Getting Started

29 May 2009 - 10:36am
6 years ago
7 replies
912 reads
Brock G McClung

I am a graphic designer who wants to dive into interaction design. Are
there any resources that help build a solid foundation in the
understanding of IxD?


29 May 2009 - 2:07pm
Severin Brettmeister

Hi Brock,

I would start with "The Human Interface" (Jef Raskin), "About Face 3.0" (Alan Cooper) and "The Essential Guide to User Interface Design" (Galitz).

All the best,

29 May 2009 - 3:52pm
Susan Colodny

Alan Cooper's, "The Inmates are Running the Asylum," is also a good text.


29 May 2009 - 2:47pm

Hi Brock,
I am reading the "About Face 3.0 right now", It's very informative
and from what I've read a must read. I am also a Graphic Designer
with an Industrial Design background and am eager to embrace
interaction design. I have ordered some others to read that I have
heard a lot about. They are "Sketching User Experiences" by Bill
Buxton and "Designing Interactions" by Bill Moggridge.

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29 May 2009 - 5:19pm
Dave Wood

I agree with the above references. Some good contextual background
reading for graphic designers from visual communication perspective
can be found in the writings of Rick Poynor, Nico MacDonald, Simon
Heller, Bruinsma to name a few. No harm in reading about what graphic
designers shouldn't do. My background is illustration/graphics and I
am now researching a PhD in Interaction Design from a Visual
Communication perspective. I would also recommend reading writings by
Donald Norman, especially 'The Design of Everyday Things' (1998
edition) and Bill Moggridge's 'Designing Interactions'. On that
note too the section on John Maeda may inspire you to read 'Maeda on
Media'. He is a graphic designer and computer scientist. Finally
Gillian Campton-Smith is also influential. Once a graphic designer
herself she has a recommended reading list from her days at Ivrea. I
have archived this list on my research blog. You can visit it at
My blog may also suggest other resources too. Good luck, and remember
its all about the user and behaviour. :-)

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29 May 2009 - 7:57pm


I'm a graphic designer and I found Cooper's "Inmates" book
tremendously helpful. It's also a good read. About Face is extremely
comprehensive but a little overwhelming if you're just getting
started. Bill Buxton's book is a lot of fun for graphic designers
because he takes a "Big D" approach to design which I found very
liberating and inspirational.

As with most things, the best way to learn is by doing. If you
aren't able to get any paying IxD work yet, a good way to get your
hands dirty is to start redesigning the interfaces around you: your
microwave, your TV remote, your favorite web site, the checkout kiosk
at the supermarket. Combine this with reading and you'll start to get
a feel for the issues very quickly.

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30 May 2009 - 5:01am

Observing the User Experience and Designing for the Digital Age are 2
comprehensive and pragmatic books (more how to than conceptual). I
don't actually think they overlap that much.

My advice - don't be intimidated by IxD'ers who want to put you in a
"visual design" box. Graphic design is a great bg for IxD.


On May 29, 2009, at 9:36 AM, Brock G McClung wrote:

> I am a graphic designer who wants to dive into interaction design. Are
> there any resources that help build a solid foundation in the
> understanding of IxD?
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
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30 May 2009 - 7:03am

You post a wonderful question. In addition to all the posts above let
me suggest something a bit different. The most effective technique for
helping me learn IX and 'sharpen the saw' so to speak was to
actually walk through and develop sketches and other IX deliverables
for real world issues and put together formal deliverables. This
would not only help my confidence it greatly increased my ability to
communicate these solutions, which in my view is as important as any
wire frame or sketch.

I needed this supplement practice a number of years ago as my day job
did not afford me the opportunity to work on a broad range of

What I learned rather quickly is IX Design is like any other skill,
you have to put in the time and effort to improve. While I read
countless books and I find each book leads to a more formalized and
informed IX approach nothing replaces getting your hands dirty.

I suggest looking for IX Design firms who post case studies. Read
through them and develop your own solutions.

Below is a list of places you can start, but a great resource is this
site. Members will post their design challenges they are facing. It's
a great place to begin developing your IX voice and communicating
those solutions.

Cooper offers some nice case studies

Cooper offers a nice IX Design Exercise

Mozilla Labs Design Challenge

Hope this helps and welcome to the club!

Kind regards,


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