Interaction Design Association

What does it mean to be an interaction designer?

Simon Asselbergs
May 25, 2006 4:16pm

Post a Response | Jump to Most Recent (11)

Hi All,

I am toying around with the idea to write some articles based on the high experience density on this list. My situation, coming straight from my education to setup my position on a medium sized company where it didn't existed before, leads to questions valuable for other newcomers who might want to do just the same. It is a experience which leads to questions why things are and how they are from a fresh point of view. When you're doing you Masters (or Bachelor), the main focus is more about "what is interaction design" than "how is it to be an interaction designer in an company as a professional". The every days' life of an interaction designer might seem obvious if your organisation has enough experience with it, but it is certainly not when your organisation hasn't any. As a newcomer to this list I found answers of the experiences from the more seasoned interaction designers deeply invaluable.

Three simple questions:
1. How many books do you know about "What does it mean to be an interaction designer"? 2. If I would write such article which organisations (for example similar to ixda.org) would be possibly be interested to publish these articles? 3. a)Would any of you see the value of such articles? b)What do you think would be interesting issues based on your own experiences?

Cheers,

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

 
LukeW
May 25, 2006 6:34pm

Simon,

Frank Ramirez recently published a post about getting started with interaction design and has a nice list of books:
http://www.ramirezdesign.com/2006/04/getting_started_with_interacti.htm

I have two resources which might also help. The first is a list of online design magazines that would be interested in publishing the type of ixd article you described:
http://www.lukew.com/ff/entry.asp?346

the second is a post about why being an interaction designer matters: http://www.lukew.com/ff/entry.asp?23

hope this helps~

On May 25, 2006, at 5:16 PM, Simon Asselbergs wrote:


Hi All,
I am toying around with the idea to write some articles based on the high experience density on this list. My situation, coming straight from my education to setup my position on a medium sized company where it didn't existed before, leads to questions valuable for other newcomers who might want to do just the same. It is a experience which leads to questions why things are and how they are from a fresh point of view. When you're doing you Masters (or Bachelor), the main focus is more about "what is interaction design" than "how is it to be an interaction designer in an company as a professional". The every days' life of an interaction designer might seem obvious if your organisation has enough experience with it, but it is certainly not when your organisation hasn't any. As a newcomer to this list I found answers of the experiences from the more seasoned interaction designers deeply invaluable.
Three simple questions:
1. How many books do you know about "What does it mean to be an interaction designer"?
2. If I would write such article which organisations (for example similar to ixda.org) would be possibly be interested to publish these articles?
3. a)Would any of you see the value of such articles? b)What do you think would be interesting issues based on your own experiences? Cheers,
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


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

 
Dan Saffer
May 25, 2006 6:48pm

On May 25, 2006, at 5:16 PM, Simon Asselbergs wrote:

Three simple questions:
1. How many books do you know about "What does it mean to be an interaction designer"?
Alan Cooper and Robert Reimann's About Face 2.0
Designing from Both Sides of the Screen by Ellen Isaacs and Alan Walendowski

I'm sure Bill Moggridge's upcoming book "Designing Interactions" will address this as well.

2. If I would write such article which organisations (for example similar to ixda.org) would be possibly be interested to publish these articles?
Boxes and Arrows
UXmatters
ACM's Interactions

Dan

Dan Saffer
Designing for Interaction
New Riders, August 2006
http://www.designingforinteraction.com

 
Meara NI
May 26, 2006 2:57am

Simon wrote:
I am toying around with the idea to write some articles . how is it to be an interaction designer in an company as a professional.
Simon,

This sounds like a fantastic idea.

Three simple questions:
1. How many books do you know about "What does it mean to be an interaction designer"?
I'd second Dan's excellent suggestions - About Face 2.0 and Designing From Both Sides of the Screen - but also add Adrian Shaughnessy's How to be a Graphic Designer: Without Losing Your Soul <
http://tinyurl.com/kgtz3 .

This sets out to be 'a career manual for graphic designers' and may have some parallels for the type of articles you're looking to write.

It's an excellent read and, as you say, covers a lot of practical things that aren't necessarily taught at school (although, for me it focused too much on graphic design 'rock stars', despite Shaughnessy's stated intention not to). Anyway, might be worth a look to see one approach to this subject from a different design discipline.

Cheers,

Nick. . Nick Meara Senior Systems Implementer
Information Systems Aston
Aston University, Birmingham

 
Simon Asselbergs
May 26, 2006 3:19am

Hi All,

1. How many books do you know about "What does it mean to be an interaction designer"?
Alan Cooper and Robert Reimann's About Face 2.0
Designing from Both Sides of the Screen by Ellen Isaacs and Alan Walendowski
I'm sure Bill Moggridge's upcoming book "Designing Interactions" will address this as well.
Maybe I need to refine my explanation.
I am not speaking about what an interaction designer is, but what it means to be an interaction designer inside an organisation, in practical terms. I do want to adress issues like:

  • with who interaction designers can communicate (based on different approaches how organistions are structured, only roughly speaking), for example how Marketing and interaction design can benefit from eachother in practical terms, how visual designers can cooperate with interaction designers, and some references to discussions about empowered design.
  • I sense that a lot of interaction designers from my organisation are working for media companies (mostly webbased solutions) and I get the idea there are still so many medium sized organisations which don't know what interaction design is and have no clear immediate thoughts how to integrate an interaction designer into their organisation. This situation seems at least to be the case in The Netherlands (I have not yet an idea how that is globally). I can imagine seasoned interaction designers are sometimes the first interaction designers to be the companies first, but apparently new fresh graduated interaction designers (like me) also see possibilities to prophetize interaction design to less typical companies which weren't aware of the existence of interaction design.

    From the point of view of these new interaction designers it might be interesting to have some guidelines about how to define interaction design in such a company. And from the point of view of these companies it might be interesting what issues should be adressed when contracting a interaction designer for the first time (management considerations about the integration in the organisational structure and some thoughts about managing innovation and client satisfaction). I am interested in how people from this list would value such articles. 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

     
    Simon Asselbergs
    May 26, 2006 4:12am

    I sense that a lot of interaction designers from my organisation are working for media companies (mostly webbased solutions) and I get the idea there are still so many medium sized Correction, I of course "organisation" in this sentence has to be replaced by "education"

    --

    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

     
    Gregory Petroff
    May 26, 2006 5:49am

    Being the first to promote and implement IxD work within a large company, b2b style space is challenging. Especially if the development environment is established and set in their methods of operation. I spent a couple of years working within the development group at the NYSE which had a good track record of engaging outside IxD consultants for their trading systems but no understanding at all on its merits or use on internal development projects. Here are some first hand experiences as a recipe for how to build understanding from within.

    1. Read Alan Cooper's "The Inmates are Running the Asylum" 2. Read Cooper and Reiman's "About Face 2.0" 3. Find an executive in the organization that thinks that the current process of development is too slow, or missing the mark, or is confusing etc. (Not hard to find in a most IT related organizations). 4. Convince him to read the "The Inmates are Running the Asylum" 5. Make a presentation to him on Goal Directed Design (GDD) process as detailed in "About Face". Focus on the premise that this method should provide a faster development time frame, more accurate product definition, simpler and more usable software etc. Tell him your not sure it will work in this environment but we should test it. De-emphasise the persona development process if you sense that they feel uncomfortable about it. They will get it later and you must do this part to succeed. 6. Get them to "try it out" once as an experiment on a small project. 7. Make sure you have access to real users as part of the agreement to do the work. (end run the requirements gathering teams if you have to). 8. Develop your solution with a robust prototype with sound IxD work. (Can be a paper prototype)
    9. Show it to users and evaluate (testing can be informal). 10. Incorporate user testing info and refine your prototype. 10. Present solution to Manager and MAKE SURE that he knows that the whole GDD process was his idea all along.
    11. All of a sudden everyone will be running around in the org talking about GDD (IT shops love their acronyms).
    12. Your next project starts the right way!
    13. Developers actually begin to like you!

    -gp

    On 5/26/06, Simon Asselbergs <interaction-designer at lycos.com wrote: I sense that a lot of interaction designers from my organisation are working for media companies (mostly webbased solutions) and I get the idea there are still so many medium sized Correction, I of course "organisation" in this sentence has to be replaced by "education"
    -- 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


    -- Gregory Petroff
    Mobile # 646 387 2841
    greg.petroff(at)gmail.com

     
    Dave (Heller) Malouf
    May 26, 2006 5:59am

    Having read a bit more about Simon's question, the one source that jumps to mind is Guy Kawasaki's work on Evangelism.

    I'd say 75% of building IxD in an org where it hasn't been before is about evangelism. You need to sell design, UCD, and finally interaction design at various points. Then you'll need to sell even more methodologies and processes.

    Guy does a great job of describing the work of an evangelist.

    the other piece to this puzzle is just what I call the "just do it" approach. It means long hours and a big pain point, but until people see models it usually really difficult for them to imagine the intangible value that IxD brings to them.

    if you have a shop that is already pretty design centric like a media organization, you still will probably have to evangelize UCD and UX within the organization.

    -- dave

     
    Robert Hoekman, Jr.
    May 26, 2006 7:36am

    Maybe I need to refine my explanation.
    I am not speaking about what an interaction designer is, but what it means to be an interaction designer inside an organisation, in practical terms.

    Seems to me this can vary widly depending on the company. If you're in a situation you think is fairly representative of how IxD should be done, then it sounds like a great idea, but as you can probably see from this list, the way it *should* be done varies just as much. Still, it would be pretty cool to read an insiders perspective. Nice idea.

    -r-

     
    Robert Hoekman, Jr.
    May 26, 2006 7:58am

    1. Read Alan Cooper's "The Inmates are Running the Asylum" 2. Read Cooper and Reiman's "About Face 2.0"

    2A. And then read Norman's article on Activity-Centered Design and start re-evaluating your approach. :)

    4. Convince him to read the "The Inmates are Running the Asylum"

    Good luck with this one. I've found the best way to demonstrate what IxD can do is to do the work and prove it the hard way. Cooper suggests that in a perfect world, on an 18-month project, design would be given 12 months and dev would be given only 6. (I could be misquoting this, but you get the point, I'm sure.) Most companies would never agree to this (possibly because they have to keep the developers busy), and even if they did, it would be pretty extreme and potentially counter-productive to burn up a year without a single functioning feature. You can't really prove something works until it works.

    5. Make a presentation to him on Goal Directed Design (GDD) process as detailed in "About Face". Focus on the premise that this method should provide a faster development time frame, more accurate product definition, simpler and more usable software etc.

    It will also result in a longer design period. I wouldn't gloss over this fact.

    6. Get them to "try it out" once as an experiment on a small project.

    Excellent idea. I'm all for it.

    13. Developers actually begin to like you!

    I'm sure you meant this as a joke, but I wanted to make a point anyway. The best way to get developers to build what you want is to give them something they want to build. Often this means designing reusable interface elements, because they love reusable code. Fortunately, reusable interface elements also contribute to a simpler, more elegant design, so it's a win-win. No, this doesn't always work, but if you can do this a couple of times right out of the gate, they'll find it a lot easier to trust you later on when you're asking them to build something less exciting later on.

    The best way to get them to *like* you, on the other hand, is to make sure they know you can get your hands dirty. Cooper's "skin in the game" notion means different things to different people, but I have a programming background, and the developers I work with trust and respect me so much because of this. I always talk to them when devising my plans so they have a technical voice (they dont usually get this, so they love it when I come to them first), I know what they're talking about when they launch into daydreams about how to create something, so they know they can talk to me in their own language and that I'm on their level. With me, their constraints are considered and their voice is heard.

    I'm not saying everyone should become a programmer, but every IxD should know exactly how difficult it is to pull off any given feature or UI. If you've felt the pain yourself, you understand what they have to deal with, and they love you for it.

    That said, you obviously should sometimes ignore them, just like you should sometimes ignore your users.

    -r-

     
    Gregory Petroff
    May 26, 2006 11:06am

    Hey Robert,

    Good adds. The advantage I had was there was something not working in developer land and it was not the developers fault. I think IxD as a process can help reign in user requirments and keep stakeholders on task as to what is going to meet the needs of the users the products were developed for. I earned alot of credibility with the dev team becasue they were frustrated that they were building great software that no one used or even worse they had to change constantly to address ill defined requirements. This is where the ROI of IxD can pay dividends in a smoother development process and even a shorter one start to finish as resources are utilized more succesfully.

    As David aluded to, building advocacy for IxD within our work environments should be everyones responsibility. Context is everything, so each work environment will have different issues, decison makers etc that will require different ways to build awareness of the benfits of IxD and bringing about organizational change to make IxD a part of their process. It would be great to see other examples of how IxD starts in organizations and its recognized value over time. I would also love to hear about where people have felt that it has failed and for what reasons.

    -gp

    On 5/26/06, Robert Hoekman, Jr. <rhoekmanjr at gmail.com wrote: 1. Read Alan Cooper's "The Inmates are Running the Asylum" 2. Read Cooper and Reiman's "About Face 2.0" 2A. And then read Norman's article on Activity-Centered Design and start re-evaluating your approach. :)
    4. Convince him to read the "The Inmates are Running the Asylum" Good luck with this one. I've found the best way to demonstrate what IxD can do is to do the work and prove it the hard way. Cooper suggests that in a perfect world, on an 18-month project, design would be given 12 months and dev would be given only 6. (I could be misquoting this, but you get the point, I'm sure.) Most companies would never agree to this (possibly because they have to keep the developers busy), and even if they did, it would be pretty extreme and potentially counter-productive to burn up a year without a single functioning feature. You can't really prove something works until it works.
    5. Make a presentation to him on Goal Directed Design (GDD) process as detailed in "About Face". Focus on the premise that this method should provide a faster development time frame, more accurate product definition,
    simpler and more usable software etc.
    It will also result in a longer design period. I wouldn't gloss over this fact.
    6. Get them to "try it out" once as an experiment on a small project. Excellent idea. I'm all for it.
    13. Developers actually begin to like you!
    I'm sure you meant this as a joke, but I wanted to make a point anyway. The best way to get developers to build what you want is to give them something they want to build. Often this means designing reusable interface elements, because they love reusable code. Fortunately, reusable interface elements also contribute to a simpler, more elegant design, so it's a win-win. No, this doesn't always work, but if you can do this a couple of times right out of the gate, they'll find it a lot easier to trust you later on when you're asking them to build something less exciting later on. The best way to get them to *like* you, on the other hand, is to make sure they know you can get your hands dirty. Cooper's "skin in the game" notion means different things to different people, but I have a programming background, and the developers I work with trust and respect me so much because of this. I always talk to them when devising my plans so they have a technical voice (they dont usually get this, so they love it when I come to them first), I know what they're talking about when they launch into daydreams about how to create something, so they know they can talk to me in their own language and that I'm on their level. With me, their constraints are considered and their voice is heard.
    I'm not saying everyone should become a programmer, but every IxD should know exactly how difficult it is to pull off any given feature or UI. If you've felt the pain yourself, you understand what they have to deal with, and they love you for it.
    That said, you obviously should sometimes ignore them, just like you should sometimes ignore your users.
    -r-

    -- Gregory Petroff
    Mobile # 646 387 2841
    greg.petroff(at)gmail.com

     
    Log In to Post a Response
    Re: What does it mean to be an interaction designer?

    Name

    E-mail Address

    Back to Top

    Copyright © 2004-2006 Interaction Design Association.