IxD background questions- area, education, work environment, career path

29 May 2010 - 1:01pm
4 years ago
3 replies
2738 reads
carolinew
2010

Hi there,

After browsing thousands of posts and I still couldn’t find the answers I was looking for, I have decided to write my first post and wish some of you experts out there would be kind enough to share some insight (ok, I exaggerated, but still it’s a lot of reading)


-          Are most IxD working on web interfaces/ application? What’s the proportion of IxD working on electronic gadgets as well as other types of non-electronics products?

-          Does an IxD also do usability research i.e. evaluation study, field research etc?

-          Does IxD usually work in a consulting company or large companies who have their own research groups, or?

-          As an IxD, what’s your educational background? IxD/ HCI/ industrial design or anthropology/ business school/ unrelated?

-          Last question, what is your career path before becoming an IxD? Do you actually start out as a junior IxD?


Btw if my questions are not specific enough for you to answer, please write something and let me know!


Thanks a lot,

Caroline


Comments

29 May 2010 - 9:50pm
Dave Malouf
2005

-          Are most IxD working on web interfaces/ application? What’s the proportion of IxD working on electronic gadgets as well as other types of non-electronics products?

I would concede that most people in this community are definitely historically or currently from the web world and a significant segment from general desktop and even mobile software. 

There is though a significant group of us who are actively doing work in many types of media, platforms, etc. Some are as technology agnostic as service design. Some are working in architecture, etc.


-          Does an IxD also do usability research i.e. evaluation study, field research etc?

"an IxD" is a tricky thing. In this community we have actively fought against using titles as a starting point of discussions. There are members of this community who practice interaction design and do all the things you mentioned above. There are members who don't. I prefer finding people who do this work, but when asked I can do it. I teach research and evaluation as part of my core IxD curriculum b/c whether or not you do it in your practice you should know what it is all about.

-          Does IxD usually work in a consulting company or large companies who have their own research groups, or?

There is no usually here. agencies, consultancies (yes there is a difference), contractors, and internal people as part of larger corporations (some of these even work like service bureaus anyway) all hire interaction designers. Government, education, and non-profits also hire people w/ IxD skills as well. 

-          As an IxD, what’s your educational background? IxD/ HCI/ industrial design or anthropology/ business school/ unrelated?

ha! this is something that is going to vary based on experience and age. As for me, I have a degree in Anthropology and I never intended to use it for design. In fact, when i learned anthro, applied anthro was considered to be unethical and heretical. I just was a slacker who liked the internet and become a dot-comer when doing HTML meant you were a designer. It just grew from there.

-          Last question, what is your career path before becoming an IxD? Do you actually start out as a junior IxD?

see previous question.

Overall, I'm not sure what you are trying to get at for yourself. What are you hoping to learn and why? IxD is emerging. In practice it is almost always part of or in partnership with other core practices of design, research and engineering. If you are only practicing IxD, you are probably not doing it right.

As for the web vs. other things. IxD was born from 2 directions: HCI and Industrial Design well before the web existed. The reality is though that the web and the rest of the information age catalyzed the need for professionals who could help manage the huge tide of complexity that computer interfaces were creating for human beings. The rapid rise of technology in almost every sector of life though has had all these "theaters of design" looking towards the core elements of practice that IxD is all about and either making it their own, or looking for IxDs to join their collaborative teams. This muddles up the practice even more.

Just as an example of this from the education side. The first 3 students who have approached me about being a topic consultant for their thesis have all come outside my department (Industrial Design) and from the following departments: Architecture, Graphic Design and Sound Design.

-- dave 

30 May 2010 - 11:12am
carolinew
2010

Thanks for sharing, Dave. As I have thought before asking these questions, the area is rather broad and people seem to be from everywhere (which is exciting)

> I'm not sure what you are trying to get at for yourself.

you asked earlier. The question I had in mind is rather broad, namely, I would like to get involved in making physical products easier and more interesting to use, but I don't have a design backgound. Given that I have the freedom to go to grad school if necessary, how could I start and would I more or less end up doing what I think I am interested in?

If I had posted this question earlier I would likely declare this forum is as lively as a potato.

> What are you hoping to learn and why?

The "why" is a little more difficult to answer. I have always been interested in industrial design/ product developement and I have even taken up a job opportunity which brought me to Europe so I could get closer to the vibrant scene. At the same time I also find myself hacking daily items and frequently ask why can't the manufacturer of <insert device name> put in xx feature to make my life easier. So thought I'd give it a try and see how could I enter the field.


What I am hoping to learn from the answers, is basically finding the common category and term to capture the things I wish to do, and acquire the appropriate skills (let it be degree/grad school, internship, or self-learning) so that next time when I hack things I could tell others "it's just my job"...

I am looking into getting a Master of Information but I admit I still need to research more before I could be sure whether or not this makes sense.

I came across Jonas Lowgren's article on the "origins" of IxD a while ago and you comments pretty much overlapped with it. It's a great reminder for me :)

http://www.interaction-design.org/encyclopedia/interaction_design.html

Thanks,

Caroline

 



30 May 2010 - 5:25pm
Dave Malouf
2005

I was actually thinking of it when I made that HCI<>ID dichotomy statement.

If you are interested in Products and interaction, why a masters in information? It seems that you need design for one and then product with a focus on interaction 2nd. I suggest that there are a host of great programs especially in Europe that would help you do just that. Umea in Sweden and Delft in Holland jump out at me if product:interaction is what you are interested in doing. In the states, IIT/ID has a strong research focus, but would definitely be good overall. CMU might allow you to cross over between their two programs in the school of design and they have a separate program in their school of architecture in tangible interactions that might even be better. 

Lastly there are programs that really are about you making your own way. NYU's ITP program, CIID and even RCA jump to mind in this category.

Anyway, good luck w/ everything.

-- dave

ps. Oh! I have to say it. an MFA in ID here at SCAD can afford you to work with the likes of me and have access to our service design, design management and design for sustainability programs as well.  Can't not say it. ;)

Syndicate content Get the feed