Thursday, July 12, 2007

What Puts the Design in Interaction Design

A descriptive definition and discussion about interaction design ...

"Interaction design is a blended endeavor of process, methodology, and attitude. Discussions of process and methodology are pervasive in the interaction design milieu and often revolve around a perceived tension between process and methodology and the role of design within this discipline. To be clear, process is the overarching design framework—for example, an iterative, or spiral, process or a sequential, or waterfall, process. Conversely, a methodology is a prescribed design approach such as user-centered design or genius design.

Along with all this talk about process and methodology, interaction designers spend much time distinguishing and labeling their various design practices: Is it interface design or information design? This is not surprising, because interaction design lies at the junction of several design disciplines. The resulting crossover between various specialties and issues is often muddled, understandably. There is no doubt that interaction design, as a design discipline, differs from applied human-computer interaction and cognitive psychology. These distinctions are omnipresent in the current literature.

“Interaction design’s strongest ties are to the discipline of design—not to, say human-computer interaction or cognitive psychology, although it does draw heavily on those fields. Interaction designers are designers, for good or ill.”—Dan Saffer

Saffer makes the point that interaction designers are designers not only because of process and methodology, but also because of attitude. Traces of this theme recently appeared in a thread on the IAI mailing list, “Is there a design school culture?” in which the thread instigator contemplated the difference between designers who went to art/design school and those who did not. He eloquently stated that, at times, he feels like a muggle, an outsider, who is not quite immersed in the same culture of design compared to those who had a formal design/art education. Though the author was not specifically talking about interaction design, there is a strong parallel to recent discussions on the IxDA discussion list in the “Old Guard versus New Guard” thread, which also contemplated the issue of formal design training."    (Continued via UXmatters)    [Usability Resources]

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