Interaction Design Association

interaction design & graphic design

Simon Asselbergs
May 21, 2006 10:53pm

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Hi All,

I work at a company where I am the first Interaction Designer they've ever had. And this company doesn't want me to touch the surface of the graphic design of user interfaces. They are new to interaction design and I feel I have to explain them a lot about my expertise. But they seem not so open to discuss my part of interface design. They seem not be able to understand how the graphic part of interface design and usability are intertwined. So no Photoshop.

I feel a little uneasy in explaining them how these are intertwined, it feels almost to much too explain. How would you explain the difference between graphic design in general and graphic design related to designing user interfaces from a interaction design point of view? How would you explain the importance of the latter? Has anyone has experienced similar situations?

Thanks in advance,

Simon

--

Search for businesses by name, location, or phone number. -Lycos Yellow Pages

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Adrian Howard
May 22, 2006 1:17am

On 22 May 2006, at 07:53, Simon Asselbergs wrote:
[snip]
I feel a little uneasy in explaining them how these are intertwined, it feels almost to much too explain. How would you explain the difference between graphic design in general and graphic design related to designing user interfaces from a interaction design point of view? How would you explain the importance of the latter? Has anyone has experienced similar situations?
To be slightly contrary.

Who's doing the PS work at the moment? Is anything stopping you working with them too get the same result?

Of course graphic design is an important part of IxD. but does it always have to be done by one person?

Cheers,

Adrian

 
Terrence Wood
May 22, 2006 3:16am

I work at a company where I am the first Interaction Designer they've ever had. And this company doesn't want me to touch the surface of the graphic design of user interfaces.
Interesting. I wish I were a fly on the wall at your interview.

When painting the landscape your job is to determine where the footpaths are and where the signs go. The graphic designers choose the color and texture. The developers choose the canvas.

kind regards
Terrence Wood.

 
Sarah Bloomer
May 22, 2006 5:46am

Simon --

My advice is to avoid using words (explanations) and show (demonstrate) the benefits. You can do this without Photoshop.

There are some simple techniques that you can use to demonstrate the value of interaction design, and from there you can work on the graphic design/visual treatment. Start with interaction design, and then tackle graphic design.

For example, you can write Activity Scenarios which are stories that put a user type / persona through the act of using your application. Sometimes I will write one of these and illustrate it with the existing screens to show how difficult it is to use. I try to write these so that the interaction design is NOT described, just the user experience.

Then I will do a redesign using wireframes or paper prototypes (all you need to do interaction design) and then illustrate the same scenario with the new design. Usually the story is powerful and concrete enough to show the value.

If you have established some user goals, usability goals, business goals etc. then you can show how the current design may fall short of these goals, and how your new design tries to address them.

It sounds like you may not have access to actual users, so you'll have to do your best to learn about the target users in order to develop a realistic activity scenario. This could also convince your employers to give you access to end users.

Later you can demonstrate how graphic design can further enhance the user experience and usability of the application.

That's how I might tackle it. Forget about Photoshop for the short term. Do some interaction design. Then show how graphic design can further enhance the design.

Sarah

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + Sarah Bloomer, Senior Usability Specialist
The MathWorks
3 Apple Hill Drive
Natick, Massachusetts 01760
USA

e. sbloomer at mathworks.com
p. +508-647-7147
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

-----

Original Message -----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Simon Asselbergs
Sent: Monday, May 22, 2006 2:53 AM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] interaction design & graphic design

Hi All,

I work at a company where I am the first Interaction Designer they've ever had. And this company doesn't want me to touch the surface of the graphic design of user interfaces. They are new to interaction design and I feel I have to explain them a lot about my expertise. But they seem not so open to discuss my part of interface design. They seem not be able to understand how the graphic part of interface design and usability are intertwined. So no Photoshop.

I feel a little uneasy in explaining them how these are intertwined, it feels almost to much too explain. How would you explain the difference between graphic design in general and graphic design related to designing user interfaces from a interaction design point of view? How would you explain the importance of the latter? Has anyone has experienced similar situations?

Thanks in advance,

Simon

--

Search for businesses by name, location, or phone number. -Lycos Yellow Pages

http://r.lycos.com/r/yp_emailfooter/http://yellowpages.lycos.com/default .asp?SRC=lycos10


 
Michael Micheletti
May 23, 2006 3:06pm

Hi Simon,

Both sides of design need to fire strongly and together for the application to work well. I have seen some well thought-out information flows delivered with buttons of mismatched sizes and colors, unaligned form fields, and clashing color schemes that make it difficult to focus on the task. And we're all familiar with uber-stylish but sadly disfunctional websites.

Speaking from personal experience, the practice of graphic design and that of interaction design are very different. The formal training has almost no overlap, and I've worked with some fine interaction designers who had essentially no sense of visual balance or any graphic design training at all. Some interaction design sites have spawned a sort of visual school that designer Curt Cloninger calls "htminimalism". The intellectual write-papers-and-publish-and-be-a-professor side of interaction design is a very different world from that of the photoshop gurus who can create consistent backlit illumination schemes for realistic application skins. The graphic design school I attend off and on doesn't cover interaction design patterns, web standards, or accessibility for the disabled, but I learn a ton there about layout and typography and color schemes.

Many large organizations tend towards hyper-specialization, and perhaps that is what you are facing. As a lifelong generalist, I usually approach the problem by politely agreeing to the hard boundaries and then doing the odd border-bending effort in collaboration with like-minded souls who just want to get a hot project done. After one or two surprising category-shattering successes, you are considered a person who "gets things done" rather than a turf invader. Then life gets fun :-)

Good luck out there,

Michael Micheletti
At the moment, a combo technical writer, interaction designer, and graphic designer

-----

Original Message -----
From:
discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Simon Asselbergs
Sent: Sunday, May 21, 2006 11:53 PM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] interaction design & graphic design

How would you explain the difference between graphic design in general and graphic design related to designing user interfaces from a interaction design point of view? How would you explain the importance of the latter? Has anyone has experienced similar situations?

 
Kim Goodwin
May 24, 2006 11:42am

Hi, Simon.

I agree with Michael's comment that both disciplines need to work well together for the design to work. I also agree that there are folks doing interaction design who lack visual skills, but I have to say that all of the best interaction designers I've ever worked with were at least visually literate (just as the best visual interface designers are at least interaction-literate).

At Cooper, we *do* separate the roles for a few reasons: Pretty much everyone is better at one discipline than the other It's hard to be responsible for both aspects of the design (one inevitably suffers, especially when you're on a deadline) There's a productive tension between the two--interaction design tends to focus on the practical (what's the easiest way to get it done?) whereas graphic design also adds an emotional aspect (and how should that experience feel?)

Interaction designers have to be good at visualizing systems and well-versed in usability and interaction design principles and patterns. Visual interface designers are good at visually clarifying behavior while communicating brand attributes, and well-versed in graphic and information design.

As for the difference between "graphic design in general" (by which I assume you mean primarily print) vs. graphic design for user interfaces, I would first say that graphic design training in all of the usual areas--typography, color, layout, line, shape, etc.--is an essential foundation. However, visual interface design involves:

More constraints (color to some extent, resolution to a great extent, as well as various platform limitations)

Greater emphasis on information design (wayfinding to an extent, but especially the visual display of processes, status, and quantitative data--emphasized in some graphic design schools but not others)

More emphasis on behavior, less on style (some heavily branded Web sites are still somewhat print-like in their emphasis on brand and imagery, but applications are much more focused on affordances, clear hierarchy, etc.)

Content that changes state over time (whereas in graphic design, one has to covey all the information at once, information in a UI can evolve or can be revealed over time)

-----

Original Message -----

Sent: Tuesday, May 23, 2006 4:06 PM
To: Simon Asselbergs;
discuss at ixda.org

Both sides of design need to fire strongly and together for the application to work well.
<snip
I've worked with some fine interaction designers
who had essentially no sense of visual balance or any graphic design training at all.
<snip

Michael Micheletti
At the moment, a combo technical writer, interaction designer, and graphic designer

-----

Original Message -----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Simon Asselbergs
Sent: Sunday, May 21, 2006 11:53 PM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] interaction design & graphic design

How would you explain the difference between graphic design in general and graphic design related to designing user interfaces from a interaction design point of view? How would you explain the importance of the latter? Has anyone has experienced similar situations?



 
LukeW
May 25, 2006 6:39pm

How would you explain the difference between graphic design in general and graphic design related to designing user interfaces from a interaction design point of view? How would you explain the importance of the latter? Has anyone has experienced similar situations?
Quoting myself (sorry if some folks have heard this before :), I've found it useful to explain things this way:

"Think of visual design as the “voice” of interaction design and information architecture. It communicates the importance of (and relationships between) the content and actions within an application. Visual design can be thought of as two interwoven parts: visual organization and personality. Visual organization utilizes the principles of perception (how we make sense of what we see) to construct a visual narrative. Through applications of contrast, visual designers can communicate the steps required to complete a task, the relationships between information, or the hierarchy between interface elements. So clearly visual organization is a key component for successful interface designs.

Unfortunately, the bulk of discussions about the effectiveness of visual design don’t focus on visual organization systems. Instead, they are limited to a subjective analysis of the personality (look and feel) of an interface. Personality is achieved through a judicious selection of colors, fonts, patterns, images, and visual elements designed to communicate a particular message to an audience. But just about everyone has a color or font preference, so when asked to evaluate visual design that’s were they turn first.

My advice to interaction designers is to take the time to learn the principles underlying visual organization. You’ll be better able to communicate with the visual designers on your team and, more importantly, with the end users of your product."

:: :: Luke Wroblewski -[ www.lukew.com ]
:: Principal, LukeW Interface Designs
::
luke at lukew.com | 408.879.9826
::

 
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