
reasons. A collaborative team needs to agree on what are the best design
decisions for a project. That means decisions can't be based on who has more
power or a stronger ego. I think one of the key functions of a strong leader
is to recognize the best ideas that members of a team offer and ensure that
they become part of the vision. It is important for one person to be
responsible for the integrity of the vision though.

Pabini

Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> If there is no strong team lead, design devolves into design by
> committee. That has been my experience. ... In my experience, the best
large teams are one run by one
> *very* strong team lead where everyone is executing towards their vision.
Sure,
> people contribute in their own ways, but the lead has the vision and
> people work towards that. Think of great films and the directors behind
> them.

5 Sep 2004 - 4:35am
pabini
2004

Peter Bagnall wrote:
> > Good team leaders aren't specialists, they're generalists. They have
> > sufficient understanding of all the disciplines that are required in
> > the team to be able to use the other team members effectively. They
> > also must recognise where they should delegate, and where their skills
> > are perhaps weaker than other members of the team. I'd suggest that if
> > the design is uneven due to the lead designers bias it's not a failure
> > of them being experts in everything, but it's a failure of their
> > management ability instead.

Andrei Hersimchuk wrote:
> I'd agree mostly. It's just in my experience that the bias tends to
> come from a lack of skill in one area more often than not. People tend
> to bias what the know and are comfortable with. Such as it is, the more
> knowledge and skill the lead has across various disciplines, the better
> end result.

I agree with both of you for the most part, but a good team leader needs to
have in-depth knowledge and proficiency in all of the relevant design skills
to forge a strong product vision. Without that proficiency, a team leader
can't judge who on a team is offering the best design solutions.

Andrei also wrote: Visual design
> is the most difficult of our skillset at a pure mechanical level
> because it requires talent at some level, but even then, practice tends
> to make up for a lack of genetic drawing skills. ... Interaction and
information design require
> study, and lots of it. But it's not impossible nor difficult to build
> up your skills across visual, information and interaction design. It
> takes patience and dedication, sure.

All aspects of design take special talents. It's relatively rare to find all
of them equally balanced in one individual, though the best user experience
designers/architects embody all of them. Visual design should be easier than
it is. Many of the tools that we must use to execute our designs--Photoshop
and Illustrator, for example--are ridiculously hard to use. They lack
consistent, intuitable interaction models. Having practiced visual,
information, and interaction design, I think interaction design is the most
challenging of these disciplines.

Pabini
________________________________________

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

5 Sep 2004 - 5:07am
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Sep 5, 2004, at 2:35 AM, Pabini Gabriel-Petit wrote:

> Many of the tools that we must use to execute our designs--Photoshop
> and Illustrator, for example--are ridiculously hard to use.

Some people find a guitar ridiculously hard to play, but like most
instruments, it takes practice and getting familiar with the
instrument. Photoshop and Illustrator are very much like that as far as
I'm concerned. Is a guitar intuitive? Not by my standard, but there's
very specific logic to its design. Same with both Photoshop and
Illustrator. Learning the ins and outs of Photoshop takes about a week
or two of dedicated instruction. Mastering it takes maybe half a year
or so. Illustrator is probably a little bit more than that. But if you
don't use them everyday, then maybe they might seem hard to use.

> They lack consistent, intuitable interaction models.

Photoshop and Illustrator are both very consistent in their respective
approaches. As for "intuitive interaction models," given that "pixels"
and "vectors" -- the very things those programs are built on -- are
both mathematical constructions that had no real-world human equivalent
before they came into existence in computer science, I'm not exactly
sure how one would create an intuitive "pixel" editor. Most people
don't even know what a pixel is. But if you do know, Photoshop makes a
million times more sense.

Sure, maybe you can create an intuitive "photography" editor to do
nothing but retouch photos, but that tool would not be Photoshop, as
Photoshop is a general tool that accomplishes a number of very powerful
pixel related-tasks. (The name of the program was always a bit of a
misnomer. It really should have been called Pixelshop, but no one would
have bought it back in 1990 with that name, would they?) You also have
to remember the first ten years of both programs existed to build the
foundations of what could be done with code. Now there's a very large
amount of research both in the technology and how people use it. More
and more work is being done to move away from the general "pixel" and
"vector" editing mindset and into models that are more task driven.

That evolution takes time. Given how old those programs are, it's
actually happening at a very rapid pace as far as I'm concerned.

For example, Photoshop's new Shadow/Highlight feature in CS. The
underlying code was a result of years of watching what kinds of
manipulations people do to photos and finding an algorithmic way to
achieve better results for that specific task. Those results can be
achieved with two simple sliders. That kind of work would not have
occurred unless Photoshop had first been a generic pixel editing tool.

> Having practiced visual, information, and interaction design, I think
> interaction design is the most
> challenging of these disciplines.

I find interaction to be the easiest. Significantly easier actually.

Andrei

5 Sep 2004 - 5:13am
hilhorst
2004

> Can I be a programmer and an IxD?

"Can Programmers Do Interaction Design?" by Kim Goodwin (Cooper)
http://www.cooper.com/content/insights/newsletters/2003_08/Can_Programme
rs_Do_Interaction_Design.asp

Didier.

5 Sep 2004 - 7:08am
Peter Bagnall
2003

The way I interpreted the question was "is it possible for someone with
both programming skills and design skills to find a position where they
can exercise both" rather than the question Kim is addressing in her
article, which is more "should a programmer, without IxD skills be left
to implicitly do the design work based largely on engineering
constraints".

Kim's answer to the question she's answering is spot on, but I don't
think it's the question that was originally asked. The problems Kim
talks about are risks for anyone who fulfils both roles, which is
something I alluded to earlier, but so long as your disciplined about
controlling those risks you can still do a good job of it.

--Pete

On 5 Sep 2004, at 11:13, Didier Hilhorst wrote:

> [For those using lower bandwidth, or the DIGEST version of this list;
> the administrators ask people to voluntarily trim their postings to
> only include relevant quoted material.]
>
>> Can I be a programmer and an IxD?
>
> "Can Programmers Do Interaction Design?" by Kim Goodwin (Cooper)
> http://www.cooper.com/content/insights/newsletters/2003_08/
> Can_Programme
> rs_Do_Interaction_Design.asp
>
> Didier.
>
>
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at ixdg.org
> --
> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
> http://discuss.ixdg.org/
> --
> Questions: lists at ixdg.org
> --
> Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements
> already)
> http://subscribe-announce.ixdg.org/
> --
> http://ixdg.org/
>
>
----------------------------------------------------------
How much trouble he avoids who does not look to see
what his neighbour says or does or thinks, but only to
what he does himself, that it may be just and pure.
- Marcus Aurelius, 121 - 180

Peter Bagnall - http://people.surfaceeffect.com/pete/

5 Sep 2004 - 7:08am
Peter Bagnall
2003

The way I interpreted the question was "is it possible for someone with
both programming skills and design skills to find a position where they
can exercise both" rather than the question Kim is addressing in her
article, which is more "should a programmer, without IxD skills be left
to implicitly do the design work based largely on engineering
constraints".

Kim's answer to the question she's answering is spot on, but I don't
think it's the question that was originally asked. The problems Kim
talks about are risks for anyone who fulfils both roles, which is
something I alluded to earlier, but so long as your disciplined about
controlling those risks you can still do a good job of it.

--Pete

On 5 Sep 2004, at 11:13, Didier Hilhorst wrote:

> [For those using lower bandwidth, or the DIGEST version of this list;
> the administrators ask people to voluntarily trim their postings to
> only include relevant quoted material.]
>
>> Can I be a programmer and an IxD?
>
> "Can Programmers Do Interaction Design?" by Kim Goodwin (Cooper)
> http://www.cooper.com/content/insights/newsletters/2003_08/
> Can_Programme
> rs_Do_Interaction_Design.asp
>
> Didier.
>
>
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at ixdg.org
> --
> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
> http://discuss.ixdg.org/
> --
> Questions: lists at ixdg.org
> --
> Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements
> already)
> http://subscribe-announce.ixdg.org/
> --
> http://ixdg.org/
>
>
----------------------------------------------------------
How much trouble he avoids who does not look to see
what his neighbour says or does or thinks, but only to
what he does himself, that it may be just and pure.
- Marcus Aurelius, 121 - 180

Peter Bagnall - http://people.surfaceeffect.com/pete/

3 Sep 2004 - 12:08pm
Jef Raskin
2004

>
>
> My problem is that I want to move on to bigger things, but feel like I
> have
> to make a choice between techy or arty roles. I'm happy to sit in a
> smaller
> company at the moment as I can do / be both.
>
> Can I be a programmer and an IxD?
>
> Martyn
>
>
Of course you can be both. In fact, people can hold many simultaneous
roles. You just have to be good at each of them independently.

As part of being an interface designer, which is my primary occupation,
I make a point of strongly being both in art and in technology. I've
had works at major art museums and published papers on aerodynamics.
I've designed both computer electronics and (of course) interfaces. I
was an opera conductor for a couple of seasons and a professor teaching
math. And I do program.

I've hired lots of switch-hitters over the years, some with equally
wide backgrounds, with excellent results. Our head of technical writing
is also a professional guitarist and music teacher, a professional
illustrator, has a few published books in this and that, is a paid
movie reviewer, and can explain computer software inside and out in
clear language; another person I hired is also a musician but also a
musicologist, an expert machinist, a fine writer, has an EE degree from
Stanford, and so on (aside from being able to do his primary job in the
company). I like such people because they can bring a wide variety of
skills and views to a project. Avoid people and employers who are so
doctrinaire that they pigeonhole you.

5 Sep 2004 - 5:07am
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Sep 5, 2004, at 2:35 AM, Pabini Gabriel-Petit wrote:

> Many of the tools that we must use to execute our designs--Photoshop
> and Illustrator, for example--are ridiculously hard to use.

Some people find a guitar ridiculously hard to play, but like most
instruments, it takes practice and getting familiar with the
instrument. Photoshop and Illustrator are very much like that as far as
I'm concerned. Is a guitar intuitive? Not by my standard, but there's
very specific logic to its design. Same with both Photoshop and
Illustrator. Learning the ins and outs of Photoshop takes about a week
or two of dedicated instruction. Mastering it takes maybe half a year
or so. Illustrator is probably a little bit more than that. But if you
don't use them everyday, then maybe they might seem hard to use.

> They lack consistent, intuitable interaction models.

Photoshop and Illustrator are both very consistent in their respective
approaches. As for "intuitive interaction models," given that "pixels"
and "vectors" -- the very things those programs are built on -- are
both mathematical constructions that had no real-world human equivalent
before they came into existence in computer science, I'm not exactly
sure how one would create an intuitive "pixel" editor. Most people
don't even know what a pixel is. But if you do know, Photoshop makes a
million times more sense.

Sure, maybe you can create an intuitive "photography" editor to do
nothing but retouch photos, but that tool would not be Photoshop, as
Photoshop is a general tool that accomplishes a number of very powerful
pixel related-tasks. (The name of the program was always a bit of a
misnomer. It really should have been called Pixelshop, but no one would
have bought it back in 1990 with that name, would they?) You also have
to remember the first ten years of both programs existed to build the
foundations of what could be done with code. Now there's a very large
amount of research both in the technology and how people use it. More
and more work is being done to move away from the general "pixel" and
"vector" editing mindset and into models that are more task driven.

That evolution takes time. Given how old those programs are, it's
actually happening at a very rapid pace as far as I'm concerned.

For example, Photoshop's new Shadow/Highlight feature in CS. The
underlying code was a result of years of watching what kinds of
manipulations people do to photos and finding an algorithmic way to
achieve better results for that specific task. Those results can be
achieved with two simple sliders. That kind of work would not have
occurred unless Photoshop had first been a generic pixel editing tool.

> Having practiced visual, information, and interaction design, I think
> interaction design is the most
> challenging of these disciplines.

I find interaction to be the easiest. Significantly easier actually.

Andrei

1 Sep 2004 - 5:02pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Michael, titles are incredibly tricky and VERY geographically
contextualized.
In reading what you are saying, I don't see a jack of all trades, but I see
a hybrid Visual/Interaction Designer; sometimes this is simply called a UI
Designer or a User Experience Designer.

I would search british job sources pointing out some of the features you are
looking for and see what titles pop up more often than not.

There are a lot of UK job postings in the ok-cancel.com archives for jobs,
so that might be a good source to look at.

Of course there is Andrei's blog article about this subject where he feels
that what you are describing is just an interface designer and is not a
"jack of all trades" but the trades of the game necessary to do the job
well. If you look at the thread you can see how vehemently I disagreed w/
him. (Hi Andrei!)

http://www.designbyfire.com/000012.html

-- dave

2 Sep 2004 - 2:31am
Ulla Tønner
2004

Hello Michael

I believe it's a bad idea to look for another you. IF you find someone like
yourself, which I think will be hard, you will tend to think, that he/she
will not only have the same profile as yourself - but also solve tasks and
problems in the same way as yourself and with the same result. And that will
most defenate not happen. So be aware of your own expectations of profile,
working style and results in that 'other you'.

Actually I believe that it would be much more benefitial for you and your
company to hire someone who is a bit different from yourself. You could hire
a person with one or two of the same skills as you, and then an additional
skill, which you don't have in your company at the moment, or which you
would like to strengthen in your department. (how about e.g. a person whith
the skills of qualitative research, who can get the end-users' evaluation
and input on your products?).

AND don't forget, that with your broad experience you have a great
opportunity to evaluate/appraise a new employees skills even if he or she is
a lot different from you.

Regards and good luck
Ulla Tonner,
Denmark

-----Original Message-----
From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesign
ers.com]On Behalf Of Michael Bartlett
Sent: 1. september 2004 23:55
To: discuss-interactiondesigners.com at lists.interactiondesigners.com
Subject: [ID Discuss] Help: Looking for another me

[For those using lower bandwidth, or the DIGEST version of this list; the
administrators ask people to voluntarily trim their postings to only include
relevant quoted material.]

At the risk of stroking my own ego (astrology gives us August-born a good
excuse!), I'm looking to employ a version of me - who's probably a bit
better at finished art/design work than I am and could haved a bit less
experience or strategic influence.

This email is not a job posting, but rather a call for some advice on what
exactly I'm looking for - both title-wise and how to find one.

Allow me first to explain the domain in which we work. We write what was
called thick-client software. Today this may be called Rich or Smart
Clients, but think you understand my drift. Our software is heavily
integrated with Microsoft Word, Outlook and 3rd party document management
systems such as Interwoven (iManage), Documentum and Microsoft SharePoint.

When I originally joined Workshare, 3 years ago - the UI of our products was
very technically lead. Over the years I have helped move it to be very user
centric (task-orientation & inductive UI principles). We also have a very
elegant (in my opinion!) design ethos behind our screens and dialogs. See
www.hipgeeks.net/stuff/w3ss.jpg as an example.

What I do is work with our Product Managers, sales force and solutions
engineers to help design future versions of our software. I am very
technical (ex programmer) and believe I am fairly competent at designing
easy-to-use software. I do, however, lean heavily on our single graphic
design resource - who actually works in the marketing department and is more
focused on brochures, web campaigns etc... so quite often I don't get enough
time from her.

So the main reasons I am looking for this resource is:

* to not be dependant on marketing's graphic designer. I want every dialog
box, every screen of our software, designed and overseen through the
development department by this person.
* I now manage our team of programme managers, and do a lot of travel to see
key clients and partners and basically need someone else to back me up
during product release cycles while I am away - and also to assist while I
am in the office
* I am sick of being the only person picking up the pen and drawing dialog
boxes and interactions on the white boards. My programme managers are great
at dealing with issues, bugs, managing the time scales of the projects and
so on - they aren't very proactive at the design of our software and I need
someone who is.

This person should have/be:

* Good at Photoshop - especially icon and dialog design within a Windows
framework
* Technically sound - ok so they don't need to be able to code C++, but they
need to understand concepts such as object, technical limitations and
opportunities. Ideally they would have done some C# or ASP.NET or something
like that
* Quite geeky - they've used Windows 3.1, DOS, maybe Linux or a Mac
* User centric. Should understand (and have practised!) persona and
goal-oriented design.
* Young (at heart), dynamic and ambitious

Ok, that was long-winded - I apologise. So back the point of the thread -
what am I looking for? Am I looking for an interaction designer, an analyst,
an architect? I had this identical problem myself when I was looking for
work in the UK when I first arrived here - I had no idea what job titles to
apply for! I believe I'm looking for a Jack-of-all-trades, and I remember at
some point reading an article somewhere on the demands for these types of
people, but you can't really put that out as a job title on Monster.com can
you?!

Any advice (or even recommendations of individuals!) would be highly
appreciated.

Thanks for your time.

Michael

_______________________________________________
Interaction Design Discussion List
discuss at ixdg.org
--
to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest): http://discuss.ixdg.org/
--
Questions: lists at ixdg.org
--
Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements already)
http://subscribe-announce.ixdg.org/
--
http://ixdg.org/

3 Sep 2004 - 11:39am
Jef Raskin
2004

What Andrei left out was the need for an interface designer to be able
to do quantitative analysis of designs and he doesn't mention the
importance of being able to design good tests and the ability to
evaluate the results of such tests. It is not sufficient to have the
skills he mentions, it is important to also be able to apply objective
measures and apply the relevant empirical work from cognitive
psychology. There is both art and engineering in interface design.

On Sep 3, 2004, at 5:09 AM, Martyn Jones BSc wrote:

> [For those using lower bandwidth, or the DIGEST version of this list;
> the administrators ask people to voluntarily trim their postings to
> only include relevant quoted material.]
>
>
>
> Or as Andrei Herasimchuk appropriately states:
>> "Should an interface designer be expected to not only provide unique
>> visual solutions to a project in terms of aesthetic appeal, but also
>> be
>> able to break down the complex interaction problems or large database
>> navigational problems? You bet. An interface designer should be able
>> to
>> draw icons and symbols, layout complex information, determine pleasing
>> color systems, create the visual language that flows through a
>> product,
>> create a taxonomy, architect a framework, understand how to optimize a
>> workflow, know the best way to create graceful error handling, and
>> organize content so that it can be consumed for its intended purpose."
>> http://www.designbyfire.com/000012.html
>
>
> I'd better work on updating my CV!
>
>
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at ixdg.org
> --
> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
> http://discuss.ixdg.org/
> --
> Questions: lists at ixdg.org
> --
> Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements
> already)
> http://subscribe-announce.ixdg.org/
> --
> http://ixdg.org/
>

3 Sep 2004 - 12:38pm
Jef Raskin
2004

On Sep 3, 2004, at 5:07 AM, Didier Hilhorst wrote:

> [For those using lower bandwidth, or the DIGEST version of this list;
> the administrators ask people to voluntarily trim their postings to
> only include relevant quoted material.]
>
> Peter Bagnall wrote:
>> designer (albeit without the visual arts skills!).
>
> Contradiction in terms..

It is not a contradiction in terms. There are many aspects of interface
design that have nothing to do with visual arts. Sometimes entire
projects need no visual arts skills; Examples from my experience: (1)
redesign the operation of an aircraft navigation system. The physical
setup was fixed, and there were no graphics at all in that system. Yet
it was a challenging problem. (2) design an interface for a phone
system, where the phones were already in manufacture and which had only
a one-line character-only fixed-font display. (3) eliminate sources of
error in a remote-piloted vehicle interface.

4 Sep 2004 - 1:16am
Listera
2004

Andrei Herasimchuk:

> And by the way, we're not talking rocket science here with interface
> design. I'm sorry, but the skillsets in interaction and information
> design are NOT that difficult when compared to say, understanding how
> to build bridge across a lake or how a to design a car.

Think of a time before Photoshop and now think of the incredible amount of
stuff you can accomplish with Photoshop *and* the HCI that makes it all
happen. Same with 3D or video/audio/fx editing software, etc. That may not
be rocket science but it ain't a stroll in the park either. There's a lot of
science, math, human psychology, design sorcery in there.

----
Ziya

When 2+2=4, it's development,
When 2+2>4, it's design.

4 Sep 2004 - 5:25pm
pboersma at ezgov.nl
2004

Peter Bagnall <pete at surfaceeffect.com>'wrote:

> [..] Other disciplines manage to
> work in huge teams and do so effectively. Just because we haven't
> worked out how to do it yet is not proof that it cannot be done.
> [..] I think the software world
> while behind most other engineering disciplines is probably a bit ahead
> of IxD in this regard, at least in terms of a theory, if not practice.

I recommend everyone to read "The Mythical Man-Month" by Frederick P. Brooks,
Jr. about managing complex projects. Brooks draws from experience at IBM and
promotes the idea of a small "surgical team", an idea initially described by
Harlan Mills.

Some quotes from the back of the book:
"[..] projects suffer management problems different from small ones due to the
division of labor; [..] the conceptual integrity of the product if therefore
critical; [..] it is difficult but possible to achieve this unity."

Peter
--
Peter Boersma, Senior Information Architect, EzGov
Rijnsburgstraat 11, 1059AT Amsterdam, The Netherlands
p: +31-20-7133881 | f: +31-20-7133799 | m: +31-6-15072747
mailto:peter.boersma at ezgov.com | http://www.ezgov.com

4 Sep 2004 - 11:44pm
Listera
2004

David Heller:

> Are they experts in everything? Can Felini act?

Haven't seen him act, but Clint Eastwood
(actor/director/producer/composer/Oscar winner), Tim Robbins
(writer/director/actor/Oscar winner) and many others can.

> Can he do his own cinematography?

I don't want to be name dropping but there are many
director/cinematographers of fame as well.

> Directors are the ultimate example of generalists.

That's not entirely factual. Many directors have a strong background in and
focus for a specific area, like cinematography, acting, special effects,
editing, story telling, etc. You can always detect what they are missing/not
focusing on by watching their films.

> The same for architects. Frank Gehry is not a civil engineer,

(Civil engineers generally don't build buildings, they are into
infrastructure) but Santiago Calatrava is a PhD in civil engineering and,
arguably, is a better and better-known architect, to cite one example.

> Does design start & stop with the individual?

How else could it be, unless you want algorithmic/formulaic output?

> Does that work in today's economy?

Why not?

> Is there room in our current corporate structure for superstars?

Is the corporate culture the best incubator of good design? Do we have to
accept mediocrity and design-by-committee as the norm just because the
*current* corporate culture demands it by its colossal inertia?

> We need to be team players, not stars.

Virtually all teams ports also support/encourage the notion of team
captains/leaders. There are many ways to decode the terms "team player" and
"star." You might be accused of elevating design-by-committee to team
playing apathy, while pejoratively dismissing multi-disciplined, strong
leaders as stars. Perhaps you have better definitions?

> And btw, we also need to have the same level of experience w/ business as we
> do with the other disciplines of design.

How can design be separated from business to begin with?

Ziya
Nullius in Verba

5 Sep 2004 - 12:03am
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Sep 4, 2004, at 6:13 PM, David Heller wrote:

> Are [Directors] experts in everything? Can Felini act? Can he do his
> own
> cinematography? Of course not ... He directs those who can.

The good directors are very much multitalented and skilled. And while
certainly not experts in every detail that goes into a movie, they tend
to be very strong across the board, whether it be acting,
cinematography, wardrobe, lighting, music, and writing. Read up on
stories of great directors and I'm sure you'll discover this.

> Directors are the ultimate example of generalists. Most don't even
> write
> their own scripts.

The really good ones actually do. If they don't write the scripts, I
can guarantee you they have a large impact on how it gets rewritten.
(And yes, rewritten. When a director is assigned to a movie, one of the
first things that tends to happen is how they get the script rewritten
to fix the stuff they don't like.)

> The same for architects. Frank Gehry is not a civil engineer, nor is
> Burle
> Marx, but they are experts in architecture and landscaping
> respectively.
> They are aware of their medium's limitations and work with teams to
> develop
> a whole ... But the lead is far from expert in everything.

We've already been down this path Dave. The disagreement is on the term
"expert." We've both already agreed there is a line or level that must
be achieved in multidisciplinary careers. Fine, call it "very skilled"
or call it "well educated" or whatever. But there is a level of
knowledge and skill a person must own to work in multidisciplinary
fields. You have already acknowledged this previously.

> To your other point ... Well, why shouldn't we be expert in
> everything? Is
> it that hard to do everything? Code, visual, interaction, information?

I never said coding is a requirement for this field. I have said it
certainly doesn't hurt, but I've drawn the bare minimum at visual,
interaction and information design. Things like coding, usability
research methods, and quantitative analysis or other scientific
methodology, those certainly don't hurt if you can gain experience. But
I draw the bare minimum that interface designers must have graphic
design skills, interaction design skills and information design skills.

> In all honest, I think you if you want to be Tourvalis, Paul Rand,
> Alan Cooper,
> Louis Rosenfeld and Edward Tufte all wrapped into one you are being
> completely unreasonable, and quite honest setting up design for
> failure.

I'm not sure where I said that. (And with all due respect to Cooper, I
consider myself an equal to him.) But I cannot possible see how I would
set design up for failure by setting the bar for this field to have
this multidisciplinary requirement. You might want to consider that you
are setting the bar too low.

> It is important for a good design lead to have experience in all the
> touch
> points so that they understand them. That is a lot different than being
> expert in them.

Once again, let's drop the term "expert." It just dilutes the larger
issue in the conversation. I'll concede that term if it makes you
happy. But we both know there is a level of knowledge or skill across
the disciplines, and that level cannot be zero.

> A great designer is one who is beyond craft or discipline, not one who
> is
> great in all of them. Their contributions transcend craft and
> discipline and
> regardless of the mediums used informs them all.

I have no idea what your point here is. You might want to clarify.

> Does design start & stop with the individual? Maybe it has, but should
> it?
> Does that work in today's economy? Is there room in our current
> corporate
> structure for superstars?

Some of the best work going on today occur in this manner. Think Ive at
Apple right now.

> I don't think so. I think it is a danger. We need
> to be team players, not stars.

I think you're being naive if you think that if all we had were good
"design teams" we'd all be happier in our jobs. Teams need leaders with
strong vision. Design especially is a field driven by vision. Once
again, the best products are built from a singular vision, not
discussed in round table fashion in meetings all day. The best products
are built by designers that have high levels of skill across the board.

Just like movies. The ones that have lasted, the ones that have had the
greatest impact, were done by directors who were very much skilled in
multiple disciplines.

> And btw, we also need to have the same level of experience w/ business
> as we
> do with the other disciplines of design.

That eases the pain of the politics in business, but I don't think it's
a requirement. Business savvy may be a requirment, sure. That I can
understand. But having an MBA while very beneficial is not part of the
job description.

Andrei

5 Sep 2004 - 1:56pm
Peter Bagnall
2003

On 5 Sep 2004, at 06:03, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:
> I never said coding is a requirement for this field. I have said it
> certainly doesn't hurt, but I've drawn the bare minimum at visual,
> interaction and information design. Things like coding, usability
> research methods, and quantitative analysis or other scientific
> methodology, those certainly don't hurt if you can gain experience.
> But I draw the bare minimum that interface designers must have graphic
> design skills, interaction design skills and information design
> skills.

What about designing things like automated voice response systems? Not
much call for graphic design there. At some point in the not to distant
future I'm going to be designing alternate interfaces for a system I'm
currently building so it can be used by blind users - the current
interface is for sighted users. It's still interaction design, but it's
not visual in any way. So while visual elements play a part in most
projects it's certainly not always the case. I think by concentrating
so much on the visual side of interaction design you're actually
missing some of the discipline, and showing your own bias. That's fine,
so long as you can see your own limitations.

As for coding not being essential, I'd tend to agree, but some
awareness of the technical architectural issues is essential in the
team. Often the best way to get that appreciation is to have some
coding experience. I don't think I've ever met a good software
architect who hasn't coded. Much of it you have to learn from
experience. The reason I think this matters is that only someone who
really understands the architecture of the system can predict what
constraints are being applied to the design. They can also see more
opportunities in the architecture, which might pass the less technical
team members by. Architecture considers such problems as
maintainability, security, reliability, scalability which are typically
not things that designers spend so much time thinking about. But they
are important to the successful completion of a project, and they can
affect the design. If you ignore them at design time a programmer may
have little choice but to do arbitrary damage to your design to get a
working system. That's what your tech-savvy designer is protecting you
from.

--Pete

----------------------------------------------------------
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
- Leonardo de Vinci, 1452 - 1519

Peter Bagnall - http://people.surfaceeffect.com/pete/

5 Sep 2004 - 3:22pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Sep 5, 2004, at 11:56 AM, Peter Bagnall wrote:

> What about designing things like automated voice response systems? Not
> much call for graphic design there.

Most users notoriously despise automated phone systems. And given the
direction o f cell phones, we can expect number only driven interfaces
across the phone line to be as popular with the public as a CLI is with
99% of the computers users on the planet. IOW, phone systems are going
to become visual in the very near future.

> At some point in the not to distant future I'm going to be designing
> alternate interfaces for a system I'm currently building so it can be
> used by blind users - the current interface is for sighted users.

That's a very small speciality in a much larger picture. Besides,
interactions designers who work on these sorts of things just don't
worry about the visual in those few times where it's not needed.

> So while visual elements play a part in most projects it's certainly
> not always the case.

It's the case 99% of the time. Even if it was only 95% of the time,
it's still an overwhelming amount.

> I think by concentrating so much on the visual side of interaction
> design you're actually missing some of the discipline, and showing
> your own bias. That's fine, so long as you can see your own
> limitations.

You assume I concentrate on the visual. That would be a false
assumption. My bias is actually in the interaction side, as of the
three skillsets its my strongest. In the larger picture, I would
consider myself an equal to Cooper, given what I have done in the
field.

> As for coding not being essential, I'd tend to agree, but some
> awareness of the technical architectural issues is essential in the
> team.

Agreed.

> The reason I think this matters is that only someone who really
> understands the architecture of the system can predict what
> constraints are being applied to the design.

I agree here as well.

> Architecture considers such problems as maintainability, security,
> reliability, scalability which are typically not things that designers
> spend so much time thinking about. But they are important to the
> successful completion of a project, and they can affect the design. If
> you ignore them at design time a programmer may have little choice but
> to do arbitrary damage to your design to get a working system. That's
> what your tech-savvy designer is protecting you from.

No argument from me. On this point.

Andrei

5 Sep 2004 - 4:12pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Sep 3, 2004, at 9:39 AM, Jef Raskin wrote:

> What Andrei left out was the need for an interface designer to be able
> to do quantitative analysis of designs and he doesn't mention the
> importance of being able to design good tests and the ability to
> evaluate the results of such tests.

That's because while a valuable skill, I have yet to find that a
requirement to be an interface designer. Whereas with visual,
interaction and information design skills, I do find those to be a
requirement to perform the job.

> It is not sufficient to have the skills he mentions,

Yes it is.

> It is important to also be able to apply objective measures and apply
> the relevant empirical work from cognitive psychology.

In your opinion. I have yet to find interfaces that apply these aspects
to be significantly better or worse than interfaces designed without
application of empirical work from cognitive psychology

> There is both art and engineering in interface design.

Not sure where I said otherwise.

Andrei

5 Sep 2004 - 4:19pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Sep 5, 2004, at 11:56 AM, Peter Bagnall wrote:

> What about designing things like automated voice response systems? Not
> much call for graphic design there.

Most users notoriously despise automated phone systems. And given the
direction o f cell phones, we can expect number only driven interfaces
across the phone line to be as popular with the public as a CLI is with
99% of the computers users on the planet. IOW, phone systems are going
to become visual in the very near future.

> At some point in the not to distant future I'm going to be designing
> alternate interfaces for a system I'm currently building so it can be
> used by blind users - the current interface is for sighted users.

That's a very small speciality in a much larger picture. Besides,
interactions designers who work on these sorts of things just don't
worry about the visual in those few times where it's not needed.

> So while visual elements play a part in most projects it's certainly
> not always the case.

It's the case 99% of the time. Even if it was only 95% of the time,
it's still an overwhelming amount.

> I think by concentrating so much on the visual side of interaction
> design you're actually missing some of the discipline, and showing
> your own bias. That's fine, so long as you can see your own
> limitations.

You assume I concentrate on the visual. That would be a false
assumption. My bias is actually in the interaction side, as of the
three skillsets its my strongest. In the larger picture, I would
consider myself an equal to Cooper, given what I have done in the
field.

> As for coding not being essential, I'd tend to agree, but some
> awareness of the technical architectural issues is essential in the
> team.

Agreed.

> The reason I think this matters is that only someone who really
> understands the architecture of the system can predict what
> constraints are being applied to the design.

I agree here as well.

> Architecture considers such problems as maintainability, security,
> reliability, scalability which are typically not things that designers
> spend so much time thinking about. But they are important to the
> successful completion of a project, and they can affect the design. If
> you ignore them at design time a programmer may have little choice but
> to do arbitrary damage to your design to get a working system. That's
> what your tech-savvy designer is protecting you from.

No argument from me. On this point.

Andrei

5 Sep 2004 - 4:48pm
Jef Raskin
2004

I liked your point about designing for blind users; a perfect case
where being a visual artist is of little use to an interface designer.
Incidentally, THE works fine with blind users. It works with sighted
users. There is some problem with short-sighted users.

Jef

Footnote: testing THE's text portion with blind users was done at the
Palo Alto VA with 30 subjects. About half were computer-naive.

On Sep 5, 2004, at 11:56 AM, Peter Bagnall wrote:
> in the not to distant future I'm going to be designing alternate
> interfaces for a system I'm currently building so it can be used by
> blind users - the current interface is for sighted users.

5 Sep 2004 - 8:29pm
pabini
2004

Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:
> Some people find a guitar ridiculously hard to play, but like most
> instruments, it takes practice and getting familiar with the
> instrument.

***As someone who used to play guitar before getting so completely enmeshed
in the world of software, I know what you say about guitar is true, but the
main thing with guitar is practicing enough so you can play what you hear in
your mind's ear without thinking about how to realize it on the instrument.
I don't think one ever gets completely beyond thought when using Photoshop
or Illustrator, or any other software for that matter.

A.H. > Photoshop and Illustrator are very much like that as far as
> I'm concerned. ... Learning the ins and outs of Photoshop takes about a
week
> or two of dedicated instruction. Mastering it takes maybe half a year
> or so. Illustrator is probably a little bit more than that. But if you
> don't use them everyday, then maybe they might seem hard to use.
> Photoshop and Illustrator are both very consistent in their respective
> approaches.

***In my view, software shouldn't *require* instruction. The basics should
be intuitable. The documentation should generally be sufficient for complex
or infrequent tasks. Though if there are some difficult direct manipulations
as in Illustrator, a bundled video is helpful. At Seybold, I just saw some
software from Auto FX Software that does much of what Photoshop does, and
allowing for software often looking easier to use in demos that it really
is, I'm left with the impression that it's much easier to use than
Photoshop, as was the original Painter. Photoshop is internally inconsistent
and extremely modal--both very bad things in my opinion. For example, none
of the ways of manipulating colors is consistent with others. I use
Photoshop almost daily and have been using it for almost five years, but
still don't find it a pleasant experience. Bit-flipping is very easy to
learn though. Illustrator does seem much more difficult. I don't use it
much. It doesn't match my mental model of how it should work at all.

A.H. > More and more work is being done to move away from the general
"pixel" and
> "vector" editing mindset and into models that are more task driven.
> That evolution takes time. Given how old those programs are, it's
> actually happening at a very rapid pace as far as I'm concerned.

***That's a good thing.

> For example, Photoshop's new Shadow/Highlight feature in CS. The
> underlying code was a result of years of watching what kinds of
> manipulations people do to photos and finding an algorithmic way to
> achieve better results for that specific task. Those results can be
> achieved with two simple sliders. That kind of work would not have
> occurred unless Photoshop had first been a generic pixel editing tool.

***I'm still using Photoshop 7. This sounds very like the software from Auto
FX Software. I'm glad Photoshop is moving in that direction. It is an
essential tool. Bear in mind that I only bother criticizing software tools
that fall into that category.

PGP > > Having practiced visual, information, and interaction design, I
think
> > interaction design is the most challenging of these disciplines.
>
AH > I find interaction to be the easiest. Significantly easier actually.

***I suppose it depends on the complexity of the software one is designing.
If you're just using standard widgets to do standard things, then I would
agree that's relatively easy, but if one is designing new
direct-manipulation interaction models, other new kinds of interactions, or
complex processes with many state changes, I would disagree. If it were
easy, there would be more good or even great software out there. I think
information design and visual design are a walk in the park by comparison.
There are so many rules and guidelines to follow and the disciplines are so
mature that less invention is necessary. Looking back to the early days of
book publishing, at that point, I'm sure there were a lot of challenges, but
not so much today.

5 Sep 2004 - 9:04pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Sep 5, 2004, at 6:29 PM, Pabini Gabriel-Petit wrote:

> I know what you say about guitar is true, but the
> main thing with guitar is practicing enough so you can play what you
> hear in
> your mind's ear without thinking about how to realize it on the
> instrument.
> I don't think one ever gets completely beyond thought when using
> Photoshop
> or Illustrator, or any other software for that matter.

I beg to differ.

> In my view, software shouldn't *require* instruction.

That's just naive, imho. Sorry to be blunt, but this line of thinking
always irks me. It makes absolutely no sense and is far from practical.
Look around you. You had to learn how to drive a car, you have to learn
how to manage money, you have to learn how to combine oils to create
works of art, you have to learn how to cook food if you want to live
out in the wilderness, you have to learn how to deal with guys like me
if I'm your client. You had to learn how to read and write!

Sometimes software requires instruction because it's very powerful and
yes, even complicated. I always equated Photoshop to a 747 airplane.
You ever sit in the cockpit of a airliner? Does any of it make any
sense? Is it intuitive? Hardly. But it works very well for those who
get trained on it. Photoshop is a professional grade tool that does a
vast amount of work for as many different fields it is used in. For
under $1,000, people from a wide variety of unrelated careers can buy a
product that can earn them thousands to millions if they have the drive
or talent.

I'm sorry... but software that allows for that kind of work to become a
reality can require just a wee bit of instruction in my book.

> The documentation should generally be sufficient for complex
> or infrequent tasks.

Well... yes. Of course. But that's an unrelated discussion. Don't get
me started about poor documentation. You'll get no argument from me
about poor docs, but the manuals for Photoshop, while not stellar, are
certainly adequate. If those don't do, there's like 500+ books to teach
it yourself on the market.

> At Seybold, I just saw some
> software from Auto FX Software that does much of what Photoshop does,
> and
> allowing for software often looking easier to use in demos that it
> really
> is, I'm left with the impression that it's much easier to use than
> Photoshop, as was the original Painter.

Painter easier to use? You must be kidding. Painter is many respects
far more complicated than Photoshop by the sheer number of knobs and
controls that you can tweak to produce a vast number of real-world
painterly effects. (Let me be clear, I love Painter. I'm not knocking
it. I don't have a problem with its complexity, but it is a complex
program just like Photoshop is.) As for the other software, I'm sure it
does a few tasks well, but you'll have to quantify "much of what
Photoshop does". There's lots of software that do specific tasks better
than Photoshop. But not one tool that does as many functions as
Photoshop does as well as Photoshop does them.

> Photoshop is internally inconsistent
> and extremely modal--both very bad things in my opinion.

Some of the modal aspects that have crept into PS since version 7 I
agree are a bit of a pain. Hopefully the UI team there will get them
fixed. But as far as being internally inconsistent, you'll have to
provide more examples as Photoshop is very consistent imho.

> For example, none of the ways of manipulating colors is consistent
> with others.

What do mean "manipulating?" Setting color is fairly consistent and
there are only really a few ways to do it. You'll have to be more
specific here.

> It doesn't match my mental model of how it should work at all.

To each his own, I guess. Bezier curves are indeed are hard mental
model to get your head wrapped around, but they are very powerful in
their own right. Kind of like learning how to control a lathe in
woodshop class.

> I suppose it depends on the complexity of the software one is
> designing.

Not in my opinion. Interaction tends to be far easier a task to do
because there are fewer outspoken critics on your work. You draw an
icon, you get an earful from everyone in the company, including the
CEO. You decide how to best manipulate a 3D mesh inside a fully
realized 3D environment using the keyboard, mouse and maybe a stylus,
you have many fewer critics in the design process.

And I just find interaction problems to be much easier to approach the
graphic or visual design. That's just me. I don't make the claim that's
the same for everyone.

> If [interaction design] were easy, there would be more good or even
> great software out there.

I disagreee. I think all we are seeing are few people with the adequate
training or experience in the field. This is changing fast, and as
such, you'll see more quality here just as we saw more quality in
graphic design through the 20th century once the school systems picked
up on how to teach bright young minds.

> I think information design and visual design are a walk in the park by
> comparison.

I thought you said you didn't need to draw? Or didn't draw? Did I not
hear correctly there?

> There are so many rules and guidelines to follow and the disciplines
> are so
> mature that less invention is necessary.

Whoa Nelly! That's a bold statement. So bold in fact I'll let you
reconsider it.

> Looking back to the early days of book publishing, at that point, I'm
> sure there were a lot of challenges, but
> not so much today.

Again.... a bold statement. I think you are way off base here. 8^)

Andrei

6 Sep 2004 - 2:49am
Jef Raskin
2004

Pabini suggested that:

>
>> In my view, software shouldn't *require* instruction.

to which Andrei replied, in part:

>>
> Sometimes software requires instruction because it's very powerful and
> yes, even complicated

I agree that the idea that software should be used without instruction
is not a good criterion. Andrei gives some good reasons having to do
with complexity. I'd like to mention another good reason: if you make
software better, then it has to be different. If it is different, then
there is something new to learn. I discussed this in detail in my
article Intuitive = Familiar (www.asktog.com/papers/raskinintuit.html)
which appeared in the Communications of the ACM. 37:9, September 1994,
pg. 17. which has been mentioned here before. The pertinent section is
this:

"As an interface designer I am often asked to design a "better"
interface to some product. Usually one can be designed such that, in
terms of learning time, eventual speed of operation (productivity),
decreased error rates, and ease of implementation it is superior to
competing or the client’s own products. Even where my proposals are
seen as significant improvements, they are often rejected nonetheless
on the grounds that they are not intuitive. It is a classic "catch 22."
The client wants something that is significantly superior to the
competition. But if superior, it cannot be the same, so it must be
different (typically the greater the improvement, the greater the
difference). Therefore it cannot be intuitive, that is, familiar. What
the client usually wants is an interface with at most marginal
differences that, somehow, makes a major improvement. This can be
achieved only on the rare occasions where the original interface has
some major flaw that is remedied by a minor fix.

The present rating systems of the magazines and the similar thinking of
many users, managers, and marketers about products with significant
human interface components serves to preserve the status quo, even when
it can be shown that a feature that is completely familiar (intuitive)
is deficient. This tendency makes it more difficult for major advances
in human interfaces to achieve commercial realization. When I am able
to present the argument given here that intuitive = familiar, I find
that decision-makers are often more open to new interface ideas.

I suggest that we replace the word "intuitive" with the word "familiar"
(or sometimes "old hat") in informal HCI discourse. HCI professionals
might prefer another phrase:

Intuitive = uses readily transferred, existing skills."

Pabini also ventured:

> There are so many rules and guidelines to follow and the disciplines
> are so
> mature that less invention is necessary.

Andrei said,

> Whoa Nelly! That's a bold statement. So bold in fact I'll let you
> reconsider it.

Again Andrei is quite right, if his tone is a bit peremptory. The
discipline of HCI is barely nascent, much less mature. The present
rules and guidelines are often wrong, and in conflict with what we know
of how our mental processes work. Much invention is necessary to
correct the errors. But even within the current guidelines, a great
deal of creative thought is often needed to create a pleasant
interface, and even more to create a pleasant and efficient one.

6 Sep 2004 - 9:25am
Elizabeth Buie
2004

Andrei Herasimchuk writes:

>And by the way, we're not talking rocket science here with
>interface design.

Unless we are.

I did UI design for NASA projects for a number of years. Some of them
involved orbit determination. Some of those involved determining how the
orbit changed after an orbit maneuver (the firing of a small rocket on the
spacecraft to adjust its orbit).

:-)

Elizabeth

--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This is a PRIVATE message. If you are not the intended recipient, please
delete without copying and kindly advise us by e-mail of the mistake in
delivery. NOTE: Regardless of content, this e-mail shall not operate to
bind CSC to any order or other contract unless pursuant to explicit
written agreement or government initiative expressly permitting the use of
e-mail for such purpose.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

6 Sep 2004 - 9:55am
Elizabeth Buie
2004

Andrei Herasimchuk writes:

>IOW, phone systems are going
>to become visual in the very near future.

Not for the blind, they're not.

We will always need nonvisual interfaces.

Elizabeth
--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This is a PRIVATE message. If you are not the intended recipient, please
delete without copying and kindly advise us by e-mail of the mistake in
delivery. NOTE: Regardless of content, this e-mail shall not operate to
bind CSC to any order or other contract unless pursuant to explicit
written agreement or government initiative expressly permitting the use of
e-mail for such purpose.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

6 Sep 2004 - 10:06am
Elizabeth Buie
2004

Pabini Gabriel-Petit writes:

>In my view, software shouldn't *require* instruction. The basics
>should be intuitable.

Pabini, this may be an admirable objective for consumer software, but it
is not valid for all software. Think of systems where having a trained
person complete a task quickly and correctly *far* outweighs having a
trainee learn it without instruction. You do want them to be able to know
what to do without having to think about it, but in some cases this
requires extensive training. Right now I'm working on a system to support
air traffic control, which is one of those cases.

Elizabeth

--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This is a PRIVATE message. If you are not the intended recipient, please
delete without copying and kindly advise us by e-mail of the mistake in
delivery. NOTE: Regardless of content, this e-mail shall not operate to
bind CSC to any order or other contract unless pursuant to explicit
written agreement or government initiative expressly permitting the use of
e-mail for such purpose.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

6 Sep 2004 - 1:20pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Sep 6, 2004, at 7:25 AM, Elizabeth Buie wrote:

> I did UI design for NASA projects for a number of years. Some of them
> involved orbit determination. Some of those involved determining how
> the
> orbit changed after an orbit maneuver (the firing of a small rocket on
> the
> spacecraft to adjust its orbit).

8^P

Were you forced to take astrophysics before they let you touch the UI?
I always encouraged people to learn as much about the field they are
designing a UI for before they attempt to design the UI. So maybe
interface design does require rocket science.

Andrei

6 Sep 2004 - 1:23pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Sep 6, 2004, at 7:55 AM, Elizabeth Buie wrote:

>> IOW, phone systems are going to become visual in the very near future.
>
> Not for the blind, they're not. We will always need nonvisual
> interfaces.

I don't disagree... but we have to keep in mind scale here. How much of
the population constitutes people who are blind? For the vast majority
of work, there will be heavy visual aspects to it. For those projects
that don't have it, in cases of the blind, the designer focuses on
other aspects that might be more important to the project, like sound
or touch.

But the skills for visual design have to be there for the vast majority
or projects.

Andrei

6 Sep 2004 - 1:58pm
Elizabeth Buie
2004

Andrei Herasimchuk writes:

>Were you forced to take astrophysics before they let you touch the UI?

:-)

All of the technical and management staff on the contract did have to have
a degree in hard science or engineering. (Fortunately, math counts as
hard science. :-)

For a while during that time (about 20 years ago), CSC was (AFAIK) the
largest employer of astronomers outside of NASA. It was easier to teach
software development to scientists than to teach orbital mechanics to
programmers.

>I always encouraged people to learn as much about the field they
>are designing a UI for before they attempt to design the UI.

Yep. Domain knowledge is a Good Thing.

Elizabeth
--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This is a PRIVATE message. If you are not the intended recipient, please
delete without copying and kindly advise us by e-mail of the mistake in
delivery. NOTE: Regardless of content, this e-mail shall not operate to
bind CSC to any order or other contract unless pursuant to explicit
written agreement or government initiative expressly permitting the use of
e-mail for such purpose.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

6 Sep 2004 - 8:03pm
pabini
2004

Pabini wrote:
> > I don't think one ever gets completely beyond thought when using
> > Photoshop
> > or Illustrator, or any other software for that matter.

Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:
> I beg to differ.

***[Pabini] Okay, there are times when one is in flow with one's task and
not thinking about the tool one is using, but that tends to be when one is
engaged in typing or drawing or doing other things one already knows how to
do that use muscle memory. But most tasks one performs in Photoshop and
other software tools require thought about using the tool.

> > In my view, software shouldn't *require* instruction.
>
> That's just naive, imho. Sorry to be blunt, but this line of thinking
> always irks me. It makes absolutely no sense and is far from practical.
> Look around you. You had to learn how to drive a car, you have to learn
> how to manage money, you have to learn how to combine oils to create
> works of art, you have to learn how to cook food if you want to live
> out in the wilderness, you have to learn how to deal with guys like me
> if I'm your client. You had to learn how to read and write!

***[Pabini] Well, you're dialoguing with someone who learned most of those
things you mentioned either from books or by experimenting. Of course, I did
need training to learn to read and write first, but once I'd mastered those
skills, I could learn most other things on my own. The one other exception
would be driving a car. Things that are risky and/or physical like driving a
car, practicing medicine, playing sports, or playing an instrument are best
learned through training. But I've never taken a course to learn how to use
a software package. I'm not saying training isn't beneficial, just that it
shouldn't be a *requirement* for using a software package. Some people have
personalities that feel more comfortable learning how to use software
through training, so their needs should certainly be served. However, the
user interface and the documentation that make up a software package should
be easy enough to use and the documentation should be sufficiently
comprehensive so that one who is so inclined can use the software without
training.

> Sometimes software requires instruction because it's very powerful and
> yes, even complicated. I always equated Photoshop to a 747 airplane.
> You ever sit in the cockpit of a airliner? Does any of it make any
> sense? Is it intuitive? Hardly. But it works very well for those who
> get trained on it. Photoshop is a professional grade tool that does a
> vast amount of work for as many different fields it is used in. For
> under $1,000, people from a wide variety of unrelated careers can buy a
> product that can earn them thousands to millions if they have the drive
> or talent.
>
> I'm sorry... but software that allows for that kind of work to become a
> reality can require just a wee bit of instruction in my book.

***[Pabini] I didn't say using software shouldn't require instruction, just
that the instruction the documentation provides should be adequate.
Unfortunately, this is a place where many software companies are cutting
costs and thereby providing poor quality, inadequate information. I'm sure
that part of their justification for doing so is that documentation is a
cost whereas training is a revenue generator. I just view this practice as
not serving the needs of users adequately. Again, you're drawing a parallel
between a high-risk, very physical activity, piloting a plane, and using
Photoshop. I don't think that's a valid comparison. The two activities are
too dissimilar. Even though software is complex, the designer should still
do everything possible to simplify its use. IMO, Photoshop falls far short
of that goal. I have typically worked on complex software projects myself. I
know that some tasks will require using the documentation to learn them, but
my goal is always to make the software as easy to learn and easy to use as
possible. This means that consistency is essential and modes should be
avoided, unless the fact that a user is in a mode is both clear and
visible--for example, using a tool on a tool palette.

> > The documentation should generally be sufficient for complex
> > or infrequent tasks.
>
> Well... yes. Of course. But that's an unrelated discussion. Don't get
> me started about poor documentation. You'll get no argument from me
> about poor docs, but the manuals for Photoshop, while not stellar, are
> certainly adequate. If those don't do, there's like 500+ books to teach
> it yourself on the market.

***[Pabini] Having started my career in the software industry as a tech
writer, I'm happy to get you going on poor documentation. ;-) Glad you agree
that's a problem. Online help is part of the user experience, so in my view,
hardly unrelated to our discussion. The Photoshop online help isn't very
helpful, and that's all one gets when one buys an upgrade. This practice
communicates to me that companies don't value their long-term customers as
they should.

> Painter easier to use? You must be kidding. Painter is many respects
> far more complicated than Photoshop by the sheer number of knobs and
> controls that you can tweak to produce a vast number of real-world
> painterly effects. (Let me be clear, I love Painter. I'm not knocking
> it. I don't have a problem with its complexity, but it is a complex
> program just like Photoshop is.) As for the other software, I'm sure it
> does a few tasks well, but you'll have to quantify "much of what
> Photoshop does". There's lots of software that do specific tasks better
> than Photoshop. But not one tool that does as many functions as
> Photoshop does as well as Photoshop does them.

***[Pabini] Painter today is modeled more on Photoshop than on the original
Painter software. It started out pretty easy to use and powerful. I don't
even like it any more. I'd never argue that Photoshop isn't incredibly
powerful, nor that its power is in any way undesirable, just that it could
be easier to use. I've been as specific about the Auto FX Software as I care
to take the time to be. If anyone wants to know what the Auto FX Software
does, they can google it. It is powerful though.

> > Photoshop is internally inconsistent
> > and extremely modal--both very bad things in my opinion.
>
> Some of the modal aspects that have crept into PS since version 7 I
> agree are a bit of a pain. Hopefully the UI team there will get them
> fixed. But as far as being internally inconsistent, you'll have to
> provide more examples as Photoshop is very consistent imho.

***[Pabini] I was commenting on Photoshop 7, so I'm sorry to hear that. I
find the modes that relate to graphics formats problematic.

> > For example, none of the ways of manipulating colors is consistent
> > with others.
>
> What do mean "manipulating?" Setting color is fairly consistent and
> there are only really a few ways to do it. You'll have to be more
> specific here.

***[Pabini] I'm talking about the commands on the Image > Adjustments
submenu.

> > It doesn't match my mental model of how it should work at all.
>
> To each his own, I guess. Bezier curves are indeed are hard mental
> model to get your head wrapped around, but they are very powerful in
> their own right. Kind of like learning how to control a lathe in
> woodshop class.

***[Pabini] I don't find Bezier curves to be a difficult mental model at
all, but I do find them hard to manipulate in Illustrator. The manipulation
isn't sufficiently direct to make me happy. I think, as they are designed,
using them probably does require training, even though one is in no danger
of cutting off an arm.

> > I suppose it depends on the complexity of the software one is
> > designing.
>
> Not in my opinion. Interaction tends to be far easier a task to do
> because there are fewer outspoken critics on your work. You draw an
> icon, you get an earful from everyone in the company, including the
> CEO. You decide how to best manipulate a 3D mesh inside a fully
> realized 3D environment using the keyboard, mouse and maybe a stylus,
> you have many fewer critics in the design process.

***[Pabini] I've never thought of judging the difficulty of a design task in
relation to the politics of getting a design accepted. Different task, in my
view. I work really closely with the engineers and software quality
engineers on my development teams. They're usually happy to rigorously
criticize any complex interaction design.

> And I just find interaction problems to be much easier to approach the
> graphic or visual design. That's just me. I don't make the claim that's
> the same for everyone.

***[Pabini] Bear in mind that I'm talking about visual interface
design--icon and widget design and layout--not visual design that approaches
art--for example, logo design. That's harder. And of course, there is the
occasional icon that needs to represent an abstract concept. Creating such
an icon is very hard, too.

> > If [interaction design] were easy, there would be more good or even
> > great software out there.
>
> I disagreee. I think all we are seeing are few people with the adequate
> training or experience in the field. This is changing fast, and as
> such, you'll see more quality here just as we saw more quality in
> graphic design through the 20th century once the school systems picked
> up on how to teach bright young minds.

***[Pabini] A lot of people have been designing software for personal
computers with GUIs since the mid-80s. That's a fair amount of experience.
It's true that good training is becoming more and more available, but it's
always been available. Complex interaction design is less codified than most
visual design and information design problems are today. With the adoption
of new technologies and the creation of new product types, there are always
new interaction models to be invented. That's challenging work, so we won't
always get it right the first time.

> > I think information design and visual design are a walk in the park by
> > comparison.
>
> I thought you said you didn't need to draw? Or didn't draw? Did I not
> hear correctly there?

***[Pabini] Huh? I didn't say anything about that. I've been drawing longer
than I've been writing and my formal training was in visual design.

> > There are so many rules and guidelines to follow and the disciplines
> > are so
> > mature that less invention is necessary.
>
> Whoa Nelly! That's a bold statement. So bold in fact I'll let you
> reconsider it.

***[Pabini] I feel no need to do so.

> > Looking back to the early days of book publishing, at that point, I'm
> > sure there were a lot of challenges, but
> > not so much today.
>
> Again.... a bold statement. I think you are way off base here. 8^)

***[Pabini] I don't think so. Most information design problems have been
solved over many years by the book and magazine publishing industries. Most
hypertext design problems were solved back in the '80s. And most of the
challenging visual interface design problems have been solved by the people
who have designed OS user interfaces, which have now become somewhat
derivative of one another. New, challenging visual interface design problems
do occasionally arise and maybe, at some point, there will be a renaissance
on that front, but right now, we're working in a pretty stable visual world,
using standard widgets for the most part. Of course, when new challenges
arise in any of these spheres of design, the work becomes harder and more
interesting. I just think interaction design consistently offers more new
challenges.

Pabini

6 Sep 2004 - 8:37pm
pabini
2004

Jef Raskin: I agree that the idea that software should be used without
instruction
is not a good criterion. Andrei gives some good reasons having to do
with complexity. I'd like to mention another good reason: if you make
software better, then it has to be different. If it is different, then
there is something new to learn.

***[Pabini] I was speaking of training, not documentation. Sorry if I wasn't
sufficiently clear about that. It would be unrealistic to expect people to
use complex or innovative software without good documentation, but I
consider that documentation to be part of the user experience.

I discussed this in detail in my
article Intuitive = Familiar (www.asktog.com/papers/raskinintuit.html)
which appeared in the Communications of the ACM. 37:9, September 1994,
pg. 17. which has been mentioned here before. The pertinent section is
this:

"As an interface designer I am often asked to design a "better"
interface to some product. Usually one can be designed such that, in
terms of learning time, eventual speed of operation (productivity),
decreased error rates, and ease of implementation it is superior to
competing or the client’s own products. Even where my proposals are
seen as significant improvements, they are often rejected nonetheless
on the grounds that they are not intuitive. It is a classic "catch 22."
The client wants something that is significantly superior to the
competition. But if superior, it cannot be the same, so it must be
different (typically the greater the improvement, the greater the
difference). Therefore it cannot be intuitive, that is, familiar. What
the client usually wants is an interface with at most marginal
differences that, somehow, makes a major improvement. This can be
achieved only on the rare occasions where the original interface has
some major flaw that is remedied by a minor fix.

***[Pabini] I agree with you. Learning new interaction models requires good
documentation. Easy to learn and easy to use are not the same thing. Even if
learning an interaction requires documentation, that doesn't mean it won't
be easy to recall and perform once one knows how to do it.

The present rating systems of the magazines and the similar thinking of
many users, managers, and marketers about products with significant
human interface components serves to preserve the status quo, even when
it can be shown that a feature that is completely familiar (intuitive)
is deficient. This tendency makes it more difficult for major advances
in human interfaces to achieve commercial realization. When I am able
to present the argument given here that intuitive = familiar, I find
that decision-makers are often more open to new interface ideas.

I suggest that we replace the word "intuitive" with the word "familiar"
(or sometimes "old hat") in informal HCI discourse. HCI professionals
might prefer another phrase:

Intuitive = uses readily transferred, existing skills."

***[Pabini] What you say is true. In the interest of good use of the English
language, I use the word "intuitable", but I agree with your definition of
"intuitive". I think using the word "familiar" is a fine idea.

Pabini also ventured:

> There are so many rules and guidelines to follow and the disciplines
> are so
> mature that less invention is necessary.

***[Pabini] This was taken out of context and, therefore, misconstrued. You
must not have read my original statement. I never said that HCI was a mature
discipline. I said this about information design and visual interface
design. Information design and visual design are mature disciplines while
interaction design is not. That was my point.

Again Andrei is quite right, if his tone is a bit peremptory. The
discipline of HCI is barely nascent, much less mature. The present
rules and guidelines are often wrong, and in conflict with what we know
of how our mental processes work. Much invention is necessary to
correct the errors. But even within the current guidelines, a great
deal of creative thought is often needed to create a pleasant
interface, and even more to create a pleasant and efficient one.

***[Pabini] In fact, what you've said here echoes my point, which was that
interaction design is more challenging than information design or visual
interface design, because it requires so much invention. You and I are in
agreement--except about Andrei being right. ;-)

Pabini

6 Sep 2004 - 9:42pm
pabini
2004

Hi Elizabeth

You're right. When I said the following, I wasn't remarking on mission
critical software like medical software, or the air traffic control or NASA
projects you've worked on. I was remarking on visual design tools like
Photoshop. The discussion was about the relative difficulty of doing
interaction design, information design, and visual design. I made that
remark in the context of saying that some visual design tools are more
difficult to use than they should be, adding unnecessarily to the difficulty
of the task of visual design, and was referring to training, not
documentation, which I consider to be an essential part of user experiences.
Mission critical systems require both training and excellent documentation.

>In my view, software shouldn't *require* instruction. The basics
>should be intuitable.

Elizabeth Buie wrote:> Pabini, this may be an admirable objective for
consumer software, but it
> is not valid for all software. Think of systems where having a trained
> person complete a task quickly and correctly *far* outweighs having a
> trainee learn it without instruction. You do want them to be able to know
> what to do without having to think about it, but in some cases this
> requires extensive training. Right now I'm working on a system to support
> air traffic control, which is one of those cases.

I'm starting to think that trimming our messages really sucks! ;-) It's
certainly not helpful if trimmings cause people's remarks to be misconstrued
or difficult to follow, as seems to be happening. Maybe we should mostly
just trim the list management stuff that gets automatically plugged in at
the end of messages. (Just speaking for myself here.)

Pabini

7 Sep 2004 - 3:45am
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Sep 6, 2004, at 6:03 PM, Pabini Gabriel-Petit wrote:

>> I thought you said you didn't need to draw? Or didn't draw? Did I not
>> hear correctly there?
>
> ***[Pabini] Huh? I didn't say anything about that. I've been drawing
> longer
> than I've been writing and my formal training was in visual design.

I got you confused I think with another poster. Obviously, I need to
pay more attention.

> ***[Pabini] I don't think so. Most information design problems have
> been
> solved over many years by the book and magazine publishing industries.

They have? Do you mean at a purely technical level? At the design
level, there's much still going on with book design. Just look at a
hardcover edition of Chip Kidd's The Cheese Monkeys. Absolutely
amazing. His other work is challenging norms in how novels are sold as
well, at least as it pertains to jacket cover design.

> Most hypertext design problems were solved back in the '80s. And most
> of the
> challenging visual interface design problems have been solved by the
> people
> who have designed OS user interfaces, which have now become somewhat
> derivative of one another.

Not really. The reason I say this is because the code and hardware is
just now catching up to allow more fluid and dynamic interface design,
which will finally cause more refinement at the core widget level. (One
can hope.) Apple Quartz is just now starting to show what it can do in
this respect, for example. And given how poorly fonts are still
supported on all computers, I'd say we have a good deal more work
before we claim victory like you have with regard ot OSes.

> New, challenging visual interface design problems
> do occasionally arise and maybe, at some point, there will be a
> renaissance
> on that front, but right now, we're working in a pretty stable visual
> world,
> using standard widgets for the most part.

It wasn't stable in the software environemnts I worked in. Maybe Adobe
was unique, but the standard widgets were always inadequate to do the
things we needed, and to do them across platforms. that hasn't changed
that much. It's gotten better, but it's still a massive design and
development headache on professional level software.

> Of course, when new challenges
> arise in any of these spheres of design, the work becomes harder and
> more
> interesting. I just think interaction design consistently offers more
> new
> challenges.

I don't disagree about the challenges, but I think it's across the
board more than you seem to think.

Andrei

7 Sep 2004 - 5:05am
pabini
2004

> > ***[Pabini] I don't think so. Most information design problems have
> > been solved over many years by the book and magazine publishing
industries.
>
> They have? Do you mean at a purely technical level? At the design
> level, there's much still going on with book design. Just look at a
> hardcover edition of Chip Kidd's The Cheese Monkeys. Absolutely
> amazing. His other work is challenging norms in how novels are sold as
> well, at least as it pertains to jacket cover design.

***[Pabini] Not sure what you mean by "a purely technical level", but maybe
so. Of course, there's always room for creativity. I checked out The Cheese
Monkeys on Amazon. Of course, their Look Inside feature provides a very
limited view of the book, but it's much better than not being able to see
the content at all. On those few pages, I didn't note anything extradinary.
Would you tell me more about what you think makes that book special?

> > Most hypertext design problems were solved back in the '80s. And most of
the
> > challenging visual interface design problems have been solved by the
people
> > who have designed OS user interfaces, which have now become somewhat
> > derivative of one another.
>
> Not really. The reason I say this is because the code and hardware is
> just now catching up to allow more fluid and dynamic interface design,
> which will finally cause more refinement at the core widget level. (One
> can hope.) Apple Quartz is just now starting to show what it can do in
> this respect, for example. And given how poorly fonts are still
> supported on all computers, I'd say we have a good deal more work
> before we claim victory like you have with regard ot OSes.

***[Pabini] Do you understand now that none of my statements were meant to
be broadly applicable? Everything I said was in relation to the difficulty
of information design and visual interface design versus interaction design.
If we're going to talk "fluid and dynamic interface design", that starts
sounding more like it might have something to do with interaction design,
not just visual design. Of course, I'd have to see what you mean. Though
I've never really been able to fully divorce interaction design and visual
interface design from one another anyway. What you describe sounds like it
might be the beginning of that renaissance I said would possibly occur in
the future--at least in the technology. I wasn't claiming victory, but
within the current context of our technology, things have been pretty much
status quo for some time, and that means less problem solving for visual
designers. Most people aren't dealing with cutting edge stuff. Technological
innovations could very well drive a next wave of visual interface design
innovation. I hope it does.

> > New, challenging visual interface design problems
> > do occasionally arise and maybe, at some point, there will be a
renaissance
> > on that front, but right now, we're working in a pretty stable visual
world,
> > using standard widgets for the most part.
>
> It wasn't stable in the software environemnts I worked in. Maybe Adobe
> was unique, but the standard widgets were always inadequate to do the
> things we needed, and to do them across platforms. that hasn't changed
> that much. It's gotten better, but it's still a massive design and
> development headache on professional level software.

***[Pabini] Yes, the OS toolboxes are often inadequate. I had to invent
widgets for WebEx software, too. But designing widgets is at least as much
about interaction design as it is about visual design. Plus, there's a lot
more Web design than software design going on these days, and most designs
stick to using the very limited set of widgets HTML provides. I hope RIAs
will change that. I'm starting to wonder if when you say "visual design" you
mean stuff like visual feedback in response to interactions. I class that as
part of interaction design. However, as I said before, I have difficulty
seeing a clear demarcation between the two types of design. In fact, it
makes me wonder how anyone can do sophisticated interaction design without
at least some visual design skill.

> > Of course, when new challenges
> > arise in any of these spheres of design, the work becomes harder and
more
> > interesting. I just think interaction design consistently offers more
challenges.
>
> I don't disagree about the challenges, but I think it's across the
> board more than you seem to think.

***[Pabini] I suppose all of this is somewhat subjective, but interaction
design is certainly the newest discipline of the three we've been
discussing. Information design and visual design have a long heritage to
draw upon. That was my main point. I'm not saying innovation isn't possible
in those areas, just that more guidelines have already been established.
There's so much still to be learned in interaction design. At least you and
I agree that all three skills are necessary for user experience
designers--though, if I recall correctly, you don't like that title. :-)
Maybe one has to have been around in the late '60s to really appreciate the
term "experience". ;-)

Pabini

7 Sep 2004 - 8:30am
Elizabeth Buie
2004

Pabini writes:

>I'm starting to think that trimming our messages really sucks! ;-)
>It's certainly not helpful if trimmings cause people's remarks to
>be misconstrued or difficult to follow, as seems to be happening.

Pabini, do you think I took your remark out of context and misconstrued
you? What did you write that would have clarified that?

You led off a paragraph with a blanket statement and did not include any
conditions. How else do you expect people to interpret your remarks?

And I don't agree with you about Photoshop, btw. Photoshop is hard to
learn because the concepts of digital image manipulation are complex, not
(IMHERHO) because Photoshop is badly designed. I know people who use it a
lot and who *don't* have to spend a lot of time thinking about how to use
it. They may have to consider which image manipulation technique will
best give them the effect they want, but that's quite a different matter
from thinking about how to effect the interaction.

Elizabeth

P.S. "ER" stands for "even remotely". :-)
--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This is a PRIVATE message. If you are not the intended recipient, please
delete without copying and kindly advise us by e-mail of the mistake in
delivery. NOTE: Regardless of content, this e-mail shall not operate to
bind CSC to any order or other contract unless pursuant to explicit
written agreement or government initiative expressly permitting the use of
e-mail for such purpose.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

7 Sep 2004 - 1:53pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Sep 7, 2004, at 3:05 AM, Pabini Gabriel-Petit wrote:

> ***[Pabini] Not sure what you mean by "a purely technical level", but
> maybe
> so. Of course, there's always room for creativity. I checked out The
> Cheese
> Monkeys on Amazon. ... On those few pages, I didn't note anything
> extradinary.
> Would you tell me more about what you think makes that book special?

You really must find a hard copy version in person. Words do not do the
book design justice.

> Everything I said was in relation to the difficulty
> of information design and visual interface design versus interaction
> design.

Well then I would have to disagree with you at that level. I find them
all equally challenging with equal levels of difficulty to solve design
problems.

> ***[Pabini] Yes, the OS toolboxes are often inadequate. I had to invent
> widgets for WebEx software, too. But designing widgets is at least as
> much
> about interaction design as it is about visual design.

I agree. I'm not sure where I gave the impression they weren't. (I only
aid for myself I found interaction design programs easy to work on, not
that I think that's across the board.)

> However, as I said before, I have difficulty
> seeing a clear demarcation between the two types of design. In fact, it
> makes me wonder how anyone can do sophisticated interaction design
> without
> at least some visual design skill.

I agree with you, so I think we're largely on the same page in this
regard. Also, ask Dave Heller about this topic and see what he says.

> Information design and visual design have a long heritage to
> draw upon.

Information design, visual design and interaction design are probably
equal in terms of "newness" if one considers when they became a formal
art. That is, largely in the 20th century. There are plenty of
information design examples from the past, but so are there examples of
designing how people interact with devices.

> There's so much still to be learned in interaction design.

Yes and no... I find a lot of interaction design solutions for
technology are often found in expressions of things that have been
around for ages. Look to industrial design in particular, and books
like Designing for People by Dreyfuss, for good information in this
regard.

Andrei

Syndicate content Get the feed