Differnce between user interface and interaction design?

24 Jan 2008 - 7:06pm
6 years ago
57 replies
16512 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

30 Jan 2008 - 2:51pm
Mark Schraad
2006

The program that I come from (Kansas) has a fairly dated approach to
teaching graphics (IMHO. In the 5 year undergrad ID program, graphics
are emphasized as are presentation skills. The interaction design
classwork stems largely from the ID facult. They work in teams on
most projects... and many of them already code.

Dave, if the masters student already has a design undergrad degree,
so they skip the first year?

Mark

On Jan 30, 2008, at 7:29 AM, dave malouf 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
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *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 - 2:55pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Dmitry, I hear ya on the time cost thing. It's why I didn't do an ID degree
about 2 years ago.
3 years, no life and no pay, was a bit too much for someone who already had
over 10 years experience.
I do REALLY wish that I could do such a program, or pick and choose what I
need in terms of studio/craft/theory work and somehow combine that with my
real world experience to then create a degree out of that.

That would be an interesting educational program that I have never seen.
A part time program that assumes experience as credit towards a degree.
Maybe it is like an executive program where there are concentrated pieces
like 2 2wk. concentrations for studio work, and then weekends for course
work on specific supplemental theory, and then a thesis project of some sort
"proving" acquired skills from both experience and formal education. hmmm?

-- dave

On Jan 30, 2008 3:40 PM, Dmitry Nekrasovski <mail.dmitry at gmail.com> wrote:

> 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
> >
> >
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > *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
> >
>
>

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

30 Jan 2008 - 12:43pm
James W. Bond Jr.
2007

I am interested in this topic from a different perspective. I am on
the outside looking in.

I have been doing customer support and network design most of my
career and have started looking for a change when I discovered
Interaction Design. This debate is important to me for the simple
reason that I don't have a background.

I am starting new and as such am at the mercy of conventional
thinking as to what skills I must learn to become an interaction
designer. Right now my list is huge and I feel that I am no closer
to understanding how to start out than when I first stumbled across
the job, accidentally, on Monster.com.

To completely honest I am a bit overwhelmed and frustrated. I have
read this board (I may not post, but I pay attention!), been to Core,
been to EVERY link that is mentioned (I have massive amounts of one
off reading), I am on safaribooksonline reading, and I have tapped
most of my resources. The verdict: no one knows!

This is a little disconcerting as there does not seem to be any real
way of knowing if I am learning the right material to become an
interaction designer. The only other way to cover my bases is to
learn everything under the sun which is a major undertaking.

While this is a conversation of semantics to those that are already
in the business, it's a worrying element to those (me) trying to
break in. If you don't know what you "are", how am I supposed to
learn what to do so I can one day be hired as well?

I am sorry if I come off as grumpy I have a ton of reading / research
to do on this topic and I am battling a cold. Neither seem like it
will ever end!

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

30 Jan 2008 - 5:53pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jan 30, 2008, at 12:29 PM, dave malouf wrote:

> Hi Andrei, we're close.

Not possible! 8^)

Yes. We are close. We were always close, and that has largely been my
frustration for so long since I'm obviously unable to communicate
this in way that makes that clear and not abrasive or confrontational.

> 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.

This is all true. I agree.

The question then, if I read you correctly, is the degree and what
aspects of general design practice would be required? The fact ID
folks aren't trained in traditional graphic design does not mean they
skip specific training in material aesthetics as it applies to craft
and skills. And in fact, things like color theory largely cross
disciplines as it applies to both industrial design and graphic
design, so there is shared knowledge.

I agree with Jeff that Tufte isn't enough, and I didn't mean to imply
it was. I was only pointing out his book and its concepts as one of
the kinds of specific skills in craft that are directly applicable to
IxD. So the question is, how much is needed and what is enough?

My personal recommendation would be along the lines I mentioned in a
different thread a few weeks back: Color, Type and Composition. If
you want to be brave, I'd love to toss in Form as well. (As in the
kind of form making needed to design a physical product.) Those core
pieces seem to be the best place to start. Everyone should learn
those core pieces and then develop a deeper understanding of these
concepts and how to apply them later on as they grow as an IxDer. And
with those core skills under your belt, one better understands the
principles of a Tufte and how to use them for specific forms of
interaction design. One can also examine a Paul Rand, a Henry
Dreyfuss, a Charles Eames or Gerrit Rietveld and see deeper ways
those various aspects of design apply to interaction. Beyond that,
designers will more than likely find their own paths based on their
own personal strengths and desires. Some might find photography more
their liking, some might get into illustration or poster design, some
may enjoy making furniture, none of which needs to be considered a
core competency of IxD, but all skills that encourage and expand the
strength of IxD as a profession.

And of course, you'd have to fold in core interaction principles to
all this to create the proper balance as well, like understanding
time and motion, narrative, context, feedback mechanisms, patterns,
metaphors etc. I'm for all of it. By outlining one aspect of the
design skillset like I did above, I don't mean the imply that's the
only skillset, I'm just trying to point out the material aesthetic
and craft that have been lacking explicitly to this day from my point
of view in the context of IxD.

Is all of that too much? I honestly don't think so. It only feels
like a lot to someone who might have to go back to square one on some
of these things having not been given an opportunity to do so when
they were in the headspace of being in an academic environment. But
when I look at what it takes to become an architect, an industrial
designer, a graphic designer, even a lawyer or doctor... I honestly
don't believe that the combination of the skills I'm advocating
combined with the skills I see emerging in IxD as an agreed
foundation for all of IxD to be more overwhelming in scope that any
other of the great design professions.

> 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).

This I also agree with. Especially as it relates to above.

> If I would create an Masters of Design program in IxD, it would first
> off be 3 years...

All good stuff.

> 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.
> ;)

The day they do is the day you'll know the profession has arrived.

I also eagerly await the day http://ixda.org/about_interaction.php
changes to reflect this sort of direction in more explicit language.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

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

30 Jan 2008 - 6:52pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jan 30, 2008, at 10:43 AM, James Bond wrote:

> I have been doing customer support and network design most of my
> career and have started looking for a change when I discovered
> Interaction Design. This debate is important to me for the simple
> reason that I don't have a background.

As a quick aside: One of the best things about being a designer, it's
like being a writer. No amount of school, degrees, learning, etc.,
will prevent you from being one even if you lack formal training or
background. Why? Because design, after all is said and done at the
end of the day, cannot be faked. Anyone who learns how to do it can
do so regardless of background or how they obtained that background.

So take that as encouragement to dive in if you feel so inclined. But
the water will probably be icy cold in those first few moments. Don't
worry... you'll acclimate soon enough.

> To completely honest I am a bit overwhelmed and frustrated. I have
> read this board (I may not post, but I pay attention!), been to Core,
> been to EVERY link that is mentioned (I have massive amounts of one
> off reading), I am on safaribooksonline reading, and I have tapped
> most of my resources. The verdict: no one knows!

I'll let others chime in here, because even though I'm the trenches
to a large degree, even after 20 years of practicing what I do for a
living, I'm still in the same boat as you here. Now imagine how I feel!

> This is a little disconcerting as there does not seem to be any real
> way of knowing if I am learning the right material to become an
> interaction designer. The only other way to cover my bases is to
> learn everything under the sun which is a major undertaking.

One way for you to narrow the scope to get on a path that leads in a
tangible, more definitive direction: What kind of products do you
want to make or be part of making? Software? Web Sites? Digital
Devices like an iPod? Appliances like in your home? Environmental
spaces? Do you have something in mind you really want to do?

If you ask the list: Where should I start if I want to learn how to
design the interaction for the iPhone? I'm more than sure you'll get
a plethora of very good answers to help you start down a path to get
the ball rolling.

> I am sorry if I come off as grumpy I have a ton of reading / research
> to do on this topic and I am battling a cold. Neither seem like it
> will ever end!

Fair warning: Being a designer is like a life long journey on a ship.
If you are prone to sea sickness from the off and on occurrence of
swells, then either bring along some dramamine or learn to love the
rocking of the waves. On days when I can't handle the motion, my drug
of choice is a really good bottle of Ridge.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

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

31 Jan 2008 - 3:11am
SteveJBayer
2008

I'm fairly new to interaction design. I started off as a Junior User Experience Designer in June 07.

As far as websites are concerned, a sense of visual aesthetics is an advantage because a visually appealing wire frame is usually more easy to sell to a client than a less appealing wire frame that has more interactivity.

Oh btw, I'm 25 and if I was aware of Interaction Design at 17, I would have at least tried to sign up for an online course or follow its curriculum.

31 Jan 2008 - 8:32am
Pankaj Chawla
2008

On 1/30/08, Andrei Herasimchuk <andrei at involutionstudios.com> wrote:
> So I guess the question is: Pankaj, do you also agree that aesthetics
> are a fundamental requirement of practicing IxD?

No I dont agree aesthetics is a fundamental requirement for IxD. But
to me Interaction design is all about interface design. If you arent
designing an interface what else are you designing when you talk about
designing behaviours. Every interaction needs an interface. Period.
Show me an interaction that happens without a medium/interface between
them. You and me exchanging our thoughts here are using email as the
interface. Had we been face to face we would be using voice and
language as the interface. Wonder what would happen if you talked
spanish and I german. There is no interface and hence no interaction.
The whole confusion is really around the usage of the word
Interaction. To me interaction is fundamental whenever two entities
communicate - whether communication is human-human, human-machine or
machine-machine. The way Interaction Design as a craft was coined way
back in 1980s, it really meant Interaction design at the
Human-Computer Interface level on lines of Industrial Design which was
Human-Machine interface design. Since Industrial had the context of
machines it was always easy to understand but Interaction Design
(which is more fundamental) was used in context of Human-Computer
Interface but without qualifiying the context explicitly. That
implicit qualification (Human-Computer) lead to it everybody giving
their own interpretaion and hence all the confusion. Hope I didnt add
to more confusion :)

Cheers
Pankaj

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