Interface Design vs Interaction Design

17 Oct 2008 - 7:12am
5 years ago
41 replies
25082 reads
tahsin
2008

Hi all, I'm new to this discussion group and have been a systems
developer/web developer for quite a while. I only recently heard the term
"Interaction Design" used to refer to those doing interface design.

So, my question immediately was. what's the difference?

Comments

20 Oct 2008 - 10:32am
Hugh Griffith
2007

Hi Tahsin,

I think that's a great question, and one I've been wondering about myself
(at least how they're defined in the web world).

I've always felt that while both terms could describe a designer who defines
how users interact, or use, an application or web page, an *interface *designer
would likely be creating the visual designs for the UI. An
*interaction *designer
on the other hand, might not (they'd hand off to a visual designer).

Anyhow, I'd like to hear others weigh in on this, especially those in the
academic world.

On Fri, Oct 17, 2008 at 6:12 AM, Tahsin Shamma <tshamma at ipswitch.com> wrote:

> Hi all, I'm new to this discussion group and have been a systems
> developer/web developer for quite a while. I only recently heard the term
> "Interaction Design" used to refer to those doing interface design.
>
>
>
> So, my question immediately was. what's the difference?
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> 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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>

--
Hugh Griffith
User Interface Designer

20 Oct 2008 - 11:36am
Dave Malouf
2005

To be honest, there may or may not be any difference at all at the
level of practice. One term has gained more traction as it has moved
away from GUI software design where UI has been prevelant and has
been encompassing systems design and hardware interface design as
well as service design. In many ways, Interaction design is interface
design (but not graphical interface design). It is about the story
that is made up of moments of dialog between different interfacing
moments made complex through intelligent connections and
relationships.

To me Interaction Design is an evolution from Interface Design
historically.

Then academically I think Interaction Design is much more than
interface design in many ways. Interface Design really doesn't have
academic offerings outside of computer science that I have seen. The
closest are interactive design programs that are mostly either
computer arts programs or skills certification programs. But
Interaction Design especially in the European schools has built
itself out of the Industrial Design tradition of design education
that combines craft and thinking processes as well as a long history
of critique.

So your question can be answered in so many ways and most answers are
going to be skewed by a persons current context and their
community/geography connections to their practice and education. It
is basically evolving, but through IxDA and other efforts I would say
the direction is as I describe it above. But I'm sure others have
other thoughts.

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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20 Oct 2008 - 1:33pm
DampeS8N
2008

David is completely right, however, it seems valuable to draw a line
somewhere.

Interface Design was and is the practice of designing the way someone
interacts with a product, traditionally on a screen by screen basis.

Interaction Design grew out of Interface Design, as those who
practiced it realized that in order to design a very useful product,
you must begin by designing how people will interact with it as a
whole.

Interaction Design (IxD) is a reverse blanket term that describes how
people apply many theories in psychology and physiology, including
Heuristics, Cybernetics, Ergonomics, Planning Theory, and even more
disparate fields dealing with Audio and Visual design.

To reduce that. Interface Design is about where buttons appear on a
page, and what those buttons look like. IxD is whether or not that
page needs to exist at all.

Or

Interface Design will tell you how best to ask a user for his
address, IxD will tell you to harvest it from somewhere that you
already have it stored.

Or

Interface Designers design interfaces, IxDs design ways to avoid
them.

Will

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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20 Oct 2008 - 2:06pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

This all sounds like revisionism to me.

As someone who's been practicing interface design for nearly 20 years,
I can tell you there's never been a time where what you folks describe
as "interaction" was never a part of interface design as I practiced
it. I understand I'm probably in the minority here about what I've
been allowed to control and design in my career, but what irks me the
most is how the IxD community is taking over a term, and in doing so,
negating certain skill sets in the process. It all feels as bad as the
decision by some to call folks "user experience designers."

It's always been about what the designer is expected to know and do in
their day to day work. Again, I don't care if in 20 years I'm called
an interaction designer, but the expectation better be that I get
accountability and control over the design of the interaction, the
visuals, and the information, along with the ability to budget and pay
for coding and building real prototypes.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

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

20 Oct 2008 - 2:41pm
Dave Malouf
2005

I don't think I was being revisionist. I do think that new
complexities outside of screen/mouse/keyboard have meant that
learnings from traditional UI Design (in your world) have been
married with other disciplines and have congealed towards the
creation of a new creole discipline of sorts. I don't think you
loose anything here and the issues are less about what *I* do as a
practitioner and more about how we move forward as technologies and
learnings need to be expressed in new ways outside of the interfaces
themselves.

Many many organizations HAVE created splits between interaction and
interface. They have done so with some levels of arguable success and
so have proven that while you want to retain all that control, many
organizations have decided to live in a more collaborative arena and
have succeeded doing so.

Basically, you do BOTH Interface and Interaction Design and that
makes you and the processes you live in ONE model that some have
succeeded with and others have not. It is neither the only way or the
best way, but a way that YOU have had a lot of success with.

No one is trying to define away your way of seeing the world, but
just trying to acknowledge and contend that there are divisions of
tasks, roles and disciplines at work here.

I think your belaboring of interface design as everything b/c you do
everything ends up becoming a defensive truism, without
substantiation except within the confines of individual practice.
Further, it does not constitute a real counter argument that
interface and interaction can be separated from one another (they can
equally be conjoined through practice as well).

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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20 Oct 2008 - 2:43pm
Andy Polaine
2008

I think Andrei has a point. The real, and useless, answer here is: "It
depends on who you are talking to."

Graphic Information Design is one of the precursors to what we now
know as interface design and interaction design and user experience
design. But GID didn't always include interaction (or experience for
that matter). There has also been a lot of interaction design that is
about designing the interaction and not really the interface. Or at
least where the interface (such as an artwork that employs camera
tracking) is the body and largely invisible to the user.

Personally I like "interaction design" because it seems to cover more
of what I do than "interface design". I come from a different
background to the GID folks, which is probably why. The best
description I've seen is the Venn diagram in Dan Saffer's Designing
for Interaction. Although incomplete, it shows the whole overlapping
mess of the area very well. (It's on page 17 for those playing at home).

Best,

Andy

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
Andy Polaine

Research | Writing | Strategy
Interaction Concept Design
Education Futures

Skype: apolaine

http://playpen.polaine.com
http://www.designersreviewofbooks.com
http://www.omnium.net.au
http://www.antirom.com
::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

20 Oct 2008 - 2:53pm
schepop
2008

Hello Andrei, one remark.

I have being working with interface design for a while (8 years). I
understand your point but I like the perspective the label gives. I am
not focussed on the interface, but on the interaction. Talking about
screen-based interface this can sounds fuzzy. When you are talking
about designing "intelligent/responsive" products/ambient, where I can
define shape, hand-fit, textures and movement required to interact, I
am not designing the interface, but the interaction.

Aiming this type of tangible/physical/multimodal interaction I left my
former web-interface position do a master on Product Design, regarding
Design for Interaction. Take mobiles for instance, There we can see
loads of shapes, sizes and solutions that fits different interaction
styles, beyond the screen interface it self.

cheers,
Bernardo

On 20/10/2008, at 21:06 , Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> This all sounds like revisionism to me.
>
> As someone who's been practicing interface design for nearly 20
> years, I can tell you there's never been a time where what you folks
> describe as "interaction" was never a part of interface design as I
> practiced it. I understand I'm probably in the minority here about
> what I've been allowed to control and design in my career, but what
> irks me the most is how the IxD community is taking over a term, and
> in doing so, negating certain skill sets in the process. It all
> feels as bad as the decision by some to call folks "user experience
> designers."
>
> It's always been about what the designer is expected to know and do
> in their day to day work. Again, I don't care if in 20 years I'm
> called an interaction designer, but the expectation better be that I
> get accountability and control over the design of the interaction,
> the visuals, and the information, along with the ability to budget
> and pay for coding and building real prototypes.
>
> --
> Andrei Herasimchuk
>
> Principal, Involution Studios
> innovating the digital world
>
> e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
> c. +1 408 306 6422
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> 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

20 Oct 2008 - 3:55pm
Dan Saffer
2003

Interface design is the physical manifestation of the interaction
design. They are typically intertwined.

As to why I think interface design is a subset of interaction design,
it is because interface design without the underlying interaction is
graphic design. You can, however, have interaction design without any
interface at all, although it is unlikely.

Dan

Dan Saffer
Principal, Kicker Studio
http://www.kickerstudio.com
http://www.odannyboy.com

20 Oct 2008 - 4:05pm
Jeff Howard
2004

Hi Tahsin,

We discuss this question every now and then without resolving it.
Here's the most recent attempt:

Difference between user interface and interaction design?
http://www.ixda.org/discuss.php?post=25077

// jeff

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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20 Oct 2008 - 4:14pm
Andy Polaine
2008

Dan - I nearly said the same about it being a subset, but I'm not sure
it's true (which is why I like your Venn diagram).

I'll be interested to see what you have to say in Designing Gestural
Interfaces because its there that you start to get interaction without
an interface, at least not one that is visible. The two-diagonally-
separating-fingers gesture for zooming up a photo, for example, isn't
an interface at all. It's an action/interaction with the content,
content that also has no other sign or symbol of itself either if it's
a photo taken with, say, the iPhone's built-in camera.

> Interface design is the physical manifestation of the interaction
> design. They are typically intertwined.
>
> As to why I think interface design is a subset of interaction
> design, it is because interface design without the underlying
> interaction is graphic design. You can, however, have interaction
> design without any interface at all, although it is unlikely.

Best,

Andy

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
Andy Polaine

Research | Writing | Strategy
Interaction Concept Design
Education Futures

Twitter: apolaine
Skype: apolaine

http://playpen.polaine.com
http://www.designersreviewofbooks.com
http://www.omnium.net.au
http://www.antirom.com
::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

20 Oct 2008 - 4:15pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Oct 20, 2008, at 1:55 PM, Dan Saffer wrote:

> As to why I think interface design is a subset of interaction
> design, it is because interface design without the underlying
> interaction is graphic design. You can, however, have interaction
> design without any interface at all, although it is unlikely.

So then I have to ask: what is interface design without the underlying
visuals or graphic design?

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

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

20 Oct 2008 - 4:18pm
stauciuc
2006

Best post in this thread, if you ask me :)

...But it seems we never get tired of it, somehow.

Sebi

On Mon, Oct 20, 2008 at 11:05 PM, Jeff Howard <id at howardesign.com> wrote:

> Hi Tahsin,
>
> We discuss this question every now and then without resolving it.
> Here's the most recent attempt:
>
> Difference between user interface and interaction design?
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss.php?post=25077
>
> // jeff
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=34525
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> 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
>

--
Sergiu Sebastian Tauciuc
http://www.sergiutauciuc.ro/en/

20 Oct 2008 - 4:21pm
Andy Polaine
2008

> So then I have to ask: what is interface design without the
> underlying visuals or graphic design?

Ask a blind person using screen reader. Interface is more than visual
surely?

20 Oct 2008 - 4:37pm
Dan Saffer
2003

On Oct 20, 2008, at 2:15 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> On Oct 20, 2008, at 1:55 PM, Dan Saffer wrote:
>
>> As to why I think interface design is a subset of interaction
>> design, it is because interface design without the underlying
>> interaction is graphic design. You can, however, have interaction
>> design without any interface at all, although it is unlikely.
>
> So then I have to ask: what is interface design without the
> underlying visuals or graphic design?

Not sure I understand the question. Almost all traditional interfaces
are visual in nature, although there are voice interfaces that are all
sound. And there are interfaces that are purely industrial design, and
I'm not sure something like a blinking LED is graphic design per se.

If you meant to ask what is interaction design without visuals, there
are many examples of sound, haptic, and mechanical responses that are
triggered by human action that are controlled by digital systems and
thus have interaction design but not visual design, involved.

Dan

20 Oct 2008 - 4:43pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Oct 20, 2008, at 2:37 PM, Dan Saffer wrote:

> Not sure I understand the question.

You stated that interface design without the underlying interaction is
graphic design. I'm curious what you would then call interface design
with the underlying visual design. Would you call that interaction
design or something else?

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

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

20 Oct 2008 - 5:00pm
DampeS8N
2008

I have to disagree with others here. An interface designer could
design an interface for a non-visual product, but the general role of
interface design is of the interface, and how it functions, and not
the whole of the product, and how it acts.

And interface designer would design how the telephone person will
sound, how they might phrase things, What order the items in a
section might be in, perhaps even what each section of the tree will
be.

But the skill set of an interface designer doesn't normally include
the tools to tell the company that wants this device that they are
better off having a better online FAQ system, a better designed
product that requires less tech support in the first place, and a
simple telephone system with fewer options, that after those options
moves to a live person quickly. Answer the most pressing questions
that make sense to use a telephone interface, but don't withhold
human contact. The expense of real people will be offset by the
quality of their advice if their own systems are designed so they can
quickly answer questions.

In other words, the end user wants to talk to a real person unless
they are seeking the most simple of rote tasks, such as getting the
location of a package verbally after saying a tracking number.

In all other cases is it better to talk to a seemingly knowledgeable
real person.

Onstar does a good job at this.

So, An interface designer can design the best ever telephone system
for a company, that does the best possible job of what it can do.
While the interaction designer tells the company that the best course
of action is for the system to do less, be easier to understand, and
to give the user what they want.

Will

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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20 Oct 2008 - 5:00pm
Dan Saffer
2003

On Oct 20, 2008, at 2:43 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> On Oct 20, 2008, at 2:37 PM, Dan Saffer wrote:
>
>> Not sure I understand the question.
>
> You stated that interface design without the underlying interaction
> is graphic design. I'm curious what you would then call interface
> design with the underlying visual design. Would you call that
> interaction design or something else?

Traditional interface design doesn't exist without visual design. In
my mind, it exists in the overlap between interaction and graphic
design. Removing the visual aspect, you are likely doing another kind
of design (interaction, sound, industrial). Remove the interaction
(behavior) aspect and only leaving the visual, you are doing graphic
design.

It could be argued that any physical/sensory layer, be it sound,
physical controls/form, haptics, or visuals, placed on top of a layer
of digital behavior, is interface design as well.

Dan

20 Oct 2008 - 6:14pm
DampeS8N
2008

Saying that things not traditionally thought of as interactive are
certainly not, is dangerous. True, people rarely design the
interaction a band has with the audience, but it is becoming more
common.

One can argue that this is interaction design as well.

As I have said in the past, locking ourselves into digital projects
is a bad idea. Our philosophies directly apply to all interaction,
and as meat and microchips meld, they won't be so easy to draw lines
through anymore.

Imagine a day when the lines on the highway are purely saint Elmo's
fire in our brains, controlled ultimately by a connection of computers
in the map of the street, where ever it comes from, our car, and our
own head.

Whole streets can change direction at different times of the day, new
traffic lights can be erected or their time altered without ever going
to those locations. Even suggested route alterations could be
presented directly in out field of vision. Perhaps even more
subliminally than that.

So where in this melange of different systems is the interaction
design? It is everywhere. Because road planning and signage theory,
and all of this are also a form of interaction design.

In fact, interface design is also a form of interaction design, and
so is graphic design, and abstract expressionism and so many other
things. The difference is the Interaction Designer knows a good bit
about all of these types of interaction, and while their core
competency might be Abstract Expressionism, an Interaction Designer
will not try to solve a problem Abstract Expressionism isn't suited
to fix. They will either learn a new competency or point the person
who requires the product in the right direction.

Interface Designers will always try to solve a problem with an
interface, and by that I mean the interfaces they are familiar with,
which is normally computer GUI. If they are a web Interface Designer,
they will solve a problem with a web interface.

Meanwhile, an interaction designer will solve a problem by finding
the right kind of interfaces and interactions to solve the problem.

Which means, if a new hand-held device that hospital professionals
need to carry at all times, which is synced with the hospital via
Wifi, and will call out like a pager when someone nearby has an
emergency, and can automatically call your team in when the system
tracks that it is required, is what it needed, that is what they will
say is needed. Even if the company thought they needed to create a
desktop app that runs on wired carts that people wheel around the
hospital.

IxDs are the inventors of the computer age. They see a tool that is
needed and are equipped to design something to fit that need.

Will

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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20 Oct 2008 - 6:48pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Will, that's a very expansive definition. I'm afraid if you go
there, you just end up on that slippery slop that everything is
design. And if you zoom out far enough, yup you end up there. All the
points are human interaction points. Every symbol & bit of white space
in a graphic is a moment to interact at some level with a human being
by eliciting emotion or other response. By putting a sign up that
says "Sale" am I not hoping to elicit a behavior of an impulse
purchase. By your definitions then it is all interaction design.

Let's face it words fail us. They are imprecise, but we must bring
meaning to them and we must figure out where that meaning begins and
ends. These meanings also evolve over time. So far, I have heard
several entymologies in this thread for interface > interaction
design, but none of those actually connect to the coining of the term
which more precisely comes from industrial designers use of the term
and later co-opted by software designers mainly b/c industrial
designers didn't want to deal with it except in very small
audiences. But that isn't the point either b/c the history of the
terms as we've seen is so convoluted.

What is important to me and I hope to others are 3 things:
1) what do we do in practice?
2) how do we teach future practitioners?
3) how can we evaluate the work?

For me #1 is a mixed bag. There are people like Andrei who control
the entire experience as a single designer and there are people like
me who work more compartmentalized and collaboratively with with
other experts (currently industrial designers, but also graphic
designers) and always with technologists. I'm sure is a continuum
here. But the fact that they can be separated. (Like in children's
books the story writer and the illustrator are often separate people
but there are the Boyton and Sendacks of the world as well.Yes, I'm
the father of a toddler.)

#2 This is my new thing (well new old, but now my new focus). To me
you most certainly have to have different courses for the frames and
the skins. 1 there is 1 frame and there are many different skins. To
translate, there is one behavioral design, but there are many crafts
that can wrap around that behavior (visual, audio, gestural,
industrial, architectural, etc.). This by itself means that from an
education stand point we must separate out interaction from interface
(or form), but they also must be conjoined in that same education
process otherwise as noted above they become quite meaningless.

#3 is another new biggie for me. (its amazing how the threads are
coming together.) We are ok at evaluating 2 things so far in
interface design: function (i.e. usability) and visual aesthetics &
legibility. What we don't have is an understanding of the aesthetics
of motion, interaction, and other behaviors. Is there beauty here? Are
there qualities outside of "usability" in this space. I certainly
think so, but I also know they are derived holistically so onion
skinning the pieces is intricate and probably bordering on navel
gazing at a certain level.

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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20 Oct 2008 - 11:49am
tahsin
2008

I think I really started wondering about the question because there are many
approaches to software development that incorporate the strategies the
Interaction Design discussions here have taken.

I think in researching this question, the real answer comes from the
approach you take to (in my case) software development. I believe users
needs in terms of how the interact with the software are just as important
as how they interact with the data, so having an "Interaction Designer" is
really just a software designer who focuses on requirements from a
visual/user interaction perspective. The important thing is that I believe
all web applications/web pages to be software, even if there is no input or
output.

An "Interface Designer" is more likely to be, as I have seen mentioned,
someone who comes in later in the process to design screens after
requirements have been gathered.

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of David
Malouf
Sent: Monday, October 20, 2008 9:36 AM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Interface Design vs Interaction Design

To be honest, there may or may not be any difference at all at the
level of practice. One term has gained more traction as it has moved
away from GUI software design where UI has been prevelant and has
been encompassing systems design and hardware interface design as
well as service design. In many ways, Interaction design is interface
design (but not graphical interface design). It is about the story
that is made up of moments of dialog between different interfacing
moments made complex through intelligent connections and
relationships.

To me Interaction Design is an evolution from Interface Design
historically.

Then academically I think Interaction Design is much more than
interface design in many ways. Interface Design really doesn't have
academic offerings outside of computer science that I have seen. The
closest are interactive design programs that are mostly either
computer arts programs or skills certification programs. But
Interaction Design especially in the European schools has built
itself out of the Industrial Design tradition of design education
that combines craft and thinking processes as well as a long history
of critique.

So your question can be answered in so many ways and most answers are
going to be skewed by a persons current context and their
community/geography connections to their practice and education. It
is basically evolving, but through IxDA and other efforts I would say
the direction is as I describe it above. But I'm sure others have
other thoughts.

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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________________________________________________________________
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20 Oct 2008 - 3:06pm
tahsin
2008

I think I really started wondering about the question because there
are many approaches to software development that incorporate the
strategies the Interaction Design discussions here have taken.

I think in researching this question, the real answer comes from the
approach you take to (in my case) software development. I believe
users needs in terms of how they interact with the software are just
as important as how they interact with the data, so having an
"Interaction Designer" is really just a software developer who
focuses on requirements from a visual/user interaction perspective.

An "Interface Designer" is more likely to be, as I have seen
mentioned, someone who comes in later in the process to design
screens after requirements have been gathered.

However, some may feel the term Interface Designer is sufficient
already, because an "interface" is any scope where a user interacts
with a device, so...

Interaction (what the user does with an interface) Design
vs
Interface (what the user uses to manipulate the device) Design

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=34525

20 Oct 2008 - 7:07pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Oct 20, 2008, at 4:14 PM, William Brall wrote:

> So where in this melange of different systems is the interaction
> design? It is everywhere. Because road planning and signage theory,
> and all of this are also a form of interaction design.

I am often accused of pushing my own experiences onto public
discussion of the definitions of certain things. But surely this is
even beyond what I'm accused of, is it not? Attempting to redefine
city planning and civil engineering as "interaction design?" This is
the kind of thing -- this broad attempt to make the ultimate umbrella
term -- is the very reason why "user experience" never worked.( What
is user experience? It's everything!) If something aims to be
everything, it's effectively meaningless for practical, day to day work.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

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

20 Oct 2008 - 8:19pm
Tim Wright
2008

I suspect that this is also what happened to plain old "usability". It got
applied to everything and as such has lost most of its meaning. I'm with
Andrei here - we need a decent defination or else interaction design risks
being a lost term. On ther other hand, I think "User Experiance Design" was
a lost term before it was devised and doesn't have any meaning anyway ;)

For me, interaction design is about determining the optimal interaction
between a person and a technology to help the person achieve their goals and
needs. To help model interactions I write use cases and link these back to
the goals in my user role (or Actor) description.

Tim

On Tue, Oct 21, 2008 at 1:07 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk <
aherasimchuk at involutionstudios.com> wrote:

> On Oct 20, 2008, at 4:14 PM, William Brall wrote:
>
> So where in this melange of different systems is the interaction
>> design? It is everywhere. Because road planning and signage theory,
>> and all of this are also a form of interaction design.
>>
>
> I am often accused of pushing my own experiences onto public discussion of
> the definitions of certain things. But surely this is even beyond what I'm
> accused of, is it not? Attempting to redefine city planning and civil
> engineering as "interaction design?" This is the kind of thing -- this broad
> attempt to make the ultimate umbrella term -- is the very reason why "user
> experience" never worked.( What is user experience? It's everything!) If
> something aims to be everything, it's effectively meaningless for practical,
> day to day work.
> --
> Kei te kōrero tiki au. Kei te kōrero tiki koe. Ka kōrero tiki tāua. Kōrero
> ai tiki tāua.
>

20 Oct 2008 - 8:36pm
Jarod Tang
2007

1. Different guys have different explanation on interaction/interface
design, some guys interface design may include interaction design.

2. But, from more than less literature, we can come up with a model
(simplified) like

People [with goal] <--> interaction <--> interface [of object's
function/features].

Interface design is more to the Object side, while interaction design
is more to the middle between people and object(or more to human
side). Let's imagine design a web site, interface is about design the
interface after how people use the site is defined, while interaction
design is about design how people use the site.

3. If as 2, the design process and methods, and evaluation points are
different ( but not totally different) for the two Ds, ( what's the
good , how to evaluate it's good , blahblah... )

Cheers,
-- Jarod

On Fri, Oct 17, 2008 at 8:12 PM, Tahsin Shamma <tshamma at ipswitch.com> wrote:
> Hi all, I'm new to this discussion group and have been a systems
> developer/web developer for quite a while. I only recently heard the term
> "Interaction Design" used to refer to those doing interface design.
>
>
>
> So, my question immediately was. what's the difference?
>
> ________________________________________________________________
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> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
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--
http://designforuse.blogspot.com/

20 Oct 2008 - 10:07pm
Kurt Krumme
2008

Well, somebody has to be unpopular...

I don't think there is a difference really, in that Interaction
Design IMHO is not long for this world as a stand-alone discipline.
There are many, many kinds of designers, from architects to interface
designers to interior designers. Any field of design needs to
consider the interaction of the viewer or the user, else who are we
designing for?

With the advent of web design, job titles got a little screwy.
Trying to keep up with who does what on a web team from company to
company is like playing whack-a-mole. At one place I'm a web
designer, at another I'm the IA, at another I'm the user experience
architect, yada, yada, yada.

I'm glad that there has been a push to bring web design's focus
back towards the practical considerations of interaction. That said
though, I don't think we'll be looking at Interaction Designers as a
separate practice in a few years, and academically I think it will
settle in as a sub-field within psychology, e.g. cognitive studies.

Just my opinion, I swear I'm not trolling!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=34525

20 Oct 2008 - 10:43pm
Jack L. Moffett
2005

Dave, I find it interesting that you believe we don't have an
understanding of these. While working on my masters degree at CMU, I
took Dan Boyarski's course titled "Time, Motion, and Communication".
The aesthetics of motion and time have been an integrated part of my
training. There are many theatrical aspects that can be applied to
interaction design.

As for the aesthetics of interaction, I could list a number of
projects that dealt quite tangibly with this. One in particular comes
to mind. Chris Pacione taught Visual Interface Design, and one of his
early projects was to design a simple square that communicated a
single action to the user, such as "push me" or "don't touch me".
There was much beauty shown at the end of that project in the form of
simplistic, intuitive, and effective communication.

Best,
Jack

On Oct 20, 2008, at 12:48 PM, David Malouf wrote:

> What we don't have is an understanding of the aesthetics
> of motion, interaction, and other behaviors. Is there beauty here? Are
> there qualities outside of "usability" in this space.

Jack L. Moffett
Interaction Designer
inmedius
412.459.0310 x219
http://www.inmedius.com

To design is much more than simply
to assemble, to order, or even to edit;
it is to add value and meaning,
to illuminate, to simplify, to clarify,
to modify, to dignify, to dramatize,
to persuade, and perhaps even to amuse.

- Paul Rand

20 Oct 2008 - 11:27pm
Robert Reimann
2003

The definition of IxD I currently favor is:

A design approach that seeks to harmonize the behaviors of products,
environments, and systems with the behaviors of target users, in order to
produce optimal outcomes.

As in previous definitions I've proposed, form is a means of manifesting,
supporting, or reflecting behavior and thus also a concern of IxD, but
secondary to the behavior itself. Optimal outcomes may include not only the
immediate experience of users, but short, medium and long term outcomes for
both users and anyone / anything affected by the design.

To me what makes IxD important as an approach (if not a discipline in its
own right) is its unique focus on behavior (and the aesthetics thereof)
rather than form. In practice, as others have stated, there is not much
difference between the terms "interface design" and IxD, except that
"interface" as a term is not very explicit about the medium of exchange
between human and artifact being behavior, whereas IxD highlights this fact.
I therefore feel it is a more appropriately descriptive term that cuts to
the chase of the design activity involved. "Interface" design also implies
the design of a control surface (and the term comes from an era when
relatively unsophisticated GUIs were slapped on top of piles of code), while
interaction clearly reaches far beneath the surface to define the entire
purpose of a product or service. A matter of semantics? Perhaps, but
sometimes semantics are important if they can bring clarity to the task at
hand.

Robert.

Robert Reimann
IxDA Seattle

Associate Creative Director
frog design
Seattle, WA

On Mon, Oct 20, 2008 at 8:07 PM, Kurt <krumme at gmail.com> wrote:

> Well, somebody has to be unpopular...
>
> I don't think there is a difference really, in that Interaction
> Design IMHO is not long for this world as a stand-alone discipline.
> There are many, many kinds of designers, from architects to interface
> designers to interior designers. Any field of design needs to
> consider the interaction of the viewer or the user, else who are we
> designing for?
>
> With the advent of web design, job titles got a little screwy.
> Trying to keep up with who does what on a web team from company to
> company is like playing whack-a-mole. At one place I'm a web
> designer, at another I'm the IA, at another I'm the user experience
> architect, yada, yada, yada.
>
> I'm glad that there has been a push to bring web design's focus
> back towards the practical considerations of interaction. That said
> though, I don't think we'll be looking at Interaction Designers as a
> separate practice in a few years, and academically I think it will
> settle in as a sub-field within psychology, e.g. cognitive studies.
>
> Just my opinion, I swear I'm not trolling!
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=34525
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> 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
>

21 Oct 2008 - 1:55am
Andy Polaine
2008

> People [with goal] <--> interaction <--> interface [of object's
> function/features].

I was about to say that the problem with trying to find a single
definition is that it will necessarily have too many clear boundaries.
Really it's a continuum, and I think Jarod's example there is pretty
good. Continuum's allow for overlap and how you interpret anything on
it depends on where you are standing on it.

I'm saying this, by the way, as someone writing their PhD on
interactivity and trying to find and build definitions in it. Sigh. I
don't particularly agree that someone needs a goal to drive the
interaction, not an explicit one at least. A lot of what I've written
about and done in the past has been about play and playful discovery
in interaction, both in an arts context as well as an approach to
interaction design. Play is much more open and not necessarily goal-
based (and when it is, it's a game instead).

Much as I would like to be able to explain to my mum what I've done
for the last 15 years, I think we're still a way off something as
clear as "a carpenter".

Best,

Andy

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
Andy Polaine

Research | Writing | Strategy
Interaction Concept Design
Education Futures

Twitter: apolaine
Skype: apolaine

http://playpen.polaine.com
http://www.designersreviewofbooks.com
http://www.omnium.net.au
http://www.antirom.com
::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

21 Oct 2008 - 3:01am
Jarod Tang
2007

Hi Andy,

> I'm saying this, by the way, as someone writing their PhD on interactivity
> and trying to find and build definitions in it. Sigh. I don't particularly
> agree that someone needs a goal to drive the interaction, not an explicit
> one at least. A lot of what I've written about and done in the past has been
> about play and playful discovery in interaction, both in an arts context as
> well as an approach to interaction design. Play is much more open and not
> necessarily goal-based (and when it is, it's a game instead).

That's the great point. Maybe motivation( for needs) is better than
goal for the people side. And, maslow's motivation theory
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hierarchy_of_needs) fits well at this
place.

Cheers,
-- Jarod

--
http://designforuse.blogspot.com/

21 Oct 2008 - 3:57am
Tim Wright
2008

Aaah. Maslow's hierarchy of needs. I was reading some psychology recently
and it turns out that there is no hierarchy - that is, you don't need to
satisfy the lower levels in order to satisfy the higher levels. I just wish
I could remember the book I was reading that cited this! (although Wikipedia
does mention some of the anti-heirarchy research at the bottom of the
article).

Tim

On Tue, Oct 21, 2008 at 9:01 PM, Jarod Tang <jarod.tang at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi Andy,
>
> > I'm saying this, by the way, as someone writing their PhD on
> interactivity
> > and trying to find and build definitions in it. Sigh. I don't
> particularly
> > agree that someone needs a goal to drive the interaction, not an explicit
> > one at least. A lot of what I've written about and done in the past has
> been
> > about play and playful discovery in interaction, both in an arts context
> as
> > well as an approach to interaction design. Play is much more open and not
> > necessarily goal-based (and when it is, it's a game instead).
>
> That's the great point. Maybe motivation( for needs) is better than
> goal for the people side. And, maslow's motivation theory
> (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hierarchy_of_needs) fits well at this
> place.
>
> Cheers,
> -- Jarod
>
> --
> http://designforuse.blogspot.com/
> ________________________________________________________________
> 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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>

--
Kei te kōrero tiki au. Kei te kōrero tiki koe. Ka kōrero tiki tāua. Kōrero
ai tiki tāua.

21 Oct 2008 - 6:35am
Dave Malouf
2005

Hi Jack,
And how many practitioners have taken Daniel Boyarski's course? How
has that course been made manifest in the great part of practice?

I think it is one thing to say that there is a theory put out there
like Jonas' Pliability, but quite another to say that that same
theory has reached the arena of practice and is well understood by
that community of practice.

I think as a community of practice we are far from understanding what
Daniel Boyarski is teaching. It is not spoken about here on this list,
nor is it spoken in the hallways at our conferences.

We need WAY more programs in IxD (ooo! I'm about to do that) at the
masters level that are teaching the types of theory and converting
them to practice that you are mentioning. They also need to be
brought into the "continuing ed" universe where at this point they
are almost non-existent as we as a community of practice have been
frightened away from theoretical in favor of the practical when it
comes to these events. This means that these ideas get closeted to a
select few, never getting aired out and applied in wider use.

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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21 Oct 2008 - 9:53am
Jack L. Moffett
2005

On Oct 21, 2008, at 12:35 AM, David Malouf wrote:

> Hi Jack,
> And how many practitioners have taken Daniel Boyarski's course? How
> has that course been made manifest in the great part of practice?
>
> I think it is one thing to say that there is a theory put out there
> like Jonas' Pliability, but quite another to say that that same
> theory has reached the arena of practice and is well understood by
> that community of practice.
>
> I think as a community of practice we are far from understanding what
> Daniel Boyarski is teaching. It is not spoken about here on this list,
> nor is it spoken in the hallways at our conferences.

I suppose you are right. I realize that the practitioners with
graduate degrees make up a minority. There are a number of CMU
graduates involved in IxDA, and I would expect that other graduate
programs have courses with similar content. So, why don't we have more
discussions about these qualities of IxD? I suppose it is thought of
as being less practical to the practitioner who is trying to get a
product out the door and in need of quick and dirty usability testing
methods or a solution for a particular type of form interaction. And I
guess that's what you're getting at.

On the other hand, the influence of design for entertainment is
becoming a popular topic, and involves many of the "softer" pieces of
IxD.

As far as conferences go, for those of you that were selecting
speakers for Interaction 09, what percentage of the submissions were
more academic/theoretical/artistic, and how were they received in
comparison to the more practical submissions? Looking back on it now,
I recognize that I was trying to write a proposal that was solidly on
the practical side, expecting that to be better received. Of course,
these days, I'm very much down in the trenches myself, so that wasn't
a difficult path to take. Was any effort taken to balance the
practical and theoretical with the invited speakers?

And, how would a more balanced conference change the number and type
of attendees? We have complained quite a bit about the overly academic
bent of CHI.

> We need WAY more programs in IxD (ooo! I'm about to do that) at the
> masters level that are teaching the types of theory and converting
> them to practice that you are mentioning. They also need to be
> brought into the "continuing ed" universe where at this point they
> are almost non-existent as we as a community of practice have been
> frightened away from theoretical in favor of the practical when it
> comes to these events. This means that these ideas get closeted to a
> select few, never getting aired out and applied in wider use.

Agreed (and I'm excited for you!). But I know there are a lot of
intelligent people on this list that would enjoy discussing higher
order topics. Perhaps we all need to make an effort to occasionally
broach them.

Best,
Jack

Jack L. Moffett
Interaction Designer
inmedius
412.459.0310 x219
http://www.inmedius.com

Charles Eames was asked the question,
"What are the boundaries of design?"

He answered,

"What are the boundaries of problems?"

- Charles Eames

20 Oct 2008 - 12:58pm
Tim Wright
2008

Hi everyone,

I conceive interface design as a combination of visual design (if it is a
visual interface), interaction design, and information design (or IA) and
some other skills. Although they are deeply intertwingled, and some people
might disagree, I see visual design as the part of UI design that lets
people quickly and easily understand and start using an interface,
Information design as the part of design that lets people navigate to
information they need, and interaction design as focusing on the needs and
tasks and goals of the users and ensuring that the functionality is easily
guessable (or intuitive or usable or...).

Tim

On Tue, Oct 21, 2008 at 5:36 AM, David Malouf <dave at ixda.org> wrote:

> To be honest, there may or may not be any difference at all at the
> level of practice. One term has gained more traction as it has moved
> away from GUI software design where UI has been prevelant and has
> been encompassing systems design and hardware interface design as
> well as service design. In many ways, Interaction design is interface
> design (but not graphical interface design). It is about the story
> that is made up of moments of dialog between different interfacing
> moments made complex through intelligent connections and
> relationships.
>
> To me Interaction Design is an evolution from Interface Design
> historically.
>
> Then academically I think Interaction Design is much more than
> interface design in many ways. Interface Design really doesn't have
> academic offerings outside of computer science that I have seen. The
> closest are interactive design programs that are mostly either
> computer arts programs or skills certification programs. But
> Interaction Design especially in the European schools has built
> itself out of the Industrial Design tradition of design education
> that combines craft and thinking processes as well as a long history
> of critique.
>
> So your question can be answered in so many ways and most answers are
> going to be skewed by a persons current context and their
> community/geography connections to their practice and education. It
> is basically evolving, but through IxDA and other efforts I would say
> the direction is as I describe it above. But I'm sure others have
> other thoughts.
>
> -- dave
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=34525
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
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ai tiki tāua.

21 Oct 2008 - 3:17pm
james horgan
2008

Hi Tashin,
can of worms you opened there!
i would say it started with graphic design, then became interface
design as people got a better understanding of the UI process, then
became interaction design as people understood the business value of
a UI designer on board and the range of functions they serve on a
project expanded
Its a matter of choice, based on the clients expectations, or stage
of the project, ill flip my title around, but generally User
Experience Designer (UX Designer) covers it for me.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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21 Oct 2008 - 3:25pm
james horgan
2008

actually i wanted to add something to what i was writing as this
reminds me of the same problem i used to have as an industrial
designer. Whether to call myself an industrial or a product designer.
The actual difference is that industrial may have more engineering
involvement, while the product designer is a more high level thinker.
The choice came down to this: If im at a party, whats the optimal job
description i would tell someone who knew nothing about my area of
expertise. so product designer won the day. I will normally say
Interaction or User experience designer today because it makes most
sense to people and expresses the full range of what i do.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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21 Oct 2008 - 6:10pm
Anonymous

Jack,

I don't think you shirk away from your education. Just because I
have never seen or studied germs doesn't mean I should stop washing
my hands.

Yes, in some cases a disconnect exists between academic research and
general practice, probably in all fields, and probably especially in
one where holding a more advanced degree is not required.

However, the fact that practioners do not attempt to apply what
research they can, when it is appropriate and relevant, should not
diminish the value of that research. It may also be true that
academics should try to make more of an effort to get to know their
GP counterparts.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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21 Oct 2008 - 6:16pm
Anonymous

I agree with Will's argument that "interaction design", whatever
the final definition eventually comes out to be, can be more than
what we think of as a "standard" interface. In his description, I
did not see a civil engineer any more than I see in the description
of an interface/interaction designer a software engineer.

I'm not sure that I'm following the descriptions of what many of
the majority on this list are proposing as what it is that an
interaction designer does. The general examples seem to a bit
esoteric, while the practical descriptions seem to have more to do
with a person's level of autonomy and status at work than their
actual application of skills.

Rather than discuss what an interaction or interface designer is, why
not discuss what it is they are not.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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21 Oct 2008 - 10:41pm
Jack L. Moffett
2005

On Oct 21, 2008, at 3:51 PM, Russell Wilson wrote:

> Jack - do you have any examples of the project you mention? I'd be
> very interested in seeing them.

I don't have any examples from Chris' class, as he first conceived
that project the year after I had taken the class. I wish I did.
However, I borrowed the project for a class I taught a couple years
later. The results weren't quite as polished, as I was teaching
masters students in HCI, but there were some decent ones. I'll see if
I can dig them up. I have them on a CD around here somewhere.

Best,
Jack

Jack L. Moffett
Interaction Designer
inmedius
412.459.0310 x219
http://www.inmedius.com

If I'd have asked my customers what they wanted,
they would have told me "A faster horse."
- Henry Ford

Jack L. Moffett
Interaction Designer
inmedius
412.459.0310 x219
http://www.inmedius.com

Design is a process -
an intimate collaboration between
engineers, designers, and clients.

- Henry Dreyfuss

22 Oct 2008 - 4:46pm
Jason Pamental
2008

There certainly is a lot of crossover between this thread and the one
on 'What to teach interaction design students' - and the heart of both
topics seems to center around language and understanding. First,
needing to have a clearly articulated definition of the discipline and
it's relationship and differentiation from those related. That has
been explored well here and it's clear that it is a continuum - there
are some whose talents overlap ranging from theoretical to the
practical. (I love the author/illustrator analogy, and I'd add David
Macaulay to that list!) Think 'theory of interaction' on through
interface design, prototyping and the skills to actually develop the
site/application/device. It's a rare few that can competently do all
of those things, but there are certainly more who can do much and
direct the rest effectively. What Dave has brought up here and in the
other thread is a need to effectively critique the work - both by
students and I'd say also by practitioners 'out in the world'. In
developing the right language and vocabularies to effectively
critique, and therefore explain (!) the work. This is vital to the
education process and equally so in conveying the value and
effectiveness of work being done. In visual design there are more
known vocabularies for describing and evaluating design from an
aesthetic point of view. However in interface design (such as for the
web or a software application) there are additional concerns around
usability (affected by the interaction design), how well it solves
business objectives and how well/efficiently it can be produced. There
is beauty to be found in all - or perhaps at least elegance. The
vocabularies to describe a beautiful code solution versus a truly
elegant business solution versus a completely intuitive interaction
solution are all quite different from the set of words and phrases
applied when evaluating color, composition and 'visual tension' found
in a great piece of visual design (a painting, a print, a poster or a
software interface). In actuality some of the words may be the same,
but the theory and criteria with which they are applied is quite
different.

So I think that to answer either thread (what's the difference or what
to teach) we must first be able to describe and understand both what
is entailed in any of these disciplines and how one can describe
'success' in any of them. From there it's easier to say 'I'm an
interaction designer' or 'I'm an interface designer' or in someone
like Andrei's situation, I'd say that he's more than either in that he
may think of himself as an interaction designer primarily, but having
the ability to perform and/or direct what comes after (interface/
visual design and the actual prototyping and production of the end
product) is definitely a broader role. I think we all live in worlds
where it flows from Dave's situation of being surrounded by other
experts so he can focus solely on interaction design and others like
myself and other in this thread who by necessity or desire involve
themselves in other surrounding roles. It doesn't diminish the
importance of any one of them, but without the language to articulate
the differences and importance of the various distinct disciplines
then there will always be a danger of important tasks and roles being
eliminated from the world.

Cheers,

Jason

28 Oct 2008 - 1:58pm
milan
2005

hi,

On Tue, 2008-10-21 at 13:25 +0000, james horgan wrote:
> actually i wanted to add something to what i was writing as this
> reminds me of the same problem i used to have as an industrial
> designer. Whether to call myself an industrial or a product designer.

I solved my design education in Germany, where all traditional graphic
design courses were renamed to Kommunikationsdesign or Visuelle
Kommunikation (I think you can guess what these terms mean :)

most people that graduated with me call themselves communication
designers, because the abstract, high-level communication between viewer
and artifact is what's interesting about it, not making some nice
graphics, and because this opens the field to cover things like film,
web, signage, interface (haha) etc.
besides it was the name of the course.

despite of this development, graphic design is still far more known and
easier to understand. the discussion on interface vs interaction design
actually reminds me of graphic vs. communication design.

regarding terms like social interaction design, I think inventing names
for special areas of expertise is a natural way for an emerging
discipline. my counterpart example from communication design would be
editorial design.

milan
--
milan guenther * interaction design
||| | | |||| || |||||||| | || | ||

+33 6 67 11 13 83 * www.guenther.cx

28 Oct 2008 - 3:56pm
Krystal Higgins
2008

Further complicating things our workplace are our titles, such as
"interacTIVE designers"--the ones who do the visual interface
design--and "interacTION designers", who do more of the IA work,
testing, etc.

Ah, the need for buckets to put people into...

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=34525

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