Differnce between user interface and interaction design?

24 Jan 2008 - 8:06pm
6 years ago
57 replies
11435 reads
Demers, Scott
2007

Hi, Folks -

Just curious how some of you would differentiate an interaction designer
from a user interface designer? Apologies if it's been discussed to
death before. Looked quickly on the discussion archive and didn't see
anything.

Cheers,

Scott DeMers

Comments

25 Jan 2008 - 12:11am
Jeff Howard
2004

Hi Scott,

One aspect of your question could cause confusion. Are you asking
about the difference between disciplines or between roles? I think
the answers you receive may vary depending on which question people
choose to answer.

Here's how I see the difference:

Interaction designer is to interface designer as art director is to
graphic designer. It's an imperfect analogy but it demonstrates how
the roles are linked. I think of interface design as the form-giving
counterpart to interaction design. I believe that interface design
differs from interaction design primarily in its focus on the
behavior of artifacts rather than the behavior of humans.

Although the two roles can certainly be embodied in a single
individual in the broad strokes you might be able to tell the
difference between an interaction designer and an interface designer
by their tools. Whiteboards and Post-it notes or Omnigraffle and
Flash?

// jeff

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25 Jan 2008 - 9:58am
Charlie Kreitzberg
2008

I think that the idea of having a single profession with specialties
is right on. As a designer I do UI, IxD, IA, Ux and probably a few
other thing.

I can do all this things competently -- that does not make me a
specialist in these areas and when I have a complex problem I will
bring in someone who specializes in one of these areas.

The medical profession has had this model for years. You get an MD
and that qualifies you to basically do anything in medicine (e.g. you
are a physician and surgeon." If you want to specialize in a
particular field you can do so and get as many specialization
credentials as you want (e.g. you can be a psychiatrist and a
neurologist).

By doing this you can present a simple, easily comprehended
profession to the outside world.

It also suggests a curriculum for training new professionals. And in
the future, if we ever move to certification of some sort (don't
panic!) it will provide a model that enables people go gain basic
certification and then go after their "merit badges."

Charlie

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25 Jan 2008 - 6:29am
Anonymous

On 1/25/08, Demers, Scott <scott.demers at cudenver.edu> wrote:

> Just curious how some of you would differentiate an interaction designer
> from a user interface designer? Apologies if it's been discussed to
> death before. Looked quickly on the discussion archive and didn't see
> anything.

If you're talking in terms of selling the concept to people (which I
am having to do right now!) I'm finding that picking out and using
their buzzwords 'against them' is very persuasive.

I'm selling IxD with two main points:

1) They align the products with processes(!) - and then you qualify
this with high-level business strategy(!), all the way down to the
work minutiae of the people on the coal-face (my worklplace is where
clichés come to die). I then use the example of:

2) During work I staple, and remove staples from, things. I keep my
stapler on my desk and my remover in my drawer as I staple far more
often than I unstaple, and I want my desk to be clear.

Obviously I flesh these out slightly and change the emphasis depending
upon my audience, but it seems to work pretty well and seem to I get a
lot of 'this guy knows what he's talking about' looks. Either that or
I'm fooling myself ;)

--
Alex.

25 Jan 2008 - 10:57am
Dave Malouf
2005

Isn't this just delaying the inevitable?
Sure, (Kumbaya!) we are all "D"esigners, great! (I actually think
that most of us aren't designers, btw, but that's a separate
topic).

Ok, so you get your MD (masters of design). So then what? do you go
for boards in Interaction Design? Oh wait!!! don't you need to
define IxD so that you can build a specialty around it? I mean how
will I know I graduated from ixD (thoracic surgery) instead of ui
(cardiology).

Guys! please, you might not like it, but semantics are required to
build, reflect, advance, and advocate for any profession. we need to
be able to communicate value inside and outside and all around the
eco-system. We need to be able to educate, elucidate, explore and
experiment. Sometimes the definitions are "easy"; In our case it is
a challenge b/c we are the bastard children of design.

Now, a possible more important question is whether these
conversations are useful on THIS list. The frustration level is
obvious to many. At one point, we had a list called "working group"
that was for the purpose of defining IxD and IxDA. We knew we wanted
to keep the primary list balanced on tactics and theory, but not
distracted on semantics and logistics of the org.

The logistics part is well taken care of by the relatively new Board
of 7 (soon to be 9). But the definition piece has fallen back on this
list time and again especially over the last 2 years.

To me this speaks of a great need to do either 2 things:
1) Turn the definition page on the web site into a "wiki" page with
commenting capabilities. It will be the living permanent answer to
this question once and for all.
2) We create a list for people like myself who will forever be
obsessed with defining the damn thing!

But i'm afraid these threads on this open list is turning into noise
for too many people.

But then again, since less than 1% of the total subscriber base
actually posts anything, it is almost impossible to know (BTW the
poll request response rate is even lower than that).

-- dave

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25 Jan 2008 - 3:13pm
Adam Connor
2007

If I recall correctly this topic has come up before on IxDA.

I've been working in house for the same company for almost 7 years
now. In that time I've held the following titles.

Web Designer
Interactive Designer
Interaction Designer
User Interface Designer
Online Experience Architect
User Experience Specialist

Through all those titles though, my activities have never really
changed:
I work on Info Architecture, Interactions, UI, etc.

To be honest I stopped caring about my title a few years ago. Perhaps
it would be different if I weren't an in-house, but it seems more
important to me to just deliver the best products I can.

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25 Jan 2008 - 8:34pm
Lukeisha Carr
2007

"Just curious how some of you would differentiate an interaction
designer from a user interface designer? Apologies if it's been
discussed to death before."

I think these kind of questions keep coming up again & again for some
of the following reasons:

1. Companies give many different titles to the same group of duties.
So, which titles does one need to look for in a job search to ensure
that you cover all of your bases?

2. Many people have different backgrounds. So, how does one know if
he/she has the correct experience or training for the any of the
multiple titled positions. i.e. My background is mostly in
"back-end" web development. Even though, I've coded in
HTML/JavaScript, but the "design" parts, like image
croping/creation, colors, etc. was done by someone else. So, does one
with that kind of background need to become proficient in Photoshop,
Illustrator, or Flash to be a good IxDer?

Unfortunately, I'm not sure if these kind of questions will slow
down, until the field is many years old and dedicated training will
define what these positions do. But the challenge will still be how
to keep different companies from making a mis-mash of all the title.

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26 Jan 2008 - 7:45am
Mark Schraad
2006

Dan Safer (by way of Carnegie Mellon I believe) does a nice job of
this in his book, and includes a helpful vin diagram. While it is not
the end all answer to your questions it is an excellent place to start.

Mark

On Jan 25, 2008, at 12:34 PM, lukeisha carr wrote:

> "Just curious how some of you would differentiate an interaction
> designer from a user interface designer? Apologies if it's been
> discussed to death before."
>
> I think these kind of questions keep coming up again & again for some
> of the following reasons:
>
> 1. Companies give many different titles to the same group of duties.
> So, which titles does one need to look for in a job search to ensure
> that you cover all of your bases?
>
> 2. Many people have different backgrounds. So, how does one know if
> he/she has the correct experience or training for the any of the
> multiple titled positions. i.e. My background is mostly in
> "back-end" web development. Even though, I've coded in
> HTML/JavaScript, but the "design" parts, like image
> croping/creation, colors, etc. was done by someone else. So, does one
> with that kind of background need to become proficient in Photoshop,
> Illustrator, or Flash to be a good IxDer?
>
> Unfortunately, I'm not sure if these kind of questions will slow
> down, until the field is many years old and dedicated training will
> define what these positions do. But the challenge will still be how
> to keep different companies from making a mis-mash of all the title.
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=25077
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
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26 Jan 2008 - 8:32am
.pauric
2006

Scott: " I liked Luis' definition:

"UI designer delivers the interface, the IxD plans it" "

I would expand that a little. Interaction Design as I perceive the
role I play considers how the user interacts with the system/product,
not just the interface.

So while I do truly hate semantics I have to agree with Dave that
defining/differentiating what we practice is very necessary.

Therefor, for me;
Interface Designer focuses on the presentation layer.

IxDs are generalists who utilise aspects of the fields of IA,
Industrial & Interface design in a world of increasingly complex
products & services.

I think the fact that most IxDs are/were Interface designers, and the
majority of the work is in the web, really clouds the issue.

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26 Jan 2008 - 1:09pm
Adrian Howard
2005

On 25 Jan 2008, at 17:34, lukeisha carr wrote:

> "Just curious how some of you would differentiate an interaction
> designer from a user interface designer? Apologies if it's been
> discussed to death before."
>
> I think these kind of questions keep coming up again & again for some
> of the following reasons:
[good reasons snipped]
> Unfortunately, I'm not sure if these kind of questions will slow
> down, until the field is many years old and dedicated training will
> define what these positions do. But the challenge will still be how
> to keep different companies from making a mis-mash of all the title.

The thing is I just don't care whether the roles are defined or not :-)

There's a whole bunch of knowledge, skills and practices that need to
be applied to get a successful product from inception to release.

I care a great deal that there are people involved that have all of
the necessary knowledge, skills and practices - and know how to apply
them and work together well.

I care very, very little for picking a subset from the list and
calling it interaction design, or usability, or information
architecture, or accessibility, or software architecture, or domain
design, or ...

Talking about knowledge, skills and practices. How to learn and apply
them well. That helps me a huge amount. Talking about what a
particular subset should be called and where a person with that
subset sits in the org chart doesn't help me at all.

But maybe that's just me...

Cheers,

Adrian (possibly being unnecessarily grumpy :-)

26 Jan 2008 - 1:13pm
Adrian Howard
2005

On 25 Jan 2008, at 12:13, Adam Connor wrote:
[snip]
> To be honest I stopped caring about my title a few years ago. Perhaps
> it would be different if I weren't an in-house, but it seems more
> important to me to just deliver the best products I can.

<AOL> Me too! </AOL>

Adrian

26 Jan 2008 - 10:21pm
Jeff Howard
2004

Jared wrote:
> Isn't this just a Yam/Sweet Potato thing?

That's an apt analogy. If two tangible objects so objectively
distinct (the yam is over two meters long) can be confused and
treated as identical, how much more difficult to recognize and agree
on subjective differences?

One of President Lincoln's favorite riddles was this: How many legs
does a dog have if you call its tail a leg? The answer? Four. Just
because you call the tail a leg doesn't make it so.

// jeff

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27 Jan 2008 - 5:01pm
Lukeisha Carr
2007

Maybe this article from AIGA.org website will shed some light on the
confusion. What I get from the quote/article, is that interaction
design and ui design are both design of the user interface, but one
may contain more of an "art" element, which is the visual design
aspect. The "art" element is one where some interaction designers
may implement in conjunction with functional design, but others may
not. Unfortunately, the titles really do not make a clear distinction
between the two. Therefore, titles do not matter, but what matters
are the tasks that a position asks for, and what an individual is
willing to do. So, that individual must choose the appropriate
position for them, regardless of title.

http://www.aiga.org/content.cfm/art-vs-design

[Start Quote]
"Now it is my understanding that design in the commercial sense is a
very calculated and defined process, it is discussed amongst a group
and implemented taking careful steps to make sure the objectives of
the project are met. A designer is similar to an engineer in that
respect and must not only have an eye for color and style but must
adhere to very intricate functional details that will meet the
objectives of the project. The word 'design' lends itself to a hint
that someone or something has carefully created this "thing" and
much planning and thought has been executed to produce the imagery or
materials used for the project.

On the other hand Art is something completely separate, any good
artist should convey a message or inspire an emotion it doesn't have
to adhere to any specific rules, the artist is creating his own rules.
Art is something that can elicit a single thought or feeling such as
simplicity or strength, love or pain and the composition simply flows
from the hand of the artist. The artist is free to express themselves
in any medium and color scheme, using any number of methods to convey
their message. No artist ever has to explain why they did something a
certain way other than that this is what they felt would best portray
the feeling or emotion or message."
[END Quote]

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28 Jan 2008 - 10:16am
billabel
2006

You know, no one seems to have mentioned that user interface design
typically refers to a graphic designer working on the visual design
of some sort of software-driven product.

And interaction design is concerned with the underlying design (the
system) of how a product works - even why it exists in the first
place. Interaction design requires the understanding of the user's
behavior, the user's mental model, etc... Interaction design is more
like product designer/industrial designer/architect in my mind, while
user interface is more like art direct/graphic designer/visual
designer.

An individual may actually perform both roles under either title, or
a completely different title.

But, the interaction design in my opinion is about how it works and
why, while interface is much more about aesthetics.

It's the interface designer who will make it pretty.

But, it's the interaction designer who understand that a 'pretty'
interface tested beside a 'dull' interface will always work better
in the minds of most people. It's the cognitive psychology element.

Interaction design goes beyond software, it includes pretty much
anything man-made.

Bill

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28 Jan 2008 - 11:41am
mauropin
2007

On Mon, 28 Jan 2008 07:16:07, Bill Abel <billabel at mac.com> wrote:
> You know, no one seems to have mentioned that user interface design
> typically refers to a graphic designer working on the visual design
> of some sort of software-driven product.
>

Bill, we should avoid generalizations...I've worked in a company where
I was responsible for a group of people that we could call interface
designers, (and another group of information architects) but none of
them were concerned about visual design...in fact, there were another
group (they called themselves "brand designers") that were 100%
concerned about visual aspects of the user interface. Basically, we
(information architects and interface designers) designed the user
experience, working closely with the marketing guys, who defined
strategy and other not-so-funny stuff. But to say that user interface
designers typically work with "visual design" is not precisely what
interface design is, IMHO.

> And interaction design is concerned with the underlying design (the
> system) of how a product works - even why it exists in the first
> place. Interaction design requires the understanding of the user's
> behavior, the user's mental model, etc... Interaction design is more
> like product designer/industrial designer/architect in my mind, while
> user interface is more like art direct/graphic designer/visual
> designer.
>
> [...]
>
> But, the interaction design in my opinion is about how it works and
> why, while interface is much more about aesthetics.
>
> It's the interface designer who will make it pretty.
>

I think the best word would not be "aesthetics", but "surface".
Interaction design works more closely to the structure, the
foundations of the experience/software or whatever. Interface
designers work more closely to the surface, to the presentation level.
Not necessarily with the "aesthetics". Those who deal with aesthetics
are really visual designers (sometimes could be the same guy).

6 or 7 years ago George Olsen wrote a nice article ("Names are for
tombstones, baby") about this fuzzy discussion - what is this, what is
that... Although many of us have a different concept about what is
interface design, interaction design, Olsen did a good job on defining
some boundaries.

It was published on Boxes and Arrows, among an article wrote by Adam Greenfield.
http://www.boxesandarrows.com/view/whats_in_a_name_or_what_exactly_do_we_call_ourselves_

What strikes me is that, as we can see by this discussion that took
place on this thread, the article is still valid, even after years!

I would like to stress an important concept here...many of us define
"interface design" or "interaction design" using computer screens as
the output of our work, as interaction would be something limited to
computer screens.

We're entering the helm of ubiquitous and pervasive computing,
nanotechnology. We should broaden our minds and think far beyond
computer screens. ANYTHING could be a "computer", an interaction
device. This gives us another perspective of what experiences we
should be designing.

Interaction design is NOT limited do computer screens, wireframes,
menus...we should set our vision of our profession onto another level.

cheers,
--
prof. mauro pinheiro
universidade federal do espírito santo
centro de artes
depto. de desenho industrial

28 Jan 2008 - 1:17pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jan 28, 2008, at 8:41 AM, mauro pinheiro wrote:

> Interaction design is NOT limited do computer screens, wireframes,
> menus...we should set our vision of our profession onto another level.

With that being the case, the issue as near as I can tell becomes:

What's the group for those people who do and have done "interface"
design up to this point? And what interface design will become in the
very near future, which is the digital component design of products
that will have a software or code component? Interface design being
defined as the need to deign both the interaction and visual
components, either by a single person or team of people.

Is that group the IxDA or is it some other group? Will it ever be the
IxDA or is the desire to define interaction at a technology agnostic
level going to be something that keeps it too general to support
folks who want to design for technology and all that entails?

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

28 Jan 2008 - 1:49pm
dmitryn
2004

IMHO, there are plenty of groups out there for people who want to "design
for technology". They are called developer forums.

"The desire to define interaction at a technology agnostic level" is a
wonderful thing, and is what differentiates the IxDA community from so many
others. I, for one, would like to keep it that way.

Dmitry

On Jan 28, 2008 10:17 AM, Andrei Herasimchuk <andrei at involutionstudios.com>
wrote:

>
> Will it ever be the
> IxDA or is the desire to define interaction at a technology agnostic
> level going to be something that keeps it too general to support
> folks who want to design for technology and all that entails?
>
> --
> Andrei Herasimchuk
>
> Principal, Involution Studios
> innovating the digital world
>
> e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
> c. +1 408 306 6422
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
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28 Jan 2008 - 2:42pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Yes, I would call it the "interactive design" community. But even
then, that might be MORE specific than Andrei was thinking, and that
is my question.

Andrei does interaction design require pixels? I.e. is there always a
need for a screen? Is what the interaction designer/UI designer
working on always embedded inside of said screen?

If code can be manipulated by other means: voice, 3D (snap domes;
other), gestures (not screened), presence determined/spatial (I think
you get my point) then I think there is no disagreement for the vast
majority of those on this list about what IxD is.

The only exception are the small group of people who are doing
services. But I see this as applying interaction design techniques
and methods to non-technological problems. I think that this is
healthy and natural in any design organization.

If we are limiting to just screen-based IxD/UID then we are probably
looking at the opposite orientation of making a SIG for the type of
work you are discussing.

With about 5500 people on this list, and 7000 total subscribers,
maybe we have finally reached the critical mass where we can start
having topic specific communities.

No thinking about this has been done yet (multiple lists vs. one
list), but heck, anything is possible.

-- dave

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29 Jan 2008 - 8:56am
Dave Malouf
2005

HI Adrian (I wish the web version had better "quoting" features.)

see adrian's reply to me above ...
Yes, you can do both. You should do both, but you shouldn't do one w/o the
other. I'm not saying that you are or aren't, but your posts (my limited
insight into who you are) project that you are focusing on one aspect, at
least in a unbalanced way, so I'm probably reacting in a further unbalanced
way.

As for studio. I understand how agile environments have become more
collaborative, but it is still not studio. It's hard to explain, but what is
hard is that even in design studios today b/c of the focus on computers, a
lot of the studio experience of ID is lost. Imagine if you had a big wall
and on that wall was a projection of everyone's code, and everyone can see
it. Imagine a place where people can see your name attributed to your code,
and then if someone sees something they want to comment on, they just walk
up to you and butt their noses right into your space and tell you what they
think. Something like that. ;). There is a frenetic creativity (not
efficiency) that evolves from this environment. I'm not saying it would work
for coding.

As for what can this do?
Ok, here is the example. Cooper's concept on posture. I'm not saying this is
a foundation of IxD, but it is a good axis. Understanding the posture of
application will radically change the forms you use communicate the
interaction paradigms. You might have really similar task (i.e. messaging)
but b/c email has a different posture than instant messaging (even though in
reality they are REALLY the same thing), the forms take on a very different
flow.

This in my mind explains two things:
1. IxD exists outside the form.
2. Understanding foundations can have a profound effect on your day to day.

I'll take it back to studio.
A real foundation of IxD is pacing. Like any narrative, there is pacing. In
a studio setting what a student or practitioner might do is play with
various forms to embody different pacings. They would then hone in on the
right source.

This is very similar to how a graphic designer will do different comps that
change specific axis of color, line, text, white space, etc.

Unless we have the same foundations to sketch against, it is hard for us in
a processed/controlled and explainable manner communicate the differences
between different interaction models. They are just different, and the only
way we can communicate about them is in terms of usability.

-- dave

--
David Malouf
http://synapticburn.com/
http://ixda.org/
http://motorola.com/

29 Jan 2008 - 12:01pm
Jim Leftwich
2004

The phrase "interface design up to this point" and calls to limit
the definition of Interaction Design and the scope of IxDA invites an
examination of the term's history.

The definition of Interaction Design isn't, (and more importantly)
won't *ever* be, limited to just the "digital" domain because it
never was and isn't inherently limited in that manner as a practice
in reality. The term "Interaction Design" itself, which was coined
by Bill Moggeridge and Bill Verplank at IDTwo (one of the three
companies that combined to become IDEO) in the mid-to-late 1980s,
represented the design of interaction across a variety of
technologies and product and system design boundaries. Interaction
Design certainly involves design of any and all patterns of usage.

Interaction Design was a term I was able to easily adopt around 1987,
for something I'd been practicing in the design consulting field
since 1983 on products, software, systems, and combinations thereof.

The first interaction designs I did involved designing and modeling
the interaction of users with physical components in devices and
equipment that had multi-step processes. As more and more equipment
began to include digital components and digital control and
information, that also became part of what was involved in the
interaction design. Fairly recently, an interaction design project
of mine (as a component of designing medical equipment that I also
did the industrial design, physical controls design, and information
architecture for), involved analyzing, modeling, and designing
physical components involved in the device's physical interaction
that were not associate with the product's digital features and
functions. To separate various aspects of the device's interaction
into technological domains (presumably to be handled by separate
designers, or one designers who's very conscious to take off a hat
with one label and put on another hat with another label) is, in my
opinion, somewhat absurd and completely overlimiting to our field as
a whole.

I'm happy to see Victor Papanek's name come up in this thread, as
he was the head of my alma mater, KCAI's School Of Design, and left
an indelible mark of wholistic approach to Design at our department.
There's probably not a day that goes by that I'm not grateful for
having had the great fortune to study a wide scope of Design (from
typography and corporate identity to computers and software to
industrial design and manufacturing technologies) and thus having
been equipped to enter my career without the limiting boundaries and
categories that have preoccupied so many in the field, and kept many
more from pursuing the opportunity to design a greater range of the
interactive aspects of products, systems, and environments.

I realize that many of the members of IxDA are web designers, and
live and breathe entirely within the virtual realm or within the
bounds of software running on devices. This is understandable.

But it's altogether another thing, and a highly regrettable thing at
that, when the specialists begin to demand that the field of
Interaction Design, or IxDA be similarly limited in scope.

Limiting Interaction Design, or IxDA, to just the digital stems from
a myopia of the non-generalists, who make up the wide part of the
field's Bell Curve (due to the huge number involved exclusively in
the web and software). And furthermore, I think this myopic
insistence on categorization, limitation, and specialization has led
to many products and systems being very poorly designed,
interaction-wise. Think the vast majority of mobile phones and
devices and equipment. Specialization and insistence on limited
scope for something as *necessarily* all-encompassing as Interaction
Design is the first step towards a dangerous "dilution of
responsibility" among specialists. At best, this leads to inelegant
bolted-together separate design efforts. At worst it leads to more of
the type of poorly designed products and systems the world is already
plagued by.

I'm not that worried about Interaction Design, or IxDA, being
limited in definition or scope however. There are a number of
generalists that have been around for a long time that will continue
to point out the value of embracing a more encompassing view of
Interaction Design as IxDA moves forward and grows. As for the
specialists and those practicing within specific domains - perhaps
they would benefit by forming specialist sub-groups *within the
larger and inclusive organization*. But it will prove impossible and
impractical to artificially limit the profession that's been being
practiced for decades, nor the organization that's beginning to
represent us all.

Jim

James Leftwich, IDSA
CXO - Chief Experience Officer
SeeqPod, Inc.
Emeryville, California
http://www.seeqpod.com

Orbit Interaction
Palo Alto, California
http://www.orbitnet.com

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=25077

29 Jan 2008 - 12:11pm
Mark Schraad
2006

I agree entirely Jim. I know interaction designers that specialize in brochures.

The definition of this group, as a desciption of self is getting a bit tiresome.

Mark

On Tuesday, January 29, 2008, at 12:02PM, "Jim Leftwich" <jleft at orbitnet.com> wrote:
>The phrase "interface design up to this point" and calls to limit
>the definition of Interaction Design and the scope of IxDA invites an
>examination of the term's history.
>
>The definition of Interaction Design isn't, (and more importantly)
>won't *ever* be, limited to just the "digital" domain because it
>never was and isn't inherently limited in that manner as a practice
>in reality. The term "Interaction Design" itself, which was coined
>by Bill Moggeridge and Bill Verplank at IDTwo (one of the three
>companies that combined to become IDEO) in the mid-to-late 1980s,
>represented the design of interaction across a variety of
>technologies and product and system design boundaries. Interaction
>Design certainly involves design of any and all patterns of usage.
>
>Interaction Design was a term I was able to easily adopt around 1987,
>for something I'd been practicing in the design consulting field
>since 1983 on products, software, systems, and combinations thereof.
>
>The first interaction designs I did involved designing and modeling
>the interaction of users with physical components in devices and
>equipment that had multi-step processes. As more and more equipment
>began to include digital components and digital control and
>information, that also became part of what was involved in the
>interaction design. Fairly recently, an interaction design project
>of mine (as a component of designing medical equipment that I also
>did the industrial design, physical controls design, and information
>architecture for), involved analyzing, modeling, and designing
>physical components involved in the device's physical interaction
>that were not associate with the product's digital features and
>functions. To separate various aspects of the device's interaction
>into technological domains (presumably to be handled by separate
>designers, or one designers who's very conscious to take off a hat
>with one label and put on another hat with another label) is, in my
>opinion, somewhat absurd and completely overlimiting to our field as
>a whole.
>
>I'm happy to see Victor Papanek's name come up in this thread, as
>he was the head of my alma mater, KCAI's School Of Design, and left
>an indelible mark of wholistic approach to Design at our department.
>There's probably not a day that goes by that I'm not grateful for
>having had the great fortune to study a wide scope of Design (from
>typography and corporate identity to computers and software to
>industrial design and manufacturing technologies) and thus having
>been equipped to enter my career without the limiting boundaries and
>categories that have preoccupied so many in the field, and kept many
>more from pursuing the opportunity to design a greater range of the
>interactive aspects of products, systems, and environments.
>
>I realize that many of the members of IxDA are web designers, and
>live and breathe entirely within the virtual realm or within the
>bounds of software running on devices. This is understandable.
>
>But it's altogether another thing, and a highly regrettable thing at
>that, when the specialists begin to demand that the field of
>Interaction Design, or IxDA be similarly limited in scope.
>
>Limiting Interaction Design, or IxDA, to just the digital stems from
>a myopia of the non-generalists, who make up the wide part of the
>field's Bell Curve (due to the huge number involved exclusively in
>the web and software). And furthermore, I think this myopic
>insistence on categorization, limitation, and specialization has led
>to many products and systems being very poorly designed,
>interaction-wise. Think the vast majority of mobile phones and
>devices and equipment. Specialization and insistence on limited
>scope for something as *necessarily* all-encompassing as Interaction
>Design is the first step towards a dangerous "dilution of
>responsibility" among specialists. At best, this leads to inelegant
>bolted-together separate design efforts. At worst it leads to more of
>the type of poorly designed products and systems the world is already
>plagued by.
>
>I'm not that worried about Interaction Design, or IxDA, being
>limited in definition or scope however. There are a number of
>generalists that have been around for a long time that will continue
>to point out the value of embracing a more encompassing view of
>Interaction Design as IxDA moves forward and grows. As for the
>specialists and those practicing within specific domains - perhaps
>they would benefit by forming specialist sub-groups *within the
>larger and inclusive organization*. But it will prove impossible and
>impractical to artificially limit the profession that's been being
>practiced for decades, nor the organization that's beginning to
>represent us all.
>
>Jim
>
>James Leftwich, IDSA
>CXO - Chief Experience Officer
>SeeqPod, Inc.
>Emeryville, California
>http://www.seeqpod.com
>
>Orbit Interaction
>Palo Alto, California
>http://www.orbitnet.com
>
>
>. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
>Posted from the new ixda.org
>http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=25077
>
>
>________________________________________________________________
>*Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
>February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
>Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
>________________________________________________________________
>Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
>List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
>List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>
>

29 Jan 2008 - 12:13pm
SemanticWill
2007

<snark>
Beside turning the page of a brochure - what are some other types of
interactions between a user and a brochure? Taking it out of the envelope?
</snark>

On Jan 29, 2008 12:11 PM, Mark Schraad <mschraad at mac.com> wrote:

> I agree entirely Jim. I know interaction designers that specialize in
> brochures.
>
> The definition of this group, as a desciption of self is getting a bit
> tiresome.
>
> Mark
>
>
> On Tuesday, January 29, 2008, at 12:02PM, "Jim Leftwich" <
> jleft at orbitnet.com> wrote:
> >The phrase "interface design up to this point" and calls to limit
> >the definition of Interaction Design and the scope of IxDA invites an
> >examination of the term's history.
> >
> >The definition of Interaction Design isn't, (and more importantly)
> >won't *ever* be, limited to just the "digital" domain because it
> >never was and isn't inherently limited in that manner as a practice
> >in reality. The term "Interaction Design" itself, which was coined
> >by Bill Moggeridge and Bill Verplank at IDTwo (one of the three
> >companies that combined to become IDEO) in the mid-to-late 1980s,
> >represented the design of interaction across a variety of
> >technologies and product and system design boundaries. Interaction
> >Design certainly involves design of any and all patterns of usage.
> >
> >Interaction Design was a term I was able to easily adopt around 1987,
> >for something I'd been practicing in the design consulting field
> >since 1983 on products, software, systems, and combinations thereof.
> >
> >The first interaction designs I did involved designing and modeling
> >the interaction of users with physical components in devices and
> >equipment that had multi-step processes. As more and more equipment
> >began to include digital components and digital control and
> >information, that also became part of what was involved in the
> >interaction design. Fairly recently, an interaction design project
> >of mine (as a component of designing medical equipment that I also
> >did the industrial design, physical controls design, and information
> >architecture for), involved analyzing, modeling, and designing
> >physical components involved in the device's physical interaction
> >that were not associate with the product's digital features and
> >functions. To separate various aspects of the device's interaction
> >into technological domains (presumably to be handled by separate
> >designers, or one designers who's very conscious to take off a hat
> >with one label and put on another hat with another label) is, in my
> >opinion, somewhat absurd and completely overlimiting to our field as
> >a whole.
> >
> >I'm happy to see Victor Papanek's name come up in this thread, as
> >he was the head of my alma mater, KCAI's School Of Design, and left
> >an indelible mark of wholistic approach to Design at our department.
> >There's probably not a day that goes by that I'm not grateful for
> >having had the great fortune to study a wide scope of Design (from
> >typography and corporate identity to computers and software to
> >industrial design and manufacturing technologies) and thus having
> >been equipped to enter my career without the limiting boundaries and
> >categories that have preoccupied so many in the field, and kept many
> >more from pursuing the opportunity to design a greater range of the
> >interactive aspects of products, systems, and environments.
> >
> >I realize that many of the members of IxDA are web designers, and
> >live and breathe entirely within the virtual realm or within the
> >bounds of software running on devices. This is understandable.
> >
> >But it's altogether another thing, and a highly regrettable thing at
> >that, when the specialists begin to demand that the field of
> >Interaction Design, or IxDA be similarly limited in scope.
> >
> >Limiting Interaction Design, or IxDA, to just the digital stems from
> >a myopia of the non-generalists, who make up the wide part of the
> >field's Bell Curve (due to the huge number involved exclusively in
> >the web and software). And furthermore, I think this myopic
> >insistence on categorization, limitation, and specialization has led
> >to many products and systems being very poorly designed,
> >interaction-wise. Think the vast majority of mobile phones and
> >devices and equipment. Specialization and insistence on limited
> >scope for something as *necessarily* all-encompassing as Interaction
> >Design is the first step towards a dangerous "dilution of
> >responsibility" among specialists. At best, this leads to inelegant
> >bolted-together separate design efforts. At worst it leads to more of
> >the type of poorly designed products and systems the world is already
> >plagued by.
> >
> >I'm not that worried about Interaction Design, or IxDA, being
> >limited in definition or scope however. There are a number of
> >generalists that have been around for a long time that will continue
> >to point out the value of embracing a more encompassing view of
> >Interaction Design as IxDA moves forward and grows. As for the
> >specialists and those practicing within specific domains - perhaps
> >they would benefit by forming specialist sub-groups *within the
> >larger and inclusive organization*. But it will prove impossible and
> >impractical to artificially limit the profession that's been being
> >practiced for decades, nor the organization that's beginning to
> >represent us all.
> >
> >Jim
> >
> >James Leftwich, IDSA
> >CXO - Chief Experience Officer
> >SeeqPod, Inc.
> >Emeryville, California
> >http://www.seeqpod.com
> >
> >Orbit Interaction
> >Palo Alto, California
> >http://www.orbitnet.com
> >
> >
> >. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> >Posted from the new ixda.org
> >http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=25077
> >
> >
> >________________________________________________________________
> >*Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> >February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> >Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
> >
> >________________________________________________________________
> >Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> >To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> >Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> >List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> >List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
> >
> >
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
~ will

"No matter how beautiful,
no matter how cool your interface,
it would be better if there were less of it."
Alan Cooper
-
"Where you innovate, how you innovate,
and what you innovate are design problems"
-------------------------------------------------------
will evans
user experience architect
wkevans4 at gmail.com
-------------------------------------------------------

29 Jan 2008 - 12:22pm
Mark Schraad
2006

Where am I when I get it?
How did I get the brochure - mail, handed, pick it up?
How do I interact with it... flip pages, fold outs, turn it over, etc
What do I you do if interested?
What if I am not?
Who do I contact?
Do I save it?
Is there a part I can send back in the mail?
Should I read the rest on the web site?
Is there enough information?
Maybe too much?
How does it relate tot he trade show booth I am standing in front of?
Ooh, I like this! Where can I see on in person?

You might call this user experience design... or just graphic design, but these are definitely interactions.

On Tuesday, January 29, 2008, at 12:13PM, "W Evans" <wkevans4 at gmail.com> wrote:
><snark>
>Beside turning the page of a brochure - what are some other types of
>interactions between a user and a brochure? Taking it out of the envelope?
></snark>
>
>
>On Jan 29, 2008 12:11 PM, Mark Schraad <mschraad at mac.com> wrote:
>
>> I agree entirely Jim. I know interaction designers that specialize in
>> brochures.
>>
>> The definition of this group, as a desciption of self is getting a bit
>> tiresome.
>>
>> Mark
>>
>>
>> On Tuesday, January 29, 2008, at 12:02PM, "Jim Leftwich" <
>> jleft at orbitnet.com> wrote:
>> >The phrase "interface design up to this point" and calls to limit
>> >the definition of Interaction Design and the scope of IxDA invites an
>> >examination of the term's history.

29 Jan 2008 - 4:15pm
Jeff Howard
2004

Will snarked:
> Beside turning the page of a brochure - what are some
> other types of interactions between a user and a brochure?
> Taking it out of the envelope?

Try not to think of it as interacting with the brochure. That's a
red herring. Instead, think of it as interacting through the brochure
with something else. The brochure mediates an interaction. Here's an
example. No one goes to Expedia to interact with it. They operate the
interface in order to interact with United or Southwest Airlines. Same
thing with MySpace. It's not about interacting with the site. It's
about using the site to interact with your friends.

It's certainly possible to create interactive paper-based artifacts
(choose your own adventure, pop-up books, etc) but for the most part
I don't consider them to be significant examples of interaction
design.

// jeff

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=25077

29 Jan 2008 - 4:41pm
Jeff Howard
2004

Here's an example I do consider significant from Dan Lockton's
Architectures of Control weblog:

Mentor Teaching Machines - 1971
Depending on the answers the reader gives, he or she is routed
through the textbook in a different order, with areas of weakness
addressed in more detail to ensure better understanding before
allowing the reader to progress to the next level.

http://tinyurl.com/yuueze

His entire blog is a treasure trove of analog interaction design
examples. Well worth digging through.

// jeff

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=25077

29 Jan 2008 - 5:29pm
Gloria Petron
2007

Hm. For a static brochure I could see that logic. But paper forms require
thoughtful layout in order for me to "interact (??)" with them. Or is that
where the term "usability" comes in?

29 Jan 2008 - 6:12pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jan 29, 2008, at 9:01 AM, Jim Leftwich wrote:

> I'm not that worried about Interaction Design, or IxDA, being
> limited in definition or scope however. There are a number of
> generalists that have been around for a long time that will continue
> to point out the value of embracing a more encompassing view of
> Interaction Design as IxDA moves forward and grows. As for the
> specialists and those practicing within specific domains - perhaps
> they would benefit by forming specialist sub-groups *within the
> larger and inclusive organization*. But it will prove impossible and
> impractical to artificially limit the profession that's been being
> practiced for decades, nor the organization that's beginning to
> represent us all.

That's all fine and good and makes plenty of sense at a high level.
The major issue I've had is the outward claims by some that
interaction design is "bigger than digital" on the one hand, but then
bypass issues that are claimed to be outside the scope of
"interaction" on the other.

To be fair, I don't think anyone intends that to be the case, but
when people say things like "interaction design is to interface
design like art direction is to graphic design," or that "interface
designers draw while interaction designers don't," well... that's
exclusionary. (And in the art director analogy, a bit on the absurd
side since art director's are notoriously seen by many in the graphic
industry as outsiders who never learned how to draw, so they tell
others what to draw. I'm generalizing obviously, so my apologies to
any art director's in the audience.)

To me, it seems if you want to have a larger and more inclusive
definition of what interaction design is, then the core skillset has
to be broader as well. In this specific case, that broader definition
is going to have to include visual and aesthetic at some fundamental
level. Not to the degree of needing a major in graphic design, but
core fundamentals that are needed that apply to interaction,
especially when interaction has to be defined for technology
products. Most of this core set of skills are probably found in a few
books like Tufte's Envisioning Information, among a few others. It's
not needing an entire Art History degree or getting into the nitty
gritty of making posters with letterpresses, but certainly some level
competency with aesthetic needs to be a core interaction designer skill.

Why is this? I personally think has to do specifically with digital.
I understand at a conceptual level how an interaction designer can
help design an analog telephone or rework a service flow for FedEx.
But when you start making digital products -- desktop client
applications, web sites, web applications, stand alone kiosks, mobile
interfaces, interfaces for the iPhone, etc. -- the aesthetic part is
integral to the success of the interactive part in a way that's not
easily separated, like it might be for non-digital forms of
interaction design. Given that, for the large swath of people that
are going to focus on digital, if they are calling themselves
interaction designers, removing the aesthetic from the definition of
what they do isn't going to help matters. It's fine for teams of
people today to work together on the interaction and aesthetic
collaboratively, but in the future, you really are going to want more
and more people who know how to do both, and are trained in how to do
both, even if they focus on one or the other in a team environment.

Why? For the very same reasons industrial designers are trained in
both form and function.

If a designer is compartmentalized to ignore or not having
accountability on the aesthetic at a personal level, then the
definition of interaction design is narrowed vertically as a job
description, even if it's horizontal as a job that applies to broader
market spaces. This is the crux of the problem, as near as I can tell.

At a high level, having interaction design not be responsible for the
aesthetic or be a core skill of an interaction designer is obviously
fine, and can work for a variety of people. But for the ones that are
looking to work in narrow market sectors, like focusing on digital
products), they need a broader job definition horizontally on what it
is they are held accountable for in the overall design of the
product. To not do so would, it seems that calling oneself an
"interaction designer" does neither the designer in that position nor
the field of interaction any justice. The designer silo's themselves
in a way that limits what the business expects them to work on or can
work on, and profession suffers from confusion on what interaction
designers actually do and are best suited for, since it would be
market dependent in a way that's not accessible to those not in the
know.

Yes. Job titles and semantics matter, for these very reasons.

That's pretty much it. Does interaction require competency with core
fundamentals of graphic design or not? If it doesn't, we're back to
square one on the problem since a definition that excludes an
aesthetic will keep people segmented in a way that as digital
products evolve, will not allow the designer to gain credibility or
accountability for the totality of the design. It would be like an
industrial designer looking for someone else to figure out if the
product should be painted blue or red. Seems odd to me if that were
to be the case, and extremely limiting. And for what it's worth, I'm
of the opinion that if interaction designers insist on not needing
aesthetic skills for digital product design, they will find
themselves phased out of the design process by those that can do more
at a broader. That's just my personal opinion, it's obviously not a
proven fact. We'll have to wait ten years to see if that starts to
emerge.

With interaction design, the desire to go broad with the core
definition but exclusionary on what the skills are actually winds up
limiting the designer's role in a specific market like digital
product design. This limitation is only a problem if you're someone
like me who wants to work primarily on digital products.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

29 Jan 2008 - 7:10pm
Mark Schraad
2006

Nicely framed Andrei. While have been pushing for broad sweeping
inclusive definitions, it was pointed out to me that that approach
greatly limits their usefulness. Perhaps if the majority is included,
and it give a more finite description, we will be better off.

Mark
(trying to be less pedantic ;)

On Jan 29, 2008, at 6:12 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> On Jan 29, 2008, at 9:01 AM, Jim Leftwich wrote:
>
>> I'm not that worried about Interaction Design, or IxDA, being
>> limited in definition or scope however. There are a number of
>> generalists that have been around for a long time that will continue
>> to point out the value of embracing a more encompassing view of
>> Interaction Design as IxDA moves forward and grows. As for the
>> specialists and those practicing within specific domains - perhaps
>> they would benefit by forming specialist sub-groups *within the
>> larger and inclusive organization*. But it will prove impossible and
>> impractical to artificially limit the profession that's been being
>> practiced for decades, nor the organization that's beginning to
>> represent us all.
>
> That's all fine and good and makes plenty of sense at a high level.
> The major issue I've had is the outward claims by some that
> interaction design is "bigger than digital" on the one hand, but then
> bypass issues that are claimed to be outside the scope of
> "interaction" on the other.
>
> To be fair, I don't think anyone intends that to be the case, but
> when people say things like "interaction design is to interface
> design like art direction is to graphic design," or that "interface
> designers draw while interaction designers don't," well... that's
> exclusionary. (And in the art director analogy, a bit on the absurd
> side since art director's are notoriously seen by many in the graphic
> industry as outsiders who never learned how to draw, so they tell
> others what to draw. I'm generalizing obviously, so my apologies to
> any art director's in the audience.)
>
> To me, it seems if you want to have a larger and more inclusive
> definition of what interaction design is, then the core skillset has
> to be broader as well. In this specific case, that broader definition
> is going to have to include visual and aesthetic at some fundamental
> level. Not to the degree of needing a major in graphic design, but
> core fundamentals that are needed that apply to interaction,
> especially when interaction has to be defined for technology
> products. Most of this core set of skills are probably found in a few
> books like Tufte's Envisioning Information, among a few others. It's
> not needing an entire Art History degree or getting into the nitty
> gritty of making posters with letterpresses, but certainly some level
> competency with aesthetic needs to be a core interaction designer
> skill.
>
> Why is this? I personally think has to do specifically with digital.
> I understand at a conceptual level how an interaction designer can
> help design an analog telephone or rework a service flow for FedEx.
> But when you start making digital products -- desktop client
> applications, web sites, web applications, stand alone kiosks, mobile
> interfaces, interfaces for the iPhone, etc. -- the aesthetic part is
> integral to the success of the interactive part in a way that's not
> easily separated, like it might be for non-digital forms of
> interaction design. Given that, for the large swath of people that
> are going to focus on digital, if they are calling themselves
> interaction designers, removing the aesthetic from the definition of
> what they do isn't going to help matters. It's fine for teams of
> people today to work together on the interaction and aesthetic
> collaboratively, but in the future, you really are going to want more
> and more people who know how to do both, and are trained in how to do
> both, even if they focus on one or the other in a team environment.
>
> Why? For the very same reasons industrial designers are trained in
> both form and function.
>
> If a designer is compartmentalized to ignore or not having
> accountability on the aesthetic at a personal level, then the
> definition of interaction design is narrowed vertically as a job
> description, even if it's horizontal as a job that applies to broader
> market spaces. This is the crux of the problem, as near as I can tell.
>
> At a high level, having interaction design not be responsible for the
> aesthetic or be a core skill of an interaction designer is obviously
> fine, and can work for a variety of people. But for the ones that are
> looking to work in narrow market sectors, like focusing on digital
> products), they need a broader job definition horizontally on what it
> is they are held accountable for in the overall design of the
> product. To not do so would, it seems that calling oneself an
> "interaction designer" does neither the designer in that position nor
> the field of interaction any justice. The designer silo's themselves
> in a way that limits what the business expects them to work on or can
> work on, and profession suffers from confusion on what interaction
> designers actually do and are best suited for, since it would be
> market dependent in a way that's not accessible to those not in the
> know.
>
> Yes. Job titles and semantics matter, for these very reasons.
>
> That's pretty much it. Does interaction require competency with core
> fundamentals of graphic design or not? If it doesn't, we're back to
> square one on the problem since a definition that excludes an
> aesthetic will keep people segmented in a way that as digital
> products evolve, will not allow the designer to gain credibility or
> accountability for the totality of the design. It would be like an
> industrial designer looking for someone else to figure out if the
> product should be painted blue or red. Seems odd to me if that were
> to be the case, and extremely limiting. And for what it's worth, I'm
> of the opinion that if interaction designers insist on not needing
> aesthetic skills for digital product design, they will find
> themselves phased out of the design process by those that can do more
> at a broader. That's just my personal opinion, it's obviously not a
> proven fact. We'll have to wait ten years to see if that starts to
> emerge.
>
> With interaction design, the desire to go broad with the core
> definition but exclusionary on what the skills are actually winds up
> limiting the designer's role in a specific market like digital
> product design. This limitation is only a problem if you're someone
> like me who wants to work primarily on digital products.
>
> --
> Andrei Herasimchuk
>
> Principal, Involution Studios
> innovating the digital world
>
> e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
> c. +1 408 306 6422
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

29 Jan 2008 - 7:50pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jan 28, 2008, at 11:42 AM, dave malouf wrote:

> Andrei does interaction design require pixels? I.e. is there always a
> need for a screen? Is what the interaction designer/UI designer
> working on always embedded inside of said screen?

In my market space, yes. In other market spaces, I can see how it
would not. But you are also talking to someone who calls that person
an "interface designer," so I never had to worry about that sort of
confusion since interfaces are largely digital in conception.

> If we are limiting to just screen-based IxD/UID then we are probably
> looking at the opposite orientation of making a SIG for the type of
> work you are discussing.

See the message I posted out of order. (Been spending the past few
days on a new contract, so I'm out of order on what has been said. My
apologies.) The larger issue is actually more fundamental: do
interaction designers need to have aesthetic skills?

The answer to that question makes the rest of the entire debate/
argument/discussion, etc., simplified. If the answer is yes, then the
whole discussion is VASTLY simplified. If the answer is no, then I
think it begs the question on whether interaction design is the field
to help define things like what it means to work on digital products,
since aesthetics are integral to those products in the same way
aesthetics are integral to industrial design.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

29 Jan 2008 - 7:55pm
Michael Micheletti
2006

On Tue, 29 Jan 2008 13:15:14, Jeff Howard <id at howardesign.com> wrote:

> Try not to think of it as interacting with the brochure. That's a
> red herring. Instead, think of it as interacting through the brochure
> with something else. The brochure mediates an interaction. Here's an
> example. No one goes to Expedia to interact with it. They operate the
> interface in order to interact with United or Southwest Airlines. Same
> thing with MySpace. It's not about interacting with the site. It's
> about using the site to interact with your friends.
>

This put me in mind of the "hanging chad" Florida ballots of a few years
back. Paper-based interaction design writ large.

Michael Micheletti

29 Jan 2008 - 9:35pm
Jai Godara
2008

It seems futile to argue over title/terms of what means what when
majority would agree that these are essentially roles/phases in a
larger system design approach%u2026yes, they do have overlaps, of
course, in terms of required skills, knowledge, and even certain
processes. yet they are essentially different in terms of their
individual focuses and outputs.

All the great products, services, end-results that provide a
delightful and successful experience are most often that way because
of their underlying structural units/attributes work cohesively with
each other to serve the purpose. So in an ideal world, interaction
design & UI design would not exist or work in isolation%u2026but
rather in tandem. Pretty much the same idea that Jeff underlined
earlier with "I think of interface design as the form-giving
counterpart to interaction design".

Essentially, Interaction designer role takes care of high-level
interaction or, in other words, chalking out the planning part of
interaction. Similar to a holistic system design approach where one
is not just designing the product in isolation but also considering
how it fits in a larger system and works in that environment.
Therefore, Interaction designer role has to take care of various
permutation and combination of activities that need to be supported
(again, high level); the orders of activities (process flows);
relationships among design elements, etc. And afterwards, UI designer
role kicks in and starts refining those big pictures to the levels of
individual pixels. Or course, there is fair amount of overlap of
activities and intentions, therefore, the disagreements,
misunderstandings, and apparent heartburns.

That is precisely the reason that I tend to agree with Dave on the
value that semantics and defining these roles (not the titles!)
provide. Not only it would give us perspectives on finer nuances of
these roles, such as what we do in these roles that make sense and
what does not? What are the finer distinctions between two? or even
better, what lies in that overlapping space of Venn diagram between
two? Could we discuss activities/processes and their orders in these
different roles? It may be another of those endless debatable issues,
nonetheless, a rewarding one as we may stumble upon insights that have
always stared us in the face and we never noticed.

To further the point, there are other fields/professions that have
the same role (or have a similar focus and set of outputs) , albeit,
with a different title. My question is what can we learn from those
professions that share the same attributes of IxD? May be it would
help us get deeper insights. May be it would stop us from reinventing
the wheel so yes, Dave you have my vote on the need and value-addition
of exploring the semantics.

To Jared: It seems like a yam/sweet potato discussion only when we
are focused on two terms/titles in pure isolation. However, once we
treat IxD and UI designer as the roles or set of processes in a given
endeavor and not just two standalone entities; we would see value in
discussing. So a more apt analogy could be designing a house plan,
brick laying, and coloring while building a house.

In the end, Sold to Adrian who said, "I'm all for talking about
more ways to practice the art. That seems to be a more productive
conversation than trying to define what the art is." May we move
beyond the silliness of comparing inane titles and get deeper
insights into what we do and why we do.

Jai

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=25077

30 Jan 2008 - 5:50am
Jeff Howard
2004

Andrei wrote:
> With interaction design, the desire to go broad with
> the core definition but exclusionary on what the skills
> are actually winds up limiting the designer's role...

I'm not suggesting that interaction designers abandon aesthetics or
that we silo ourselves within an exclusionary vertical skillset.
Quite the contrary. Interaction designers can only benefit by
understanding the fundamentals of graphic design. But it's not
enough. We also need to understand the basics of materials,
environments and organizations. I see interaction designers as
requiring generalist skills in form-giving across many disciplines.
I'm never going to fire up solidworks and render a shipping product.
I'll never lay out an architectural blueprint, wire a circuit board
or write a line of C. But I should be able to have intelligent
conversations with the people who do. As a discipline we're not
there yet.

The best interaction designers will tend to supplement their
generalized expertise with specialization in an area of form-giving
such as UI design or service design or policy design. I see no
conflict with t-shaped individuals embodying multiple roles and
switching focus when required.

// jeff

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=25077

29 Jan 2008 - 10:11pm
Anonymous

I'm doing some visual design prototypes this evening, preparing to call "my"
visual designer tommorrow, and thinking this isn't an academic subject or
splitting hairs. I feel interaction designer and visual designer are not
idealized roles, but are how people break down at the mastery level. If
you're trying to do world class work these 2 people are different. A
competent interaction designer will have a visual aesthetic, and intuit what
avenues are worthy of exploration for the client/project, but they may look
to an expert visual designer for backing on the visual design front. The
interaction designer better be the one who is so embedded in
the client's world view that s/he's probably the one chomping at the bit
with tangents and avenues worth looking into from a visual designer. At
least that's how I feel. Interaction designers key attributes have to be
empathy for the user's you are working for, and intuition about some end
state of the user experience. The interaction designer probably is "calling
in" the visual design expert to help achieve that end-state.

I thought I would share what I'm working on because it seems clear to me by
example. At my company, I'm the in-house IxDesigner, and the visual designer
is contracted out. In my case, it is a matter of when I call in the "big
guns." I do interaction design in the medical imaging space. Things are
changing here quick, 3d imaging data from the newest scanners is becoming
available to physicians and those virtual human images will no longer be
something you only see on the Discovery channel but in the hospital. For a
facile analogy, think flight simulator is now available to
your gastroenterologist, who has only ever played the arcade version of Pole
Position. Problem: With all of these fancy images in all planes, we find
that even imaging experts have a hard time visualizing where one image (one
slice) is in relation to another spatially. Surprise,
surprise, non-expert physicians (e.g. surgeons) have even a harder time,
and shy away from using imaging systems in a lot of cases. Instead,
they cut people open to find what out what the anatomy is, or to find out
what size stent to use etc. Uneeded operations? Yes. People avoid
technology if they aren't confident with it.

So, while working on some interaction scenarios tonight, I thought "can we
modify some visual cues on these images to give people a better sense of
where one plane is in relation to another?" This is not the objective of
our project (remember we're making flight simulator for the medical world),
but just an inkling of one of many such intangible user needs I keep near at
mind. So I tried a visual design prototype in 20 minutes (temporary link
http://phosted.com/0801/ixda_work_screen.jpg). The prototype isn't there
yet, but I can see it might go somewhere if we can give physicians
a perceptual sense of "looking" into the planar relationships. I could
continue doing visual design, but now having honed in on a specific problem
worth solving and what looks like a possible fruitful path I'm going to hand
it off. I'd rather steep the visual designer in the problem and user's
needs and have him come back at me with new ideas. Is this prettying up an
interface? No. Is it branding? No. It is visual communication, mostly
of a static form, and there are visual designers who are specialists
there. My goal for these users to give physicians people a sense of
spatial relations so they use fancy-shmancy images and can "see" where they
are in the body. I'm well aware that my current initiative may not be the
one, we may need to envision a rotating orb with plane slices all through
it, or something else entirely. I think it is part of the interaction
designer makeup to really persevere until the user's goals are met, and a
visual designer is one person to enlist on the way there.

To summarize, I'm sure some interaction designers can do the gamut of
branding, icongraphy and top notch static visual communicaiton. I'm sure
many visual designers can create a sensible interaction design in the
complex space of business, technology and people. But do people really
find that there are people who are equally motivated to do it all, and are
equally talented in both...or is it more the case that people naturally fall
into these two roles?

I think it is something like to do world-class work you'll generally find
that the interaction designer and visual designer have two skill set domains
that overlap, but they are different roles and these people fallout
naturally. The interaction designer better be breadth heavy in more
skills and the visual designer better be depth heavy in fewer. You want
both on your team.

Navid Sadikali
Interaction Designer
Agfa Healthcare

On Jan 29, 2008 6:12 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk <andrei at involutionstudios.com>
wrote:

> On Jan 29, 2008, at 9:01 AM, Jim Leftwich wrote:
>
> > I'm not that worried about Interaction Design, or IxDA, being
> > limited in definition or scope however. There are a number of
> > generalists that have been around for a long time that will continue
> > to point out the value of embracing a more encompassing view of
> > Interaction Design as IxDA moves forward and grows. As for the
> > specialists and those practicing within specific domains - perhaps
> > they would benefit by forming specialist sub-groups *within the
> > larger and inclusive organization*. But it will prove impossible and
> > impractical to artificially limit the profession that's been being
> > practiced for decades, nor the organization that's beginning to
> > represent us all.
>
> That's all fine and good and makes plenty of sense at a high level.
> The major issue I've had is the outward claims by some that
> interaction design is "bigger than digital" on the one hand, but then
> bypass issues that are claimed to be outside the scope of
> "interaction" on the other.
>
> To be fair, I don't think anyone intends that to be the case, but
> when people say things like "interaction design is to interface
> design like art direction is to graphic design," or that "interface
> designers draw while interaction designers don't," well... that's
> exclusionary. (And in the art director analogy, a bit on the absurd
> side since art director's are notoriously seen by many in the graphic
> industry as outsiders who never learned how to draw, so they tell
> others what to draw. I'm generalizing obviously, so my apologies to
> any art director's in the audience.)
>
> To me, it seems if you want to have a larger and more inclusive
> definition of what interaction design is, then the core skillset has
> to be broader as well. In this specific case, that broader definition
> is going to have to include visual and aesthetic at some fundamental
> level. Not to the degree of needing a major in graphic design, but
> core fundamentals that are needed that apply to interaction,
> especially when interaction has to be defined for technology
> products. Most of this core set of skills are probably found in a few
> books like Tufte's Envisioning Information, among a few others. It's
> not needing an entire Art History degree or getting into the nitty
> gritty of making posters with letterpresses, but certainly some level
> competency with aesthetic needs to be a core interaction designer skill.
>
> Why is this? I personally think has to do specifically with digital.
> I understand at a conceptual level how an interaction designer can
> help design an analog telephone or rework a service flow for FedEx.
> But when you start making digital products -- desktop client
> applications, web sites, web applications, stand alone kiosks, mobile
> interfaces, interfaces for the iPhone, etc. -- the aesthetic part is
> integral to the success of the interactive part in a way that's not
> easily separated, like it might be for non-digital forms of
> interaction design. Given that, for the large swath of people that
> are going to focus on digital, if they are calling themselves
> interaction designers, removing the aesthetic from the definition of
> what they do isn't going to help matters. It's fine for teams of
> people today to work together on the interaction and aesthetic
> collaboratively, but in the future, you really are going to want more
> and more people who know how to do both, and are trained in how to do
> both, even if they focus on one or the other in a team environment.
>
> Why? For the very same reasons industrial designers are trained in
> both form and function.
>
> If a designer is compartmentalized to ignore or not having
> accountability on the aesthetic at a personal level, then the
> definition of interaction design is narrowed vertically as a job
> description, even if it's horizontal as a job that applies to broader
> market spaces. This is the crux of the problem, as near as I can tell.
>
> At a high level, having interaction design not be responsible for the
> aesthetic or be a core skill of an interaction designer is obviously
> fine, and can work for a variety of people. But for the ones that are
> looking to work in narrow market sectors, like focusing on digital
> products), they need a broader job definition horizontally on what it
> is they are held accountable for in the overall design of the
> product. To not do so would, it seems that calling oneself an
> "interaction designer" does neither the designer in that position nor
> the field of interaction any justice. The designer silo's themselves
> in a way that limits what the business expects them to work on or can
> work on, and profession suffers from confusion on what interaction
> designers actually do and are best suited for, since it would be
> market dependent in a way that's not accessible to those not in the
> know.
>
> Yes. Job titles and semantics matter, for these very reasons.
>
> That's pretty much it. Does interaction require competency with core
> fundamentals of graphic design or not? If it doesn't, we're back to
> square one on the problem since a definition that excludes an
> aesthetic will keep people segmented in a way that as digital
> products evolve, will not allow the designer to gain credibility or
> accountability for the totality of the design. It would be like an
> industrial designer looking for someone else to figure out if the
> product should be painted blue or red. Seems odd to me if that were
> to be the case, and extremely limiting. And for what it's worth, I'm
> of the opinion that if interaction designers insist on not needing
> aesthetic skills for digital product design, they will find
> themselves phased out of the design process by those that can do more
> at a broader. That's just my personal opinion, it's obviously not a
> proven fact. We'll have to wait ten years to see if that starts to
> emerge.
>
> With interaction design, the desire to go broad with the core
> definition but exclusionary on what the skills are actually winds up
> limiting the designer's role in a specific market like digital
> product design. This limitation is only a problem if you're someone
> like me who wants to work primarily on digital products.
>
> --
> Andrei Herasimchuk
>
> Principal, Involution Studios
> innovating the digital world
>
> e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
> c. +1 408 306 6422
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

30 Jan 2008 - 9:56am
Dave Malouf
2005

Andrei asked:
"The larger issue is actually more fundamental: do interaction
designers need to have aesthetic skills?"

An unequivocal "1 million %" (to quote my American Idol Buddy Randy
Jackson) YES!

Aesthetics is HUGE.
And understanding fundamentals of communication design (Visual,
audio, 3D, spatial, etc.) is at the core of a good IxD
education/training career path.

As for your post following Jim. I didn't give it a full read, but
what I did read seemed right on target.

If I understood the spirit, I would say, that yes, IxD's have to
understand and quite often DO UI Design.

So is UI Designer:Interaction Designer : designer what thoracic
surgeon: surgeon : doctor?

Medium : discipline : category

I realize this might have leaped a lot onto the conversation. But
what it means is that an interface designer IS an interaction
designer, but not all interaction designers are interface designers
and not all designers are interaction designers.

Does that work? Or did I mess everything up again. I was just trying
to bring it back to the original question of What's the difference?

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=25077

30 Jan 2008 - 11:28am
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jan 30, 2008, at 6:56 AM, dave malouf wrote:

> Aesthetics is HUGE.
> And understanding fundamentals of communication design (Visual,
> audio, 3D, spatial, etc.) is at the core of a good IxD education/
> training career path.

Then this is either not agreed upon or not well understood at large.
I suspect it's both, but mostly the former. (And even in looking at
the Interaction 08 speaker schedule, aesthetics seems a million miles
away in the conference.) Further, the whole interaction/visual
designer split used in most technology companies today further
entrenches interaction design as a field that is not also about
aesthetics.

I can't tell you how many "interaction" designers I meet that say
things along the lines of "I don't draw the buttons, I just work with
someone else that does."

This is a massive problem if the field is to be inclusive and support
digital product and software design. And has been since people have
been replacing "interface" designers with "interaction" designers,
and in the process creating a divide where interaction people as a
profession are given a means to avoid practicing and being
responsible for aesthetics, even if on a particular team for a
particular project they are do not need to exercise those skills.

If aesthetics are indeed fundamental to interaction design, then it
also trickles down to skills and knowledge. Interaction designers
SHOULD know how to use tools like Photoshop, Illustrator, Fireworks
or other professional grade tools and state so on their resumes. Even
3D software if it means that. And by know how to use, I mean really
know how to use. Industrial designers use Illustrator all the time to
make isometric drawings! And learning a 3D program is far more
complicated than Illustrator, and Industrial designers are also
trained on those as well. The requirements and expectations in
aesthetics for industrial designers far exceeds what current
interaction designers are expected to know, and that's a problem if
IxD is supposed to be more inclusive.

> If I understood the spirit, I would say, that yes, IxD's have to
> understand and quite often DO UI Design.

On their own or as a pair? If on their own, which also means being
able to draw icons if that's what required to make the product real,
then we are in agreement.

The whole team approach and pairing of skillsets is a means to an
end, not the definition of what the person needs to be able to
design. Or how they are trained as a designer. Teams are needed for a
variety of reasons -- workloads, project scale, collaboration, idea
generation, etc. -- but when a team is not needed or not possible due
to a variety of factors, if a business executive hires an
"interaction" designer, I think that exec should expect the
interaction designer to be able design the total product.

> So is UI Designer:Interaction Designer : designer what thoracic
> surgeon: surgeon : doctor?

Quick sidenote: I loathe the acronym "UI." It's so arcane. I just
prefer "interface."

Is Interface Designer: Interaction Designer:Design like Thoracic
Surgeon:Surgeon:Medicine? If the core skills of the interaction field
require aesthetic, then I could see how that is tenable and even
desirable.

However, it would *require* a change in definition of:

http://ixda.org/about_interaction.php

"Interaction design (IxD) is the branch of user experience design
that illuminates the relationship between people and the interactive
products they use. While interaction design has a firm foundation in
the theory, practice, and methodology of traditional user interface
design, its focus is on defining the complex dialogues that occur
between people and interactive devices of many type -- from computers
to mobile communications devices to appliances."

On that page, there is nary a requirement for interaction designers
to also be steeped in aesthetics. And again, it even encourages
someone who calls themselves an interaction designer to be paired
with others who are trained in aesthetics:

"While interaction designers often work closely with specialists in
visual design, information architecture, industrial design, user
research, or usability, and may even provide some of these services
themselves, their primary focus is on defining interactivity."

And there's that word again: "defining."

Designers don't define. They make and create and design, and as often
as possible with their own two hands.

> I realize this might have leaped a lot onto the conversation. But
> what it means is that an interface designer IS an interaction
> designer, but not all interaction designers are interface designers
> and not all designers are interaction designers.

That would be true only if aesthetics is indeed required as part of
the definition of an IxD.

My take and fear on this is that "aesthetics" are deemed to be not
needed in other aspects of interaction, and are therefore not
required as a core skill. That actually winds up being exclusive, not
inclusive. Lacking that core skill or focus at the higher definition
of IxD trickles down to the medium, and it winds up actually placing
walls and barriers in ways that make IxD narrowly focused in the
trenches, rather than broad enough to cover what's needed to do the
job, which in this particular case would be aesthetic skills and
knowledge. Interaction design that requires screens and displays
require aesthetics to be successful.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

30 Jan 2008 - 10:07am
Pankaj Chawla
2008

Hi Dave,

On Wed, 30 Jan 2008 06:56:56, dave malouf <dave at ixda.org> wrote:
> So is UI Designer:Interaction Designer : designer what thoracic
> surgeon: surgeon : doctor?
>
> Medium : discipline : category
>
> I realize this might have leaped a lot onto the conversation. But
> what it means is that an interface designer IS an interaction
> designer, but not all interaction designers are interface designers
> and not all designers are interaction designers.

This one seems to be bang on target. I hope it once and for all puts the
debate to an end.

Cheers
Pankaj

30 Jan 2008 - 11:46am
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jan 30, 2008, at 7:07 AM, Pankaj Chawla wrote:

> This one seems to be bang on target. I hope it once and for all
> puts the
> debate to an end.

Let's be clear.

There is only a debate, especially from someone like me, because many
people will agree with Dave on this point (the
medium:discipline:category analogy), but not explicitly agree on the
point Dave said earlier in message: that IxD requires training and a
core understanding in aesthetics.

So I guess the question is: Pankaj, do you also agree that aesthetics
are a fundamental requirement of practicing IxD?

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

30 Jan 2008 - 11:58am
Lukeisha Carr
2007

"An unequivocal '1 million %' (to quote my American Idol Buddy
Randy Jackson) YES!", Dave's answer to Andrei's question regarding
aesthetic skills.

I have been following this post and many others like it, as I'm sure
other newbies are, to see what's the best preparation to enter this
field, especially if they are not coming from an art or graphic
design background. Since reading these posts, graphic design
fundamentals have opened my eyes. So, I do believe that those
fundamentals are very helpful to know when a page is unbalanced or
over crowded, etc. But how deep does the aesthetic abilities have to
run? Please forgive me if this throws another layer of annoying
discussion regarding definitions, but here is one from Webster's
dictionary.

Aesthetics: http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/aesthetic

My point is that graphics/web/visual designers do more than just have
a knack for knowing when something looks pleasing. For example, there
are many people who have, never drawn, coded a web site, etc. that can
naturally tell what's beautiful and what is not. So to make the
question more direct, do IxD's need to know how to manipulate
graphics, create from scratch or make touch-ups? Do they need to
know how to use photoshop, illustrator, and other graphic design
tools at a proficient or expert level? Do they even have to know how
to implement CSS?

I could be wrong, but I think this is where people are wondering if
most "interaction" designers creates the form & layout, but then
hand that over to "interface" designers to make the lines curve,
swirl, add color schemes, blink, slide, etc, using some the nifty
tools just mentioned above.

Dave, I think you are absolutely right here:

"an interface designer IS an interaction designer, but not all
interaction designers are interface designers and not all designers
are interaction designers."

But where is the line drawn when one person is not both? And knowing
how companies try so hard to get more & more out of less & less
people, how realistic is it to be an IxD, but not a UID, especially
when IxD/IA/usability in general has to be sold to companies as
useful?

~ Lukeisha

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=25077

30 Jan 2008 - 12:15pm
Adrian Howard
2005

Hi David,

On 29 Jan 2008, at 13:56, David Malouf wrote:

> HI Adrian (I wish the web version had better "quoting" features.)

Me too!

> see adrian's reply to me above ...
> Yes, you can do both. You should do both, but you shouldn't do one
> w/o the
> other. I'm not saying that you are or aren't, but your posts (my
> limited
> insight into who you are) project that you are focusing on one
> aspect, at
> least in a unbalanced way, so I'm probably reacting in a further
> unbalanced
> way.

If it's any comfort - I had the opposite unbalanced view of your
focus (all "big" no "little".)

Absolutely 100% both. No argument from me there.

Not necessarily all of both in the same person (in my opinion
anyway). Not necessarily all "big" or all "little in one role (in my
opinion anyway). But all of those skills need to be in the product
development team.

What I'm not getting is the need/motive in drawing a ring around a
particular subset of "big" things and naming it Interaction Design
that can only be done by an Interaction Designer - which is what I
mistakenly took to be your view. Folk with that view worry me.

> As for studio. I understand how agile environments have become more
> collaborative, but it is still not studio. It's hard to explain,
> but what is
> hard is that even in design studios today b/c of the focus on
> computers, a
> lot of the studio experience of ID is lost. Imagine if you had a
> big wall
> and on that wall was a projection of everyone's code, and everyone
> can see
> it. Imagine a place where people can see your name attributed to
> your code,
> and then if someone sees something they want to comment on, they
> just walk
> up to you and butt their noses right into your space and tell you
> what they
> think. Something like that. ;).
>
> There is a frenetic creativity (not
> efficiency) that evolves from this environment. I'm not saying it
> would work
> for coding.

That sounds exactly like an agile development environment to me.
Seriously. That "if someone sees something they want to comment on,
they just walkup to you and butt their noses right into your space
and tell you what they think" is a thing joy and something to foster
whatever you're doing. It's a bloody excellent way of working -
ideally with coders and designers and business owners all together.
In my opinion anyway.

Possibly you need to try harder to explain the "hard to explain" :-)

> As for what can this do?
> Ok, here is the example. Cooper's concept on posture. I'm not
> saying this is
> a foundation of IxD, but it is a good axis. Understanding the
> posture of
> application will radically change the forms you use communicate the
> interaction paradigms. You might have really similar task (i.e.
> messaging)
> but b/c email has a different posture than instant messaging (even
> though in
> reality they are REALLY the same thing), the forms take on a very
> different
> flow.

Surely you don't have a similar task of "messaging". You have two
radically different user goals, which you can describe with certain
postures, which drive you towards certain kinds of interface... which
both end up doing some sort of message passing.... The message
passing isn't the point.

I always saw postures a descriptive - not prescriptive myself. You
work from the user goals to a solution, and along the way you get to
a stage where you can say whether an interface is sovereign/transient/
parasitic/whatever-the-other-one-was-called. I don't suddenly get to
a stage in the process where I go "We Shall develop a Sovereign
Posture Application" :-) Instead a Sovereign Posture application
emerges from the design constraints of the system as a whole.

... but it's been a long time since I've read About Face so I could
be misremembering the way Cooper used them.

... but I get the point. There are issues in developing products that
are "higher level" than the form. No argument from me.

(Not seeing the connect with this and the design school stuff though...)

> This in my mind explains two things:
> 1. IxD exists outside the form.

Don't see that. Not reliant on any _particular_ form maybe - but
"outside" form... that doesn't sound quite right to me.
Interdependent on form maybe. With a big damn fuzzy spot between the
two.

> 2. Understanding foundations can have a profound effect on your day
> to day.

Well duh :-)

> I'll take it back to studio.
> A real foundation of IxD is pacing. Like any narrative, there is
> pacing. In
> a studio setting what a student or practitioner might do is play with
> various forms to embody different pacings. They would then hone in
> on the
> right source.
>
> This is very similar to how a graphic designer will do different
> comps that
> change specific axis of color, line, text, white space, etc.
>
> Unless we have the same foundations to sketch against, it is hard
> for us in
> a processed/controlled and explainable manner communicate the
> differences
> between different interaction models. They are just different, and
> the only
> way we can communicate about them is in terms of usability.

Cool. The more techniques the better. Let's talk about them instead
of what is/isn't Interaction Design :-)

Cheers,

Adrian

30 Jan 2008 - 11:46am
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jan 30, 2008, at 7:07 AM, Pankaj Chawla wrote:

> This one seems to be bang on target. I hope it once and for all
> puts the
> debate to an end.

Let's be clear.

There is only a debate, especially from someone like me, because many
people will agree with Dave on this point (the
medium:discipline:category analogy), but not explicitly agree on the
point Dave said earlier in message: that IxD requires training and a
core understanding in aesthetics.

So I guess the question is: Pankaj, do you also agree that aesthetics
are a fundamental requirement of practicing IxD?

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

30 Jan 2008 - 12:22pm
Adrian Howard
2005

On 30 Jan 2008, at 16:46, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:
[snip]
> So I guess the question is: Pankaj, do you also agree that aesthetics
> are a fundamental requirement of practicing IxD?
[snip]

Why do I get the horrible feeling that somebody is going to ask for a
definition of "aesthetics" now :-)

Adrian

30 Jan 2008 - 12:49pm
Jeff Howard
2004

Andrei wrote:
> My take and fear on this is that "aesthetics" are deemed
> to be not needed in other aspects of interaction,
> and are therefore not required as a core skill.

Andrei, I feel like you're tilting at windmills. No one in this
thread is suggesting that aesthetics aren't important. I just
re-skimmed it to be sure. I believe that aesthetics are even
important to the "other aspects of interaction" like service and
process flows. I would only point out that aesthetic concerns
transcend visual aesthetics.

None of the following quotes from this thread should be taken to mean
that interaction designers are unaware of aesthetic concerns or
dismiss their importance:

> IxD exists outside the form.
> UI designer delivers the interface, the IxD plans it.
> Interface design is the form-giving counterpart
> to interaction design.
> IxD primary focus is on defining...

I believe that understanding and caring about aesthetics makes
interaction designers better at their job. But there's a leap from
understanding and caring about the fundamentals to being responsible
for form-giving. Once you make that leap you're practicing Interface
Design.

We've had threads in the past that debate whether Interaction
Designers should know how to program. Perhaps it would be useful to
devote a similar thread to exploring the aesthethic demands on the
discipline.

// jeff

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=25077

30 Jan 2008 - 1:16pm
Adrian Howard
2005

On 30 Jan 2008, at 06:56, dave malouf wrote:
[snip]
> I realize this might have leaped a lot onto the conversation. But
> what it means is that an interface designer IS an interaction
> designer, but not all interaction designers are interface designers
> and not all designers are interaction designers.
>
> Does that work? Or did I mess everything up again. I was just trying
> to bring it back to the original question of What's the difference?

That works for me.

Adrian

30 Jan 2008 - 1:22pm
Adrian Howard
2005

On 30 Jan 2008, at 16:28, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:
[snip]
> I can't tell you how many "interaction" designers I meet that say
> things along the lines of "I don't draw the buttons, I just work with
> someone else that does."
>
> This is a massive problem if the field is to be inclusive and support
> digital product and software design.
[snip]

If they work together well as a team and make great things - where is
the problem?

Adrian

30 Jan 2008 - 1:28pm
Adrian Howard
2005

On 30 Jan 2008, at 02:50, Jeff Howard wrote:
[snip]
> I'll never lay out an architectural blueprint, wire a circuit board
> or write a line of C. But I should be able to have intelligent
> conversations with the people who do. As a discipline we're not
> there yet.
[snip]

Yup. I think as many project failures are due to communication, or
the lack thereof, as there are due to lack of folk with the
appropriate skills.

Cheers,

Adrian

30 Jan 2008 - 1:41pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Jeff, actually, what bothered me about Andrei's response was not his
declaration that some on this list are not interested in aesthetics,
but the assertion (implicit) in his last responses that aesthetics
lies in the realm of form (visual, auditory, and spatial). I also
feel it is a bit of a burden to think about a career & education path
where all junior people have to understand ALL the aspects of all
aesthetic qualities. To me they should start with a core and build on
that over time. Some may focus on aesthetics of interaction
(non-formative, embodied in action and thought) and others may be
interested in aesthetics of the sensory (formative and embodied in
our senses: site, smell, hearing, touch -- ok, taste if you are a
chef).

Then as we mature and grow as designers we get to either dive deeper
into areas or broaden. There is room for both possibilities.

What seems unlikely is the creation of a DaVinci out of the box.

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=25077

30 Jan 2008 - 2:00pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jan 30, 2008, at 9:49 AM, Jeff Howard wrote:

> I believe that understanding and caring about aesthetics makes
> interaction designers better at their job. But there's a leap from
> understanding and caring about the fundamentals to being responsible
> for form-giving. Once you make that leap you're practicing Interface
> Design.

I agree. But I also think you did exactly what I have a problem with,
you gloss over the main concern as I expressed here:

-----

My take and fear on this is that "aesthetics" are deemed to be not
needed in other aspects of interaction, and are therefore not
required as a core skill. That actually winds up being exclusive, not
inclusive. Lacking that core skill or focus at the higher definition
of IxD trickles down to the medium, and it winds up actually placing
walls and barriers in ways that make IxD narrowly focused in the
trenches, rather than broad enough to cover what's needed to do the
job, which in this particular case would be aesthetic skills and
knowledge. Interaction design that requires screens and displays
require aesthetics to be successful.

-----

Read "not needed" as "not being responsible for form-giving."

I'm not tilting at windmills. I've been doing this work for quite
some time now (coming up on 20 years). I have seen the progression
from "interface designer" being someone who primarily worried about
visuals and less about interaction, to someone moving into a realm
where interface designers were given control over both form and
function, which was great. And then the web hits and "interaction"
becomes popular a few years later, which moved the field in the other
opposite extreme, which is primarily worrying about interaction but
less about aesthetic. Which is not great. Being solely focused on
visuals or solely focused on interaction in my experience is not the
best way to approach software and digital product design. Why? for
the very same reasons an industrial designer doesn't need to ask
someone else what color their product should be. It's just lacking as
a discipline when there is that split.

This is not theory. This actually happened over the last two decades.

Further, the latest trend of having interaction designers paired with
visual designers as the desired means of practice is a direct result
of interaction coming into its own while at the same time *not*
making the leap that interaction designers should be responsible for
"form-giving." Those issues are very much connected.

Here's the bottom line for me: There's a field of work out there that
is the equivalent of industrial design or graphic design in terms of
weight, importance and theory. Those professions are what Dave calls
the "discipline." This new discipline needs a name! If that name is
going to be "Interaction" then I think it needs to solve the problem
I see out there and as I have outlined above. If the discipline is
"Interface" or "Digital" design then maybe its time a new group needs
to be formed to finally address the problem and let IxD continue on
its merry way being a discipline that addresses a broader need and
that can be integrated into industrial, digital or graphic design
practices.

I'm fine with either situation or scenario, but its completely
unclear if this particular group wants to be the "discipline" that
desperately needs a cohesive name and organization rallying behind
it to change corporate culture and hierarchies.

On the one hand, you say "aesthetics" are important, but on the other
not important enough to make it core to the *discipline to the degree
the designer should actually be responsible for it. (Again,
regardless of how it is put into practice, due to logistics of the
corporate environment.) How can the inclusion or exclusion of that
distinction not be important to an organization that is defining a
new field of practice?

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

30 Jan 2008 - 2:13pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jan 30, 2008, at 10:41 AM, dave malouf wrote:

> Jeff, actually, what bothered me about Andrei's response was not his
> declaration that some on this list are not interested in aesthetics,
> but the assertion (implicit) in his last responses that aesthetics
> lies in the realm of form (visual, auditory, and spatial).

If it's somehow coming across that I only believe material aesthetic
is important or required, then let me clarify now that I don't mean
that and do not want to imply that, implicitly or otherwise. I tend
to approach my job as inclusively as possible, using material and
immaterial qualities to achieve my aesthetic goals.

> I also
> feel it is a bit of a burden to think about a career & education path
> where all junior people have to understand ALL the aspects of all
> aesthetic qualities. To me they should start with a core and build on
> that over time.

Of course. But given what architect, graphic and industrial students
are taught these days, I think its fair to say that any educational
program around interaction design as a discipline asks far less of
its students than those other established disciplines. So there's
plenty of room to add to the foundation as near as I can tell. And I
think students would jump at the chance to have a program that
covered the breadth of interaction if its defined as both
interactivity and aesthetic from the craft and skills point of view.

After that, if it wasn't clear that I think this is a life long
journey, then I clarify that now and say it explicitly. It is.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

30 Jan 2008 - 3:09pm
Jeff Howard
2004

Andrei, if I understand your position, you're saying that a command
of visual aesthetics should be core to the discipline of interaction
design. I don't mean to gloss over my disagreement.

If it were "core" to the discipline, browsing through a few Tufte
books as you suggest upstream wouldn't nearly cover it. It might be
enough to kickstart the basic understanding I advocate for
interaction designers, but not to cover the core skills of a
specialization like interface design. I view the degree of focus
necessary for good interface design as similar in intensity to
industrial and graphic design. Comparing interaction design is more
difficult; I view it as a generalist discipline. It's like comparing
apples and produce.

Interestingly, Carnegie Mellon had been exploring the possiblity of
breaking down the walls between their degrees and simply graduating
"designers" a few years ago. I don't know if they're still on
that or not.

// jeff

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=25077

30 Jan 2008 - 3:29pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Hi Andrei, we're close.
I think that the foundations taught in architecture and ID programs
are quite specific. I.e. Graphic design is not included in
foundations for most IDs and quite honestly the IDs I've worked with
would make horrible graphic designers. Architecture also has a
foundation, but type is not really a full-semester studio class from
my recollection of looking at those programs.

Now that being said, I believe there is a crisis in IxD education in
the US specifically b/c of the dearth of programs, but globally b/c
of the lack of consistency between programs (thus the definition
problem).

If I would create an Masters of Design program in IxD, it would first
off be 3 years.
year 1 is all about foundations and core theory (and probably is the
"life? what's a life?" year). Besides the usual suspects, this
would also include at least 1 class in Java, or programming in
ActionScript or Visual Basic/XAML (you get my point).

Year 2 is 1/2 about theory and then about focus. This is where the
HCI stuff meets the tangible interfaces vs. the software stuff vs.
systems/services.

Year 3 is a continuation of focus, 1st semester growing towards a 2nd
semester thesis/portfolio piece.

Electives in business, tools, management (it is a masters after all)

Now, if it were a bachelor's program, it would be a 5 year program.
But does anyone want to be an interaction designer when they are 17.
;)

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=25077

30 Jan 2008 - 3:40pm
dmitryn
2004

Dave, your proposal actually sounds like a great bachelor's degree
curriculum (or last 3 years thereof).

A 3-year masters degree, while great for curriculum breadth/depth reasons,
would likely attract few students of high caliber due to the opportunity
cost. Even 2-year master's degrees face this challenge (which is why a
number of MBA programs have moved towards 12 or 18 month curricula).

Dmitry

On Wed, 30 Jan 2008 12:29:22, dave malouf <dave at ixda.org> wrote:

> Hi Andrei, we're close.
> I think that the foundations taught in architecture and ID programs
> are quite specific. I.e. Graphic design is not included in
> foundations for most IDs and quite honestly the IDs I've worked with
> would make horrible graphic designers. Architecture also has a
> foundation, but type is not really a full-semester studio class from
> my recollection of looking at those programs.
>
> Now that being said, I believe there is a crisis in IxD education in
> the US specifically b/c of the dearth of programs, but globally b/c
> of the lack of consistency between programs (thus the definition
> problem).
>
> If I would create an Masters of Design program in IxD, it would first
> off be 3 years.
> year 1 is all about foundations and core theory (and probably is the
> "life? what's a life?" year). Besides the usual suspects, this
> would also include at least 1 class in Java, or programming in
> ActionScript or Visual Basic/XAML (you get my point).
>
> Year 2 is 1/2 about theory and then about focus. This is where the
> HCI stuff meets the tangible interfaces vs. the software stuff vs.
> systems/services.
>
> Year 3 is a continuation of focus, 1st semester growing towards a 2nd
> semester thesis/portfolio piece.
>
> Electives in business, tools, management (it is a masters after all)
>
> Now, if it were a bachelor's program, it would be a 5 year program.
> But does anyone want to be an interaction designer when they are 17.
> ;)
>
> -- dave
>
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=25077
>
>
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