Joel Spolsky claims the "Program Manager" role does UI design... ????

9 Mar 2009 - 2:42pm
5 years ago
69 replies
3460 reads
russwilson
2005

"Lacking a program manager, your garden-variety super-smart programmer is
going to come up with a completely baffling user interface that makes
perfect sense IF YOU'RE A VULCAN (cf. git). The best programmers are
notoriously brilliant, and have some trouble imagining what it must be like
not to be able to memorize 16 one-letter command line arguments. These
programmers then have a tendency to get attached to their first ideas,
especially when they've already written the code."

How to be a program manager
http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2009/03/09.html

What Geoffrey Moore, Donald Norman, Paul Graham, Heidi Roizen, Jennifer
Aaker, Michael Lopp, and Ryan Carson all have in common?

http://www.businessofsoftware.org/

--
Joel Spolsky
joel at joelonsoftware.com

Comments

9 Mar 2009 - 3:18pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Russell, Joel was trained in teh land of Redmond. In Redmond this was
totally true. the Program Manager was the UI designer, like in NYC
the Producer often has the role of UI Design or at least IA. I don't
think you should or can interpret Joel's words as saying that the PM
replaces the IxD or more traditional UI Designer role in the least.
Though I can see how today it can be seen like that.

- -dave

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9 Mar 2009 - 3:35pm
Jackson Fox
2006

First, I agree with Dave that you have to take Joel's lingo with a
pinch of MS salt from the 90s.

However, I have to say his comment that PMs (read designers) must
keep the developers happy lest they go off and do WTF they feel like
made me shudder. I've spent a lot of my career trying to help devs
and designers get along (I admit, having a CS degree helps), and part
of that effort was in helping each side recognize that both had
something to add to the conversation, and that both could be wrong.

Now here's Joel telling us that those gods in mortal flesh,
programmers, must be appeased, lest the design be cast aside. And
he's saying this is the RIGHT WAY for things to be.

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9 Mar 2009 - 5:20pm
Dan Saffer
2003

This is actually a pretty dangerous essay to our profession. To have
us cut out of the software development process by an influential
figure is really unfortunate. We should have some sort of response to
this.

Dan

9 Mar 2009 - 6:47pm
Mark Schraad
2006

So the theory is to cloak the designer as a program manager? Or did I
twist that a bit?

On Mar 9, 2009, at 3:42 PM, Russell Wilson wrote:

> "Lacking a program manager, your garden-variety super-smart
> programmer is
> going to come up with a completely baffling user interface that makes
> perfect sense IF YOU'RE A VULCAN (cf. git). The best programmers are
> notoriously brilliant, and have some trouble imagining what it must
> be like
> not to be able to memorize 16 one-letter command line arguments. These
> programmers then have a tendency to get attached to their first ideas,
> especially when they've already written the code."
>
> How to be a program manager
> http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2009/03/09.html
>
> What Geoffrey Moore, Donald Norman, Paul Graham, Heidi Roizen,
> Jennifer
> Aaker, Michael Lopp, and Ryan Carson all have in common?
>
> http://www.businessofsoftware.org/
>
> --
> Joel Spolsky
> joel at joelonsoftware.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
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

9 Mar 2009 - 6:50pm
Susan Stuart
2009

Perhaps Don Norman will set him straight?

I see Spolsky is based in NYC. It's an attitude I've run into here
more than once during my cultural transition of moving from the
silicon valley 1.5 years ago. Yet our discipline is somehow still
"hot" here and there are never enough qualified senior people.
Believe me, it's had me stumped. Have been thinking of going into
process consulting/ teaching just to educate the community here.

--
www.light-motif.com

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9 Mar 2009 - 6:54pm
usabilitycounts
2008

I've been a program manager.

Why do you see this as a threat? I see this as another opportunity.

And UX people should know a bit about programming, so they know what
they're designing into.

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9 Mar 2009 - 7:02pm
russwilson
2005

That's what I understood his point to be

Sent from my iPhone

On Mar 9, 2009, at 6:47 PM, mark schraad <mschraad at gmail.com> wrote:

> So the theory is to cloak the designer as a program manager? Or did
> I twist that a bit?
>
>
> On Mar 9, 2009, at 3:42 PM, Russell Wilson wrote:
>
>> "Lacking a program manager, your garden-variety super-smart
>> programmer is
>> going to come up with a completely baffling user interface that makes
>> perfect sense IF YOU'RE A VULCAN (cf. git). The best programmers are
>> notoriously brilliant, and have some trouble imagining what it must
>> be like
>> not to be able to memorize 16 one-letter command line arguments.
>> These
>> programmers then have a tendency to get attached to their first
>> ideas,
>> especially when they've already written the code."
>>
>> How to be a program manager
>> http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2009/03/09.html
>>
>> What Geoffrey Moore, Donald Norman, Paul Graham, Heidi Roizen,
>> Jennifer
>> Aaker, Michael Lopp, and Ryan Carson all have in common?
>>
>> http://www.businessofsoftware.org/
>>
>> --
>> Joel Spolsky
>> joel at joelonsoftware.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
>> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

9 Mar 2009 - 7:38pm
Todd Warfel
2003

Well, if you've seen the UI for FogBugz, then I guess that shows you
what kind of a UI a Program Manager can design.

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
President, Design Researcher
Messagefirst | Designing Information. Beautifully.
----------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (215) 825-7423
Email: todd at messagefirst.com
AIM: twarfel at mac.com
Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
Twitter: zakiwarfel
----------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

9 Mar 2009 - 8:02pm
usabilitycounts
2008

"Well, if you've seen the UI for FogBugz, then I guess that shows
you what kind of a UI a Program Manager can design. "

You mean a profitable product?

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9 Mar 2009 - 9:26pm
russwilson
2005

@Dan - I completely agree. Very frustrating for someone who spends a
lot of time evangelizing the value of good design.

@Patrick - I'm not threatened at all, and I started out as a
programmer (BS and MS) - and still code when I can - just wrote some
javascript as a matter of fact. But what Joel says is like saying
"just have the building contractor or structural engineer due the
architectural renderings"... It's complete BS and undermines the
value and need for skilled designers. And unfortunately his voice is
widely heard. Btw - how do you see this as an opportunity?

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9 Mar 2009 - 11:36pm
usabilitycounts
2008

Since you asked, this is how I see it as an opportunity (pretty much
the best once since the invention of sliced bread):

While we're all trying to figure out what our titles are (and
that's our damn fault, politics and posturing in our community be
damned), Joel defined an ADDITIONAL position for us that includes all
the most important goals of what we're supposed to do anyways, and
it's literally 60 percent of the job (the other 20 percent being a
pure fashion choice).

So he defined 75 PERCENT of the job relating to UX, the rest to
communication, is what we're supposed to be good at anyways. And
that job, with manager in it's title, pays very well (more than a
typical IA position), and relates directly to ROI of the product,
even more so than a product manager position. I've had THAT EXACT
JOB TITLE, and it rocks. I did it totally from a UX standpoint.

(Raise your hands if you can say the same.)

But wait, THERE'S MORE.

Not only did he do that, but he defined the ratio of program managers
to developers, which is very important, because, well, most of the
projects we work on have like one IA to 80 developers. He placed it
close to that magical 25 percent UX, 50 percent development, 25
percent QA ratio, and let me tell you, in an agile environment, that
ratio is MAGICAL.

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!

He defined functional requirements IN SOME FORM as important. They
could be wireframes. They could be use cases. They could be written
on butcher paper. But he defined them as HAVING VALUE IN THE SOFTWARE
DEVELOPMENT PROCESS. (Can you say the same about XP or Scrum?)

- He didn't say that an MBA should have that responsibility.
- He didn't say that a programmer should have that responsibility.
- He said, quote "an advocate for the users should have that
responsibility."

He also said...

"The number one mistake most companies make is having the manager of
the programmers writing the specs and designing the product. This is a
mistake because the design does not get a fair trial, and is not born
out of conflict and debate, so it%u2019s not as good as it could be.

SNIP

...both sides, but especially the program manager, need to be
emotionally detached from the debate and willing to consider new
evidence and change their opinions when the facts merit it.

SNIP

Functional specifications are so important one of the few hard and
fast rules at Fog Creek is %u201CNo Code Without Spec.%u201D
"

He said he even learned from his own mistakes at his own company, and
restructured the role so it would be more effective.

I do disagree that anyone out of college can do the UX part; and
it's up to us to convince him otherwise than complaining about it
here (and I'm going to write to him personally). And there's the
opportunity -- letting him know the value.

On the other hand, we have to respect his opinion.

He runs a very profitable company, larger than most of the people on
the group, has the respect of his peers (I can't tell you how many
times the developers suggested FogBugz over TFS because of it's ease
of use for simplified bug tracking), has a great product line, and
sold more books than anyone else on this list, I would guess.

He also has a farther reach into the software community than all of
us put together.

It would be better for us to reach out to him and state our case and
build bridges, right?

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9 Mar 2009 - 11:41pm
Audrey Crane
2009

I thought his comment about specs was heartening in a world where I'm
seeing more developers perceiving design and planning as anti-agile:

Functional specifications are so important one of the few hard and
fast rules at Fog Creek is %u201CNo Code Without Spec.%u201D

If spec=design, as it seems to with his reference to storyboards and
functional descriptions, it's good to have a heavy-hitter like Joel
in your corner when you're having one of those conversations with
eng.

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10 Mar 2009 - 1:22am
Andrew Boyd
2008

On Tue, Mar 10, 2009 at 6:42 AM, Russell Wilson <russ.wilson at gmail.com> wrote:
> "Lacking a program manager, your garden-variety super-smart programmer is
> going to come up with a completely baffling user interface that makes
> perfect sense IF YOU'RE A VULCAN (cf. git). The best programmers are
> notoriously brilliant, and have some trouble imagining what it must be like
> not to be able to memorize 16 one-letter command line arguments. These
> programmers then have a tendency to get attached to their first ideas,
> especially when they've already written the code."

Hi Russell,

I think that there's some circular logic at work in the interpretation here.

"Lacking a program manager" means without a program manager (to me, at least)
"your ... programmer is going to come up with a completely baffling
user interface" means what it says, i.e. that Spolsky is saying that
the coder will screw up the UI. While this isn't always the case, it
happens often enough that there is some truth to it.

My interpretation is this - in the absence of a program manager, the
UI will be left to the coder, who may screw it up. And I agree with
this. Anyone not with me so far?

I am not sure that this infers in any way, shape, or form that the
program manager will be designing the UI. What it does mean, and
logicians feel free to shoot me down here, is that in the presence of
a program manager, someone other than the coder will design the UI. It
does not specifically state that this will not be an IxD, UxD, IA, or
janitor.

The absence of a thing does not denote the presence of its opposite.

Best regards, Andrew

--
---
Andrew Boyd
http://uxaustralia.com.au -- UX Australia Conference Canberra 2009
http://uxbookclub.org -- connect, read, discuss
http://govux.org -- the government user experience forum
http://resilientnationaustralia.org Resilient Nation Australia

9 Mar 2009 - 7:32pm
Christopher Rider
2009

I believe it's important, particularly in the current über-cost-conscious
climate, to think of IxD as a discipline, rather than a job description.

Depending on the mix of talents, personalities and experience in a software
organization, it may or may not be necessary to have a full-time interaction
designer. A lot of very worthwhile software projects are designed, built and
managed by a single person. That person is "doing" interaction design
whether they know it or not. This has its most obvious reflection in the
progress the Agile movement has made in the last few years. Agile makes a
lot of sense to the bean-counters, because it allows small teams to deliver
(more-or-less) functional software really quickly.

The challenge for people like us will lie in finding ways to insert
ourselves into these processes. Not only to keep putting bread on the table,
but to make sure that we don't see another generation of really awful
software. For a lot of us, that's going to mean we have to either get our
hands dirty and start coding, or else ease up on the reigns and let the
developers think they're running things. Because, let's face it. Without an
interaction designer, you end up with bad software. Without a developer, you
end up with no software at all!

There. I think I used my one-exclamation-point-per-message pretty well,
don't you?

On Mon, Mar 9, 2009 at 5:02 PM, Russell Wilson <russ.wilson at gmail.com>wrote:

> That's what I understood his point to be
>
> Sent from my iPhone
>
>
> On Mar 9, 2009, at 6:47 PM, mark schraad <mschraad at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> So the theory is to cloak the designer as a program manager? Or did I
>> twist that a bit?
>>
>>
>> On Mar 9, 2009, at 3:42 PM, Russell Wilson wrote:
>>
>> "Lacking a program manager, your garden-variety super-smart programmer is
>>> going to come up with a completely baffling user interface that makes
>>> perfect sense IF YOU'RE A VULCAN (cf. git). The best programmers are
>>> notoriously brilliant, and have some trouble imagining what it must be
>>> like
>>> not to be able to memorize 16 one-letter command line arguments. These
>>> programmers then have a tendency to get attached to their first ideas,
>>> especially when they've already written the code."
>>>
>>> How to be a program manager
>>> http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2009/03/09.html
>>>
>>> What Geoffrey Moore, Donald Norman, Paul Graham, Heidi Roizen, Jennifer
>>> Aaker, Michael Lopp, and Ryan Carson all have in common?
>>>
>>> http://www.businessofsoftware.org/
>>>
>>> --
>>> Joel Spolsky
>>> joel at joelonsoftware.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
>>> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>>>
>>
>> ________________________________________________________________
> 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
>

10 Mar 2009 - 3:56am
Eirik Midttun
2009

Does Joel know about IxD? Because a year ago, I didn't. I did a
Google search: "interaction design" site:joelonsoftware.com
The hits on the first 2 pages are from the discussion pages, and
there was one on jobs. If Patrick writes him we could hope for an
article soon.

I personally don't see any problem design done by a someone with the
job title "Program Manager". So in many ways I agree with Joel. My
worry is that it depends a lot on the individual. With the wrong PM
the UX is neglected, done improperly, and without adaquate knowledge
or training.

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10 Mar 2009 - 4:22am
usabilitycounts
2008

Already wrote him.

Wrote a post:

http://www.usabilitycounts.com/2009/03/09/the-program-manager-and-how-getting-ux-into-software-way-we-can-is-good/

Look, not all software organizations can support an IA, a UX
designer, whatever. That takes a larger software project, and for the
vast majority of UX people, they would just be happy working with a
SECOND UX person in the same organization.

Most of the work out there is in agencies or in contract, so anywhere
we can get extra positions (mostly UX with some project management) is
good. While it's not a job title, it is a discipline, and our good
that we can educate and get better software produced.

>From THIS website:

"...the IxDA network actively focuses on interaction design issues
for the practitioner, no matter his or her level of experience."

Doesn't that include anyone that wants to learn?

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10 Mar 2009 - 4:33am
Andy Polaine
2008

I think the principle is sound, the practice as he describes it sounds
a bit political.

Years ago I used to call myself an Interactive Director in order to
make the distinction that I was there managing the interactive
experience as the third pillar of Creative/Art Director and Technical
Director. The title never caught on, but the discipline did.

My main beef with Joel's piece is that he's talking about a role
that interaction and user experience design covers and pinning an
outdated title on it to... well, I don't really know why. To write a
blog post? To try and sell a new idea? To sell himself?

He's not really saying anything new. The reason projects don't have
a Program Manager is because they're called something else these
days.

For what it's worth, I think Excel has and continues to have an
awful UI and FogBugz looks like Word.

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10 Mar 2009 - 5:39am
nuritps
2010

I generally agree with Patrick.
I think the title can work for us. I do believe that when you design
you are actually responsible, more than others for the product
success, so the program manager title is better than interaction
designer or user experience, etc. I like the full responsibility it
gives us. It also brings us closer to the "business plate"
(Andrew!) which means more influence (and usually more money).

On the other hand, his view regarding user interface design is
outdated and..mmm... well not serious. The job description is quite
cool but IxD as a discipline description is very poor.

We should try to turn this to our advantage, I think it is possible.
Maybe write on Joel%u2019s discussion board? (Hopefully someone more
articulate than me...)
Nurit

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10 Mar 2009 - 7:40am
Todd Warfel
2003

And how is a Program Manager not going to screw up the UI? Unless they
have some design training or skills, they're no less likely to screw
it up than a programmer, who at least understands the technology.

On Mar 10, 2009, at 2:22 AM, Andrew Boyd wrote:

> My interpretation is this - in the absence of a program manager, the
> UI will be left to the coder, who may screw it up. And I agree with
> this. Anyone not with me so far?

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
Principal Design Researcher
Messagefirst | Designing Information. Beautifully.
----------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (215) 825-7423
Email: todd at messagefirst.com
AIM: twarfel at mac.com
Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
Twitter: zakiwarfel
----------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

10 Mar 2009 - 7:48am
SemanticWill
2007

Unless they have started teaching design, hci, interaction design,
information architecture and/or usability analysis in Project/Program
management undergrad and grad schools these days, I am completely
dumbfounded.

Oh - wait

There are no schools in Program Management, just certificate programs
and industry continuing education.

Oh - and wait - there are no classes in any of the above mentioned
disciplines in the curricula of those continuing ed/certificate
programs.

Seems like a great idea - let's take a role that necessarily has had
no need for or training in the most applicable disciplines necessary
for the successful experience design or interaction design and empower
them to make all those design decisions. Sounds fantastic to me!

~ will

"Where you innovate, how you innovate,
and what you innovate are design problems"

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Will Evans | User Experience Architect
tel: +1.617.281.1281 | will at semanticfoundry.com
http://blog.semanticfoundry.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/semanticwill
aim: semanticwill
gtalk: semanticwill
twitter: semanticwill
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

On Mar 10, 2009, at 8:40 AM, Todd Zaki Warfel wrote:

> And how is a Program Manager not going to screw up the UI? Unless
> they have some design training or skills, they're no less likely to
> screw it up than a programmer, who at least understands the
> technology.
>
> On Mar 10, 2009, at 2:22 AM, Andrew Boyd wrote:
>
>> My interpretation is this - in the absence of a program manager, the
>> UI will be left to the coder, who may screw it up. And I agree with
>> this. Anyone not with me so far?
>
>
> Cheers!
>
> Todd Zaki Warfel
> Principal Design Researcher
> Messagefirst | Designing Information. Beautifully.
> ----------------------------------
> Contact Info
> Voice: (215) 825-7423
> Email: todd at messagefirst.com
> AIM: twarfel at mac.com
> Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
> Twitter: zakiwarfel
> ----------------------------------
> In theory, theory and practice are the same.
> In practice, they are not.
>
>
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> 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

10 Mar 2009 - 8:33am
Todd Warfel
2003

What happens when Program Managers design the UI? Well, it doesn't
appear to work or look much different than a good programmer designing
one: http://media.fogcreek.com/fogcreek.com/FogBugz/60movie/60movie.html

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
Principal Design Researcher
Messagefirst | Designing Information. Beautifully.
----------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (215) 825-7423
Email: todd at messagefirst.com
AIM: twarfel at mac.com
Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
Twitter: zakiwarfel
----------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

10 Mar 2009 - 9:49am
Susan Stuart
2009

I personally respect the PMs I work with way too much to think they
have time to create an elegant UI in addition to budgeting,
scheduling, coordinating, project tracking, client/ mgmt appeasing,
troops gathering, and all the assorted logistics. And do I want to do
that stuff?? I sometimes do project management on UX-only projects.
But for the larger, more complex stuff that I'm guessing most of us
work on here, when it includes managing a team of developers? No way.
(Especially when it involves using Excel ;) )

There is some overlap between our disciplines, yes--but then there is
overlap in EVERY discipline with ours.

I bristle when I read blanket statements such as the "vulcan"
comment about programmers' lack of ability to come up with good UX
ideas. Like everyone, they vary in their abilities.. so this kind of
generalization is not only untrue, but can only hurt the perception
of anyone in a UX role in its condescending tone, I believe. A good
UX designer accepts input from the entire team--PMs, programmers,
visual designers, writers, marketing, management, etc, etc.

--

www.light-motif.com

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10 Mar 2009 - 10:18am
Jackson Fox
2006

@Will First, Program Managers and Project Managers are different
beasts (usually).

@Patrick Amen.

I don't care what Joel calls the job, though I'd prefer he
recognize that design is something that requires training as much as
programming does. He comes from MS, and MS has Program Managers.
They've got designers now too, but I suspect there were a lot fewer
when Joel in the Excel 5.0 days. So, Joel writes about Program
Managers. The way he describes the job sounds very familiar to what
I've done in much of my career.

It surprises me that this discussion has focused so much on *what* he
calls the job, then the relationship he describes between designers
and developers.

Of course, when programmers are peers of the program managers, the
programmers tend to have the upper hand. Here%u2019s something that
has happened several times: a programmer asks me to intervene in some
debate he is having with a program manager.

%u201CWho is going to write the code?%u201D I asked.

%u201CI am%u2026%u201D

%u201COK, who checks things into source control?%u201D

%u201CMe, I guess, %u2026%u201D

%u201CSo what%u2019s the problem, exactly?%u201D I asked. %u201CYou
have absolute control over the state of each and every bit in the
final product. What else do you need? A tiara?%u201D

And yes, Fog Bugz is ugly and kind of hard to use.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=39701

10 Mar 2009 - 10:19am
nuritps
2010

Well... of course without the right education / training in UX / IxD,
the job can't be done, whatever the title is...

But with adequate knowledge and experience this is actually a good
title. I also like the idea that this person should not report to the
CTO, I see it in many companies and I think it is wrong.
The issue of title and hierarchy may seem insignificant when you are
a consultant but it does affect your ability to do your job when you
are part of the team.

This is not in any way a comment about IxD content, means or
training, which are of course very important, and Joel list miss that
totally. But a few of the ideas there are good and may help some of us
in our own backyard.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=39701

10 Mar 2009 - 10:20am
Jackson Fox
2006

Yuck. Here's the quote again:

(From the article)

Of course, when programmers are peers of the program managers, the
programmers tend to have the upper hand. Here%u2019s something that
has happened several times: a programmer asks me to intervene in some
debate he is having with a program manager.

"Who is going to write the code?" I asked.

"I am..."

"OK, who checks things into source control?"

"Me, I guess, ..."

"So what%u2019s the problem, exactly?" I asked. "You have absolute
control over the state of each and every bit in the final product.
What else do you need? A tiara?"

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=39701

10 Mar 2009 - 10:54am
russwilson
2005

I really wish I had the time to read the responses in detail (way too
busy today!)... but from snippets:

1) Program Manager as a title is both outdated and nebulous. I
don't know any two people who would agree on what a program manager
does. If you want to move more into the business side, go with
Product Manager.

2) The implication that "anyone can design" (and I may be
misinterpreting... please tell me I'm misinterpreting) - that a
program manager (or developer or product manager or janitor...) can
"learn" UI design and perform that function in addition to their
other responsibilities/skills GROSSLY devalues the knowledge,
experience, and training required to perform "good" design (notice
the term "good"). No offense to Steve Krug, he is a friend, but
reading his book does not make you a designer... just like picking up
a copy of "A Pattern Language" doesn't make me an architect.

3) I consider myself a design evangelist. I created my role (VP of
Product Design) at my current company and have done so at other
companies as well. I encounter skepticism, confusion, and
misunderstanding regarding the value, role, and skills associated
with "good" design all the time... but what's shocking is to see
these same things on this very list, what I consider my "safe
place"... what does this say about user interface / interaction
design? Am I fighting a losing battle? We can't even make up our
own minds? To see people say things like "let's just call
ourselves program managers", ready to jump ship after one article,
is maybe a sign of frustration, uncertainty, ??

Crud... must run...

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=39701

10 Mar 2009 - 10:59am
russwilson
2005

@Jason
"It surprises me that this discussion has focused so much on what he
calls the job, then the relationship he describes between designers
and developers."

Why is that surprising??? We (us, the industry, etc.) have to agree
on a name for our role. Without it we lack credibility and it makes
it very difficult for the simple things like job hunting, etc. You
know what an architect does. You know what a dentist does. When I
hire people my HR dept (and we're a 300 company) can't decide what
their payscale should be because they have no good data or
understanding about what usability / user interface designers do!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=39701

10 Mar 2009 - 11:06am
usabilitycounts
2008

- Regarding the look and feel of FogBugz (or say what you want to say
about it...)

- It's profitable
- It's a great product ... I've used it
- It hits its target audience very well

I don't know about you, but that's successful UX to me.

- Regarding programmers as gatekeepers

He's exactly right. Programmers, because of where they sit in the
development process, are gatekeepers and have quite a bit of control
over the product. And if they tune out the program manager and build
something that, well, sucks, it's going to show.

Smart programmers will realize this and work as a team, because
flipping the bozo doesn't legitimize their answer of, "well, I
decided to write it my way." Smart company management will say,
"sure" are fire them, because that affects the bottom line.

Does this happen alot? No. But I've seen it happen in good
companies.

- Regarding the program management job title

Okay, let's change the job title to ice cream specialist.

Joel's looking for someone for the job title for ice cream
specialist, and this ice cream specialist has to have five years of
user experience, uh, experience. They are going to be managing the
process of developing software product. They call people who do user
experience design ice cream specialists. And they have to be able to
build wireframes and functional requirements in some form.

Sounds like IX/UX to me.

If it pertains to your experience, and you're getting paid to do the
work you live, does it matter what the job title is?

The reason Joel calls them that is because of the culture he's
worked in. Microsoft had program managers as part of the process, and
it worked because they were able to find people to play the role.
Sure, some of their products sucked (BOB), but for Joel, a program
manager was the perfect role because they were able to build cool
Excel macros which the target audience was able to use.
Or...effective UX.

We get so frustrated with how UX/IX is not respected, and think there
should be UX/IX titles in there, yet we never seek to understand the
politics and/or structure of the company to figure who's doing the
UX/IX, regardless of title or department.

The reality is, IAs do the work, BAs do the work, Web Designers (god
forbid, sometimes with their lack of understanding of taxonomies) do
the work. The important thing is SOMEONE is doing UX/IX work, and
they are doing it with SOME kind of process that represents a UX/IX
process. That means doing personas (or not), wireframes (or not),
ethnographic studies (or not).

Personally, I could really care less what the job title is in the
end.

What I do care about is SOMEWHERE in the job description, there's a
like that says, "requires 5 to 10 years of information architecture
experience". If it says that, we've done our job.

---

I saw one of the recaps of IXDA. One of the speakers had a great
point: if we can't agree on a job title in front of HR, people will
do it FOR us. This is just one example.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=39701

10 Mar 2009 - 8:18am
Hienadz Drahun
2009

I think that Joel is touching a much more important problem.

The problem is: who is responsible for conceptual design of a
product?

On my experience about 60% of design decisions are done when we have
not defined UI at all.

There is a need for a mixed BA/UX type person, what ever we call it:
'Program Manager', 'Product Manager' or 'Project Leader'... The
one who owns the holistic view on the product. This person can either
have BA roots (which is more common) or UX roots.

Such people do not necessary substitute UX or BA professionals. They
are working together being responsible for more conceptual things
leaving details to the specialists.

http://boxesandarrows.com/view/transitioning-from
http://www.boxesandarrows.com/view/bringing-holistic

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=39701

10 Mar 2009 - 12:04pm
Todd Warfel
2003

It's not targeted at you directly, but rather a real question, which
is how is a program manager any less likely to screw up the UI?

On Mar 10, 2009, at 12:40 PM, Andrew Boyd wrote:

> Read the rest of my original response. At no time do I advocate that
> the program manager should have anything to do with the design.
>
> This thread started with an incomplete quote, and this tradition
> seems to be continuing :)

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
Principal Design Researcher
Messagefirst | Designing Information. Beautifully.
----------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (215) 825-7423
Email: todd at messagefirst.com
AIM: twarfel at mac.com
Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
Twitter: zakiwarfel
----------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

10 Mar 2009 - 12:11pm
DrWex
2006

On Tue, Mar 10, 2009 at 1:04 PM, Todd Zaki Warfel <lists at toddwarfel.com> wrote:
> It's not targeted at you directly, but rather a real question, which is how
> is a program manager any less likely to screw up the UI?

If you mean "less likely than a developer" then you didn't read the
article. In the column, Joel emphasizes the importance of this person
(ignore job title for now) communicating with users, communicating
across teams, and encoding the understandings gained from those
experiences into a document that emphasizes function without being too
tied to any methods by which the function is implemented. He also
explicitly refers to things like user testing.

I just don't know (m)any programmers who have those things as their
primary responsibilities; do you?

I do believe that an emphasis on those things is statistically more
likely to produce better design, and I'm betting you believe the same
thing, no?

Best,
--Alan

10 Mar 2009 - 12:19pm
AlinutzaV
2009

That's the case in what I do: I'm a product manager that does UI
design. It woks beautifully!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=39701

10 Mar 2009 - 12:40pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Mar 10, 2009, at 8:59 AM, Russell Wilson wrote:

> Why is that surprising??? We (us, the industry, etc.) have to agree
> on a name for our role.

Agreed.

This contains two pieces:

1) A formal name, which has been beaten to death (by me of course).
But too many people still think is a non-issue when it's obviously
been one for at least two decades. I still claim "interface designer"
is far more appropriate for the *software* medium, which will also
include pretty much everything that requires code and a screen as its
end product. I'm not concerned with IxD as it pertains to industrial
design or general product design or systems design. However, if
"interaction designer" is going to be the term and that term is going
to be pushed onto the software world and shared by other industries,
it has to stick. The HR people need something to stick, and we do too.

2) What the role does. This is actually more important.

I got derided at IxDA for making the claim that "interaction"
designers need to learn how to draw. I still found that reaction to be
the most telling moment of the conference and where this community
stands in the year 2009. (Which is, still not far along as some think
is or wish it was) Some agree with me, many vehemently seem to oppose
the notion for reasons I have yet to get.

Well, it's 2009. Saffer said it as well, Time to wake up.

If the title in the software world is going to be called "interaction
design" then that person needs to know these hard skills:

* Understand type, color and layout composition/grid and can execute
on those design fundamentals with their own two hands
* Know the fundamentals of I/O and behavior with hardware (like a
mouse and keyboard, and now with multi-touch displays)
* Understand how algorithms, code, frameworks, databases and other
software engineering aspects of the product work under the hood
* Draw and sketch with real pen, pencil and paper
* Use professional software tools to make design and process
deliverables (specs, mockups, wireframes, posters, etc)
* Use professional creative software tools to make production ready,
final assets that ship in the release build
* Write code at the HTML, CSS and JavaScript/ActionScript level to
build prototypes; more is always better
* Create an interface architecture and strategy that can be coded and
built within schedule constraints
* Write specs and documentation

There are a variety of softer skills needed as well:

* Communicate product vision
* Conduct or lead research team with customers
* Be the customer/use advocate and expert
* Communicate with managers, directors and executives about the state
of the project
* [Insert a few of your own here]

Without these skills, the Joel Spolsky's of the world will continue to
do what they do and claim someone else does your job, because in the
end the person they are looking for to help them design their software
is what I listed above. And they are right to do so quite frankly.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Chief Design Officer, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

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

10 Mar 2009 - 12:59pm
Eirik Midttun
2009

Hmm, on second view at the sight there is a lot of user interface
stuff under "Software Designer". Even IxD stuff.

In that respect it looks more like the Ix designer role is split
between PM and SD, rather than PM replaces IxD, in Joel's world.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=39701

10 Mar 2009 - 1:32pm
Todd Warfel
2003

On Mar 10, 2009, at 1:11 PM, Alan Wexelblat wrote:

> I just don't know (m)any programmers who have those things as their
> primary responsibilities; do you?
>
> I do believe that an emphasis on those things is statistically more
> likely to produce better design, and I'm betting you believe the
> same thing, no?

I read the article.

These activities are things that any designer, developer, or manager
can do.

I do believe they increase the likelihood for success.

Most program managers I know aren't trained in design, which is where
the real difference comes in for making better designs.

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
Principal Design Researcher
Messagefirst | Designing Information. Beautifully.
----------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (215) 825-7423
Email: todd at messagefirst.com
AIM: twarfel at mac.com
Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
Twitter: zakiwarfel
----------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

10 Mar 2009 - 1:42pm
Dave Malouf
2005

i'm with Andrei here.

If we are talking about our practice and in the realm of software, I
think you should call yourself a "software designer" or an
"interface designer". The more I dive into ID the more I realize
that the designer's job is to make a final appearance model. if you
aren't doing that, then you are just a middle man, and middlemen are
just too expendable.

Now!!! I want to add that this is completely different than the
"discipline" of Interaction Design. The discipline has a very
discreet identity from UI and ID and Architecture, etc. It works with
all of these and between them. It is a collection of theories and
methods that can be applied horizontally across
mediums/technologies/contexts.

BUT! if we are talking about software, then heck, you are a UI
Designer or a Software Designer. Ya know about 15 years ago or so
there was a group called the Software Design Alliance or some such
with peeps like Cooper & Kapor deeply involved. it didn't go
anywhere at the time, but I think it was just bad timing on their
part. IxDA is basically that Org, IMHO re-born in a new generation.

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=39701

10 Mar 2009 - 7:35pm
usabilitycounts
2008

Andrei's requirements:

I can perform most of those tasks to about a 90 percent level (don't
even ask me to do high level actionscript though). But, as a person
who has hired for UX positions, the requirements described there are
impossible to hit in any one person, except for the lucky few (a few
on this list).

In fact, in my time of building a team of 25, I would have found
exactly one person that could have fulfilled those requirements, and
that would have been me.

We need to have realistic expectations for who fills the roles and
what they can do, otherwise we fail in front of our software
development peers. For example, we wouldn't expect a software
developer to be an expert DBA and an expert in system administration
while being a rockstar coder. They exist, but not in the levels
needed to support what was just mentioned. And, to the benefit of
software developers everywhere, team managers divide up the roles
logically because they have figured out how to make the divisions.

And that's the crux of this argument and probably why we struggle
with the role. While some of us can do many of the different tasks
and roles, expecting the whole IX/UX community to be able is not
achievable. We don't like to be put into a box, but we have to so we
fit within team structures.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=39701

10 Mar 2009 - 8:29pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Mar 10, 2009, at 5:35 PM, Patrick Neeman wrote:

> We need to have realistic expectations for who fills the roles and
> what they can do, otherwise we fail in front of our software
> development peers.

I disagree at a tactical level. We need to have *unrealistic*
expectations and understand that as a profession, we aren't doing
enough to train and get ourselves to a baseline so the Spolsky's of
the world stop redefining our jobs for us. We haven't done enough for
our peers and those coming through the education system to the level
required. If we continue to make excuses or lower our expectations for
why we don't have people to do the things I've listed, we simply won't
get there.

And yes, these things take time. But to the next generation, most of
it will be second nature since it will be expected fro the get go. And
yes it means you won't find people with all of the skills but you also
have to tell people when you hire them they will be expected to learn
more and learn more fast if they want to keep the job later on.

> And that's the crux of this argument and probably why we struggle
> with the role. While some of us can do many of the different tasks
> and roles, expecting the whole IX/UX community to be able is not
> achievable. We don't like to be put into a box, but we have to so we
> fit within team structures.

It is achievable. In fact, more of the younger designers out there are
far on their way with the hard skills I've listed, especially with
regard to scripting HTML, CSS and JS/AS.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Chief Design Officer, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

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

10 Mar 2009 - 9:12pm
Mark Schraad
2006

In my life I have met handful of people who could be a candidate for
such a role. As a hiring manager or owner I could spend all of my
time looking - and frankly, there many other tasks worthy of this
time. To put this sort requirement out there as a standard would be
irresponsible. It is also an aspiration that I can only think is
rooted in the struggle to think through the required tasks of an
assignment and assemble the appropriate team to match.

Obviously quality of the work is not addressed in this list... but to
have these skills at a high level... is very tough. And frankly,
there is not enough time in the work week to keep this many skill set
sharp. I'll take a balanced crew of professionals that have 3/5s of
these skill, but greater ability in in just a few places any time.

Mark

On Mar 10, 2009, at 1:40 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> * Understand type, color and layout composition/grid and can
> execute on those design fundamentals with their own two hands
> * Know the fundamentals of I/O and behavior with hardware (like a
> mouse and keyboard, and now with multi-touch displays)
> * Understand how algorithms, code, frameworks, databases and other
> software engineering aspects of the product work under the hood
> * Draw and sketch with real pen, pencil and paper
> * Use professional software tools to make design and process
> deliverables (specs, mockups, wireframes, posters, etc)
> * Use professional creative software tools to make production
> ready, final assets that ship in the release build
> * Write code at the HTML, CSS and JavaScript/ActionScript level to
> build prototypes; more is always better
> * Create an interface architecture and strategy that can be coded
> and built within schedule constraints
> * Write specs and documentation
>
> There are a variety of softer skills needed as well:
>
> * Communicate product vision
> * Conduct or lead research team with customers
> * Be the customer/use advocate and expert
> * Communicate with managers, directors and executives about the
> state of the project
> * [Insert a few of your own here]

10 Mar 2009 - 9:40pm
ambroselittle
2008

There's a ton of talk about good design on this list (and in articles and
books and...). What I'd really like to see is with every discounting of
software that other people have built (which happens a lot here, it seems),
an offering of an example in the same space (e.g., in this case, bug
tracking software) that exemplifies what you think is great (or at least
better)--and is preferably something you (the person doing the criticizing)
have had a hand in.
Fogbugz. Yes, not the most elegant solution; however, it is so much better
than many (if not all--I haven't looked lately) others in that space. And
it does, as Patrick said, resonate with the target audience.

Program manager (a.k.a., product manager outside of MS circles) is not the
same as a project manager. I would actually recommend product/program
manager as a role to UX folks. Why? Because the PM essentially owns the
product (or piece of product) and specifies what does and doesn't get built
and, if he/she doesn't have a dedicated designer, can also spec how it
works. If you do have designers, you still have a lot of say there. So
you're more empowered to ensure that the end product is good.

Finally, I think Joel probably is not trying to denigrate the value of
design but just has his own understanding and perspective on it based on his
experience. He writes from his experience/opinion, not from research. If
he were exposed to good designers doing good work and saw the value, I'm
pretty sure he'd write about it. What I imagine, though, is he wouldn't
take well to a lot of feather fluffing in the design community (as would
most software dev types).

In any case, I see what he wrote as a baby step forward--helping devs to
recognize that they're not best equipped to do UI design.. and even just
helping them realize that it is an important aspect that requires special
attention (which many devs discount or just don't get). Baby steps..

10 Mar 2009 - 11:23pm
Todd Warfel
2003

On Mar 10, 2009, at 10:40 PM, J. Ambrose Little wrote:

> What I'd really like to see is with every discounting of software
> that other people have built (which happens a lot here, it seems),
> an offering of an example in the same space (e.g., in this case, bug
> tracking software) that exemplifies what you think is great (or at
> least better)

I don't see it being that much better, visually, than Bugzilla,
Mantis, or Trac.

Better:
Axosoft http://www.axosoft.com/
Trac http://trac.edgewall.org/
TrackIt http://www.numarasoftware.com/ctash.asp?src=google&trm=trackit

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
President, Design Researcher
Messagefirst | Designing Information. Beautifully.
----------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (215) 825-7423
Email: todd at messagefirst.com
AIM: twarfel at mac.com
Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
Twitter: zakiwarfel
----------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

11 Mar 2009 - 12:20am
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Mar 10, 2009, at 7:12 PM, mark schraad wrote:

> In my life I have met handful of people who could be a candidate for
> such a role. As a hiring manager or owner I could spend all of my
> time looking - and frankly, there many other tasks worthy of this
> time. To put this sort requirement out there as a standard would be
> irresponsible.

Irresponsible?

Hardly. And for what its worth, the hard skills I list are being
acquired daily by the new crop of digital designers emerging who have
a much different context of what they grew up with with regard to
technology. Knowing how to use Photoshop, Illustrator/Fireworks,
Microsoft Word, InDesign, Visio, and all of the rest are variations on
a theme, so complaining about how to learn software when your job is
to design software seems to me a contradiction.

After that, learning how to script HTML, CSS and JavaScript is the
most basic form of scripting that anyone who spends a little time
doing can pick up well within a year's timeframe, and yields a massive
amount of control in how well you can build and design your software.

Irresponsible?

The skills I laid out are a fraction of what lawyers, doctors and
architects are expected to learn and know. A fraction. Industrial
designers are expected to know more than the skills I laid out.

Further, there are people in Silicon Valley who get paid $120K a year
to draw Visio wireframe diagrams all day long. $120K... to draw Visio
diagrams.

Irresponsible?

Are you kidding me?

Seriously... I have no idea why some of you say or think these things.
The skills I laid out are not impossible nor excessive. Further, they
are precisely the skills that make one a designer who can controls the
fate of the work they design, as opposed to someone who simply tells
people what to build and hopes at the end of the day "they" get it
right.

Learning those skills, mastering those skills, it's also why the job
is *fun*. You get to *make* things with the skills I laid out. Why
wouldn't you *want* to pick them up?

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Chief Design Officer, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

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

11 Mar 2009 - 1:47am
usabilitycounts
2008

SNIP

I don't see it being that much better, visually, than Bugzilla,
Mantis, or Trac.

Better:
Axosoft http://www.axosoft.com/
Trac http://trac.edgewall.org/
TrackIt http://www.numarasoftware.com/ctash.asp?src=google
&trm=trackit

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel

SNIP

...have you used it in a project?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=39701

10 Mar 2009 - 9:37pm
Kate Vander Ploeg
2008

"Henceforth, a program manager would:
1. DESIGN UI'S
2. Write functional specs
3. Coordinate teams
4. Serve as the customer advocate, and
5. Wear Banana Republic chinos"

@Andrew Joel's description sure sounds to me like he was discounting
the UI Designer. Otherwise....wouldn't he have mentioned us
somewhere? And if the Program Manager and Developer are peers, than I
imagine (if there is a UI Designer somewhere) it is beneath
them...which I don't much fancy.

On the one hand I take Joel's article as completely ridiculous. on
the other, if I cross out "Program Manager" and add "UI Designer"
it suddenly looks alot better, and I find myself identifying with the
role for the most part and even taking notes...

Some of the important points in the upcoming article "How to be a UI
Designer" are:

- 1 to 4 ratio of UI Designers to Developers
- Work together a (IxD and Developers) and as peers
- Imperative need for UI Designers to have knowledge of some coding
- Making sure IxD isn't left out of the planning process and merely
pulled in to gussy up the mess.
- Importance of not designing in a box: going to meetings, email
communication, and research to find out the needed info to make
informed designs.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=39701

11 Mar 2009 - 9:57am
ambroselittle
2008

On Wed, Mar 11, 2009 at 12:23 AM, Todd Zaki Warfel <lists at toddwarfel.com>wrote:

>
> On Mar 10, 2009, at 10:40 PM, J. Ambrose Little wrote:
>
> What I'd really like to see is with every discounting of software that
> other people have built (which happens a lot here, it seems), an offering of
> an example in the same space (e.g., in this case, bug
> tracking software) that exemplifies what you think is great (or at
> least better)
>
>
> I don't see it being that much better, visually, than Bugzilla, Mantis, or
> Trac.
>
> Better:
> Axosoft http://www.axosoft.com/
> Trac http://trac.edgewall.org/
> TrackIt http://www.numarasoftware.com/ctash.asp?src=google&trm=trackit
>
>
Thanks, Todd. So you're judging on visual design style, correct? (I guess
I didn't mention it but it begs the question that if you think something's
better, to point out what. :) )

Anyways, Fogbugz has been around for a long time. It had some innovations
that were, at least back then, pretty spot on in terms of better usability
(e.g., simplifying/minimizing # of fields in general and that are required,
one-owner workflow, which was controversial but really good, IMO, and being
able to just email to log a bug, to name a few). Most software in this
space was (is?) so bloated and tentacular that it becomes impossible for a
mere mortal to use without training and regular head-bludgeoning.

But I suppose this is a bit of a digression. My particular point here is
maybe to get us to be more constructive in criticism and help each other
learn from what we and others have *done*. Let's put some meat on the bones
and maybe even some skin in the game.

-a

11 Mar 2009 - 10:48am
Dave Malouf
2005

I want to jump in here again and support Andrei.

I have not even graduated from college peeps who can do most if not
everything that Andrei suggests and IxD should be able to do AND!!!
they can do a lot that Andrei doesn't suggest:
* Fabricate appearance models
* Do sketch models: 3D foam models
* Conduct Research: generative & evaluative
(i.e. be industrial designers as well)

Across the street from me is the Interactive & Game Design department
here. One of the top 5 in the country by some accounts and well, I
would say that they too can DO everything Andrei listed AND they have
the breadth of HCI/Usability/IA that is implicit in our requirements
as practitioners as well.

So I think an implicit part of Andrei's point is "watch your back"
b/c the people who are coming up the hill behind you, ARE going to be
able to do the multi-facetted work that some of you are claiming
isn't possible.

This is that point in our career building where we might be feeling
"age" trickle in on us. Some get around it by moving up the food
chain away from production into management or strategic value, but I
worry about the bulk of us who aren't taking Andrei seriously.

As for the people who can't find the employees. Please email me
offline and I'll send some 10 graduating seniors your way who all
can kick my ass as a production interaction designer and even teach
me a few things about design theory and research methods as well.

There is nothing as exciting as a motivated and passionate youthful
energized designer to knock your socks off. I've been humbled by my
students in so many ways.

Yes, they have a lot of to learn, but they know enough to know what
it is it means to go out and teach themselves.

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=39701

11 Mar 2009 - 11:31am
Chris Bernard
2007

I've had the opportunity to talk to a lot of new designers lately and have to echo strongly what Dave is saying. Design education is, for the first time in awhile, finally moving back to its roots a bit in making folks multifaceted and companies, for the first time in awhile, are starting to realize that hiring multifaceted folks makes a lot of sense. Apologies to all the early movers on this list that have been operating like this for awhile.

Chris Bernard
Microsoft
User Experience Evangelist
chris.bernard at microsoft.com
630.530.4208 Office
312.925.4095 Mobile

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of dave malouf
Sent: Wednesday, March 11, 2009 3:49 AM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Joel Spolsky claims the "Program Manager" role does UI design... ????

I want to jump in here again and support Andrei.

I have not even graduated from college peeps who can do most if not
everything that Andrei suggests and IxD should be able to do AND!!!
they can do a lot that Andrei doesn't suggest:
* Fabricate appearance models
* Do sketch models: 3D foam models
* Conduct Research: generative & evaluative
(i.e. be industrial designers as well)

Across the street from me is the Interactive & Game Design department
here. One of the top 5 in the country by some accounts and well, I
would say that they too can DO everything Andrei listed AND they have
the breadth of HCI/Usability/IA that is implicit in our requirements
as practitioners as well.

So I think an implicit part of Andrei's point is "watch your back"
b/c the people who are coming up the hill behind you, ARE going to be
able to do the multi-facetted work that some of you are claiming
isn't possible.

This is that point in our career building where we might be feeling
"age" trickle in on us. Some get around it by moving up the food
chain away from production into management or strategic value, but I
worry about the bulk of us who aren't taking Andrei seriously.

As for the people who can't find the employees. Please email me
offline and I'll send some 10 graduating seniors your way who all
can kick my ass as a production interaction designer and even teach
me a few things about design theory and research methods as well.

There is nothing as exciting as a motivated and passionate youthful
energized designer to knock your socks off. I've been humbled by my
students in so many ways.

Yes, they have a lot of to learn, but they know enough to know what
it is it means to go out and teach themselves.

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=39701

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11 Mar 2009 - 11:55am
russwilson
2005

I agree with Andrei and Dave - we should all broaden our skills, but
just as important, we MUST standardize our terminology! What's the
difference between (and how do you help an HR director understand the
difference between):

Interface Designer (my first choice)
Interaction Designer
User Experience Designer
Information Architect
Usability Engineer
Human Factors Engineer
...

How many different names are there for Product Manager?
Admittedly maybe a few for programming:
Software Engineer
Software Programmer

But still...

Our field is misunderstood and undervalued... and obviously from
comments on this list we ourselves are fractured. Some keep saying
not to get hung up on "names"... "it doesn't matter"... but it
DOES matter. We have to help educate others on the value and role of
good design.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=39701

11 Mar 2009 - 3:09pm
milan
2005

Chris,

agreed.

Designers (all of them, not only those working on digital products) have
to been savvy in business, technology, and human factors/psychology
thinking. The more broad the better. The separation between industrial
and communication design for example, was not there when the discipline
emerged at the Bauhaus in the 20s.

On the other side, there will always be need for specialists, such as

* 3D Designers
* Motion Designers

for IxD, that would mean

* Social Interaction Designers
* Workflow/Business IxDs
* Service IxDs
etc.

But design is an art of linking, bridging and connecting,
and thus not comparable to classic "knowledge" disciplines.

A deep knowledge in those other disciplines involved, be
it technical, user or business related, helps a lot!
And for IxD, technology is something essential.

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

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

11 Mar 2009 - 3:25pm
Mark Schraad
2006

I need designers to be familiar with:
business and revenue models
project and product management
SEO
action script
scalable front end development
back end development
database structures
site metrics
market research
usability studies

By familiar... I mean they have enough knowledge to work along side, have
indepth conversations and understand at a fairly deep level what these folks
are doing. In a pinch, they may need to lean over and help. I don't need
them to be experts in these area because I have folks that do this 50 and 60
hours a week... and do it very very well. Why would I have a designer do
this instead? It makes no sense.

Maybe that is the difference between working at a larger company with the
resources and expertise and a small design shop. I realize with smaller
staff you need folks to wear multiple hats.

Mark

On Wed, Mar 11, 2009 at 4:09 PM, Milan Guenther <milan at guenther.cx> wrote:

> Chris,
>
> agreed.
>
> Designers (all of them, not only those working on digital products) have
> to been savvy in business, technology, and human factors/psychology
> thinking. The more broad the better. The separation between industrial
> and communication design for example, was not there when the discipline
> emerged at the Bauhaus in the 20s.
>
> On the other side, there will always be need for specialists, such as
>
> * 3D Designers
> * Motion Designers
>
> for IxD, that would mean
>
> * Social Interaction Designers
> * Workflow/Business IxDs
> * Service IxDs
> etc.
>
> But design is an art of linking, bridging and connecting,
> and thus not comparable to classic "knowledge" disciplines.
>
> A deep knowledge in those other disciplines involved, be
> it technical, user or business related, helps a lot!
> And for IxD, technology is something essential.
>
> milan
> --
> milan guenther * interaction design
> ||| | | |||| || |||||||| | || | ||
>
> +33 6 67 11 13 83 * www.guenther.cx
>
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> 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
>

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