Do most interaction designers also deliver graphical design

10 May 2005 - 2:27pm
9 years ago
8 replies
700 reads
Mal
2005

Hi there,

I am in the early stages of a new product ( to create online 3D virtual
art galleries ) using a click and drag interface.

Think of it as similar to Powerpoint, instead of a new page you create a
new room, and pick it's template etc.

The design of the UI will be pretty graphical, and will incorporate some
real-time 3D aspects ( not just for previews ). For a view of the end
gallery, but with a lot more photo realism, see
http://www.candointeractive.com/investni ( NOTE: we are developing the
application, that creates this type of content )

As a software architect, I normally handle this myself ( this is also
due to the heavy prototyping nature of the application, and the
relatively short timescale... if a UI has been designed for a feature
that isn't possible to be implemented in the predicted manner, then it
needs to be updated = additional cost if that part is outsourced )

Back onto topic, when you guys deliver your part of the interaction, do
you typically also get invovled with the design aspects? I am assume
that a large part of your backgrounds would be in design.

Regards...
Mal

BTW I've just had to re-sent this, who is the UI designer in charge of
the list who hasn't set up the reply-to to reply to the list! Sort of
ironic :)

Comments

10 May 2005 - 2:47pm
Dave Malouf
2005

> BTW I've just had to re-sent this, who is the UI designer in charge of
> the list who hasn't set up the reply-to to reply to the list! Sort of
> ironic :)

This is actually done on purpose, not on accident. The reason being is that
it reduces the signal to noise ratio, by getting people to think about who
they should really be replying to. (your friendly neighborhood list
administrator ... Welcome!!!

On 5/10/05 3:27 PM, "Mal" <mal at candomultimedia.com> wrote:

> Back onto topic, when you guys deliver your part of the interaction, do
> you typically also get invovled with the design aspects? I am assume
> that a large part of your backgrounds would be in design.

I assume when you say "design" aspects you mean the presentation design, or
the visual design.

For myself, I either do the visual layer myself (when resources are short),
or I have a good partnership with someone who is a good visual designer.
Usually a good visual designer and myself will be partners on the projects I
work on, if ideal.

But in general, Interaction Design is a design discipline in and of itself.
It is creative, and interaction has an aesthetic value of its own outside of
the presentation layer, but a close partner to it.

-- dave

David Heller
http://synapticburn.com/
http://ixdg.org
dave at ixdg.org
dave at synapticburn.com
AIM: bolinhanyc || Y!: dave_ux || MSN: hippiefunk at hotmail.com

10 May 2005 - 3:15pm
Ryan Nichols
2005

> Back onto topic, when you guys deliver your part of the interaction,
> do you typically also get invovled with the design aspects? I am
> assume that a large part of your backgrounds would be in design.
>
> Regards...
> Mal
>
I provide both visual design and interaction design, and as a consultant
I'm usually providing both. (I would love to work solely as a IXD on
occasion though). I think that as an IXD some level of partnership
should be necessary. Visual designers may design things, that unknown to
them, change to meaning of the page, or confuse the interaction. I have
hunch that in some companies visual design could be pigeon holed into
nothing more than plastering on color and typography to wireframes. That
is sad, because ultimately I think the two are married at the hip, and
when working as close partners, you'll get the best product.

Ryan Nichols
Apples To Oranges
http://www.apples-to-oranges.com

11 May 2005 - 4:20pm
Jim Leftwich
2004

Dave's quote below is a good example of a very American View Toward
Design - that is, "let's get it divided up into as many specialties as
possible." The reductionist urge to specialize infects nearly every
aspect of American culture, and I'll just come right out and say that
it's one of our biggest hindrances to deep innovation.

Design as I was taught, included the entire spectrum from typography,
graphic design, corporate identity, signage, communication, media,
products, materials, environments, and systems, which is a much more
traditional European approach to Design education - Design as a whole,
not a group of ever-dividing specialities. If you ever get an
opportunity to read a history of the Bauhaus, check out their
curriculum. It includes things like math, materials, typography,
dance, theater, fiber, manufacturing, etc.. Beautiful.

This fundamental division of philsophies runs so deep, and underlies so
much of what's simply *assumed*, that it just doesn't get discussed
nearly enough. I'd say that one of my biggest fears for the field
going forward, would be if this American approach somehow infects the
design culture in Europe. Having spent most of my career up until the
last five years, working mostly in America, I always felt alone, or one
of a small minority of generalist designers. But once I began working
with a group outside of Amsterdam, and a group in Germany, and another
one in the south of France, I realized that many of them have this same
generalist approach and perspective. It was like finally meeting my
long-lost siblings, from which I'd been cruelly separated at birth.

Just sayin'...

James Leftwich, IDSA

> From: David Heller <dave at ixdg.org>
> Date: May 10, 2005 12:47:47 PM PDT
> To: Mal <mal at candomultimedia.com>, <discuss at ixdg.org>
> Cc: Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] Do most interaction designers also
deliver graphical design
> . . .
> But in general, Interaction Design is a design discipline in and of
itself.
> . . .

11 May 2005 - 11:31pm
Wendy Fischer
2004

Oh this is an interesting post...

Here's my thoughts.....

I've come across this attitude before from more than a few graphic designers/creative directors/design firms with a "classically trained" background. Basically their attitude is:

"You're not doing design, you're just doing usability" to quote a creative director

"My team is made up of only graphic designers. We can design anything more innovative than any user interface designer or usability engineer." to quote a head of a design firm.

"I would only hire somebody who's a classically trained industrial designer, because they can design anything from a logo to a toothbrush. -

"The usability people kill all the fun and innovation in the creative process."

"I like my designers to only interact with each other and other designers and avoid dealing with engineering and product management. Meetings (with the others) take up too much time, the designers get bored and they should spend their time designing." to quote a head of design group

"I don't understand why we create a design and then it doesn't get implemented the way that I (design) intended." to quote the head of design, same guy as above.

1) Design is a collaborative process. It takes more than just one type of person. It requires researchers, engineers, business analysts, designers, in essence a team, to create a product.

2) When it comes to the actual nuts and bolts of design within the context of an actual software development process and dealing with actual engineering types (some call it reality), most graphic designers I've dealt with would rather focus on design, than the other things that come as part of the process: meetings, collaboration with engineering, understanding the technical limitations of an implementation, project management, user research, usability testing, etc, I find interaction design types tend to be more holistic in their approach to process, project management, design and usability on the whole, because in order to get things accomplished, we need to have this attitude.

3) Interaction design is an emerging field within the last 10 years as a separate research discipline and as a profession. There are several different types of academic programs and organizations that are contributing to the awareness of interaction design as a discipline and as a profession....HCI, CS, Graphic Design, Interactive Design, etc. Some focus more on the visual, some focus more on the engineering aspect and others focus on the applied use of theory.

While I am not very familiar with the interactive design market in Europe, there is an increased need and demand for interaction designers, need for usable products, and awareness of interaction design as a separate discipline in Europe, as evidenced by job postings and larger design firms.

I've heard it said numerous times from colleagues who are hiring in Europe that is very hard to find good interaction designers that have experience in research, understand UCD process, usability and interaction design and have the experience to apply it in a real life situation.

So I'd admit that I'm biased. I've spent most of my career focused on interaction design of applications within the context of a software development environment. I've avoided working for design firms for the most part. I'm trained mainly in interaction design and usability with an emphasis on applied and practical use of interaction design theory.

My belief is:

If your design for a car is beautiful and pleasing, and your car design doesn't include a cup holder, consumers are not going to buy your the car.

On the plus side today I interviewed a design firm that emphasized their segmentation and diversity of disciplines and their recent acquisition of a human factors firm to complement their design practice.

-Wendy

11 May 2005 - 11:54pm
LukeW
2004

Just want to echo Jim's statements here. Putting together a robust
interface design education is something I had to do with courses in
Human Factors, Computer Science, Graphic Design, and Library &
Information Sciences. It wasn't easy. There were no precedents or
recommendations on how to do this at the university where I got my
Master's and later taught. Before I left I was working hard at bringing
the same academic verticals (that I used to stitch together my graduate
program) together to create a horizontal interface design curriculum.

One of the first things I discussed with students in my interface
design classes was "why learn interface design?" I tried to make two
points. The first concerns the need for quality interface designs.
Automobile manufacturers are putting displays in the dashboards of
cars, online sales rose 29% in 2004, kids are learning math, science,
and more on personal computers. In other words, displays are available
in more places, used by more people, and have more responsibility than
ever before. As Stephen Johnson puts it: "The most dynamic and
innovative region of the modern world reveals itself to us only through
the anonymous middlemen of interface design."

The second point speaks to the inter-disciplinary nature of interface
design. During the Renaissance, artists were engineers. But as we moved
forward, the "assembly line" model that heralded the industrial age,
carried over to people. Specialization thrived. You were either an
artist or an engineer. Now enter the personal computer. The same
interface (desktop metaphor and all) allows you to be an accountant
(Excel and VisiCalc), an artist (Photoshop and Illustrator), and an
engineer. And nowhere is this "renaissance" opportunity more available
than in interface design. Psychology, Aesthetics, Human Factors,
Computer Science, Anthropology, Library Sciences, and more are all part
of the equation.

Gerd Waloszek discusses whether Interface Design is a science, an art,
or a craft and comes to the conclusion that: "It's a craft that takes
its wisdom from science, its inspiration from art and the design
disciplines, its possibilities and limitations from software technology
and corporate culture, and its directions - ideally - from the users."
Tom Smith illustrated it well with his User Experience Curriculum
(http://dev11.otherworks.com/theotherblog/images/UXCurriculum.gif)
there are lots of points of understanding that inform the design
process. Generalist thinking helps interface designers tie them
together into an effective product solve.

Just my two cents ~'~

On May 11, 2005, at 2:20 PM, Jim Leftwich wrote:
> Design as I was taught, included the entire spectrum from typography,
> graphic design, corporate identity, signage, communication, media,
> products, materials, environments, and systems, which is a much more
> traditional European approach to Design education - Design as a whole,
> not a group of ever-dividing specialities. If you ever get an
> opportunity to read a history of the Bauhaus, check out their
> curriculum. It includes things like math, materials, typography,
> dance, theater, fiber, manufacturing, etc.. Beautiful.
::
:: Luke Wroblewski -[ www.lukew.com ]
:: User Experience Director, LukeW Interface Designs
::

12 May 2005 - 1:15am
Jim Leftwich
2004

On May 11, 2005, at 9:31 PM, Wendy Fischer wrote:

> I've come across this attitude before from more than a few graphic
designers/creative
> directors/design firms with a "classically trained" background. 
Basically their attitude is:
>  
> "You're not doing design, you're just doing usability" to quote a
creative director
>  
> "My team is made up of only graphic designers.  We can design
anything more
> innovative than any user interface designer or usability
engineer." to quote a head of
> a design firm.
>  
> "I would only hire somebody who's a classically trained industrial
designer, because
> they can design anything from a logo to a toothbrush. -
>  
> "The usability people kill all the fun and innovation in the
creative process."
>  
> "I like my designers to only interact with each other and other
designers and avoid
> dealing with engineering and product management. Meetings (with
the others) take
> up too much time, the designers get bored and they should spend
their time
> designing." to quote a head of design group
>  
> "I don't understand why we create a design and then it doesn't get
implemented the
> way that I (design) intended."  to quote the head of design, same
guy as above.

The thing about quotes like these is that nothing really matters except
what can be proven has been done. If the quotes from the above people
were backed by many successful innovative and breakthrough products,
then they're speaking truth (as they see it). If they haven't, then
they're simply blowing hot air.

It's probably a lot less important to focus on anything anybody *says*
and instead just look at *what they've actually done.* Really, what
can possibly matter or count more than that? Fields involving making
things are meritocracies, where success and results are what matters.

It's not about categories and titles or prognostications - in the end,
it's *ALL* about what you and your team have managed to get done. What
you and your team bring to reality. Is that an incremental, but
well-needed improvement? Is it a completely new system from scratch?
Results are the only thing that matter in the field of User Experience
and Interaction Design. Have you made the world demonstrably
easier/joyful/productive/efficient/safer/effective, etc., and have you
done that successfully within a business and marketing context?

This field does not have decades in which to produce results. Many
have been working to successfully bring innovative and useful products
to market for decades now. These are the questions that must be asked
of anyone claiming expertise in Interaction Design, regardless of what
speciality or portion of the field they claim residency in.

Nothing counts like real rubber meeting actual road. This usually
needs to occur in mere weeks or months nowadays. Do the math.

 
> 1) Design is a collaborative process.  It takes more than just one
type of person. 
> It requires researchers, engineers, business analysts, designers,
in essence a
> team, to create a product.

I wholeheartedly agree that these are the skills necessarily integrated
for success, though often in successful development projects you'll
find more than one of these fields within the combined skillsets of
individual teammembers.

Don't let anyone tell you that generalist design, generalist
engineering, or just plain generalist product/software development is
dead or non-existent. It's where a great deal of the breakthrough and
disruptive technologies and new ideas emerge. Sometimes the results
end up getting acquired by larger established corporations and
marketed, but it's out there. And I would say it's out there in far
greater numbers and examples than you see coming from within
super-large organizations, with their layers of bureaucracy and
methodologies, and org charts, and pay scales, and labs, and whatnot.
Those internal corporate cultures and organizations suck up enormous
resources per unit of innovation introduced, in comparison.

> 3) Interaction design is an emerging field within the last 10
years as a separate
> research discipline and as a profession.

I think if one wants to say that the field of interaction design has
only emerged in the last ten years (!), one sould have to be severely
limiting what one was referring to, such as web media designers, but I
would actually count the mid-to-late 1990s multimedia emergence as the
beginning of that, anyway. Most of what's on the web has always struck
me as a giant CD-ROM.

Interaction Design has been practiced and discussed for far longer than
that. The entire 1980s saw the development of electronic user
interfaces of many kinds - in products, systems, software, and
integrated systems. We were discussing software user interface design
when I was in college in the early 1980s. BayCHI was begun in late
1989 in Palo Alto, and quickly drew a huge crowd of practitioners. The
field was already very large by the late 1980s, and recognized as a
field. Many were making *good* income, both as employees and as
consultants in interaction and interface design by then.

There was an enormous influx of graphic and media designers into the
Hypercard / CD-ROM multimedia world of the last half of the 1980s,
which seeded design in web world, and along with desktop software came
to dominate what the term, "Interaction Design" meant. This was
somewhat unfortunate, as so much interaction depends upon the tight
integration of the physical devices and controls with how the software
behaves and responds and is structured. It's one thing to just accept
the mouse and GUI and work within that realm, but it's altogether a
different challenge to develop new methods of interacting with devices
and products, equipment, and environments that demand a better or more
targetted and efficient interactional architecture and approach.

Product designers, many of which are excellent at graphic design and
understand engineering and manufacturing, have long been involved in
user research and worked very closely with mechanical engineers.
manufacturing, lifestyle, and business economics. It may be because
the field began in the early 20th century. Most product designers work
very closely with teams of engineers and business people. Its how many
of our products get developed and brought to market.

Many design firms have been undertaking research, both anthropological
as well as ergonomic and anthropometrics (including cognitive
ergonomics) as part of the design process since the 1980s (some much
earlier, such as Henry Dreyfuss, etc.). I'd separate this integrated
research out very clearly from "pure research," which doesn't have
nearly the same track record for producing huge numbers of innovative
brought-to-market products and systems.

As far as Interaction Design as "a research discipline." I guess I'd
have to ask, "Where's the beef?!"

I think I'm a lot more convinced about Interaction Design as a "get a
lot of products and software developed" discipline.

> While I am not very familiar with the interactive design market in
Europe, there
> is an increased need and demand for interaction designers, need
for usable
> products, and awareness of interaction design as a separate
discipline in Europe,
> as evidenced by job postings and larger design firms.  
>  
> I've heard it said numerous times from colleagues who are hiring
in Europe that
> is very hard to find good interaction designers that have
experience in research,
> understand UCD process, usability and interaction design and have
the
> experience to apply it in a real life situation.

In doing a search for a position my UX staff last year, it was apparent
that there were *many* excellently educated UX designers in Europe and
Scandanavia. I'm puzzled at what your European colleagues are
reporting! It doesn't match my experience. I saw many great
portfolios on coroflot, and we ended up hiring a brilliant young
designer with huge amounts of social interaction systems design and UX
design from Sweden. And I know many excellent designers in The
Netherlands and UK. In fact, I'll say that for the coming (well,
really, already here) giant wave of mobile devices and systems, the
Europeans are far ahead in both infrastructure and design experience.
At least that was the experience in doing an extensive search last
year. I think your colleagues may be looking in the wrong places, or
if the job-postings I see are any guide, asking the wrong questions or
requiring the wrong credentials!

> My belief is:
>  
> If your design for a car is beautiful and pleasing, and your car
design doesn't
> include a cup holder, consumers are not going to buy your the car.

American consumers, I think you mean. ;^)

I was just watching a program on German automobiles and driving, and it
was commented on how the Germans, for their own driving, would never
think of driving around with a drink - driving was an experience all by
itself. The whole cupholder thing comes purely from America, even if
our habits might spread. That may or may not be such a good thing.

But good design has *always* meant solving all the dimensions of a
problem or challenge.

James Leftwich, IDSA
http://www.orbitnet.com

12 May 2005 - 6:54am
Pierre Abel
2004

Wendy Fischer wrote:

>
>While I am not very familiar with the interactive design market in Europe, there is an increased need and demand for interaction designers, need for usable products, and awareness of interaction design as a separate discipline in Europe, as evidenced by job postings and larger design firms.
>
>I've heard it said numerous times from colleagues who are hiring in Europe that is very hard to find good interaction designers that have experience in research, understand UCD process, usability and interaction design and have the experience to apply it in a real life situation.
>
>
I don't know about which part of Europe you speak about, but I'm working
in Sophia-Antipolis, a technology park located the south of France, and
I can tell you that UCD and interaction design are almost not known
here ( in the context of software development). I'm fighting to explain
how much UCD is important, but most of UI is still done by engineers
that want to fill the database.

By the way, I would be very happy to know where interaction design/UCD
related jobs are posted for France or Europe... On this list, all the
jobs announces are usually only for the united states... Thanks in advance

Pierre

>
>So I'd admit that I'm biased. I've spent most of my career focused on interaction design of applications within the context of a software development environment. I've avoided working for design firms for the most part. I'm trained mainly in interaction design and usability with an emphasis on applied and practical use of interaction design theory.
>
>
>
>
>

12 May 2005 - 8:42am
Dan Saffer
2003

On May 12, 2005, at 2:15 AM, Jim Leftwich wrote:

> Interaction Design has been practiced and discussed for far longer
> than that. The entire 1980s saw the development of electronic user
> interfaces of many kinds - in products, systems, software, and
> integrated systems. We were discussing software user interface
> design when I was in college in the early 1980s. BayCHI was begun
> in late 1989 in Palo Alto, and quickly drew a huge crowd of
> practitioners. The field was already very large by the late 1980s,
> and recognized as a field. Many were making *good* income, both as
> employees and as consultants in interaction and interface design by
> then.

Marc Rettig's "Interaction Design History in a Teeny Little Nut
Shell" is a great resource on the history (and the future) of the
discipline:

http://www.marcrettig.com/writings/
rettig.interactionDesignHistory.v1.5.pdf

Dan

Dan Saffer
M. Design Candidate, Interaction Design
Carnegie Mellon University
http://www.odannyboy.com

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