Molly had asked us to write about what we think Interaction Design is now, that we are a semester in.

I think my viewpoints are very similar to what they were when first starting at CMU.

Maybe this is just the curriculum for the fall semester, but I am struggling against the fact that everything needs to still be ‘pretty’. Isn’t it more about the idea? I came to grad school in the hopes that I could maybe get away from the low level types of design and explore more theoretical, learn how to do some solid research, learn how to be more convincing to colleagues and get better at what my definition of design is. Or is design by definition the outputs. I don’t see the value of correct kerning, sure it bothers me and I will spend time doing it, but other then a low level pet peeve, why does that matter in the long run?

I want to do more of what my definition of ‘Interaction Design’ is, which literally is designing interactions. I want an understanding of why people do what they do, I want knowledge and I want to in turn manufacture interactions/ reactions and the like.

If anything I am more confused on what Interaction Design is. Talking to fellow classmates, their outlook is that Interaction Design is such a new thing, you can have it be anything you want it to be. This is freeing but it is also troubling, because it is different to everyone. Design is not making things pretty!

From this semester, my definition of design is story telling, and to do so convincingly, which is a skill I need. I am also enjoying thinking about other forms of design such as Critical Design, and Futures. But Interaction Design, I really want it to be what I thought it was.

I am still trying to figure out the difference between HCI and Interaction Design. Talking to the HCI grads it sounds like they don’t get theory in their curriculum. Is that the only difference? Yet at a party when the topic of redesigning a web app comes up they say I don’t do that, talk to Sarah. What DO YOU DO THEN? I guarantee when you graduate, that’s what you will be doing (80% guarantee). I hate when people put you in a bubble. How is what you do different then me- really I am asking.

Austin said that the HCI kind of research focuses on testing of a product to see if it was built right, for minor tweaks, and that design research is going into a space and figuring it out. But that can’t be right, because wouldn’t everyone be doing the second rather then the first? Who doesn’t want the meatier problem?

I like design because I think finding solutions to problems are fun and interesting when allowed to be done right, and I wanted the freedom of two years to do it right. And, to me thats what Interaction Design to me, uncluttered by applying aesthetics. Even if the idea is super interesting, aesthetics is still a major part of the solution.

Isn’t there beauty in just the idea?

As a reflection of this semester, I have been opened up to new ways of thinking, and I have been pushed to learn things I wouldn’t have known otherwise. I will edit this later to be less of a rant. But I will close with my original definition of Interaction Design.

Interaction design can be taken in its most literal form; “Designing Interactions”. Interactions happen between two people, between a person and an object, or between two objects. You can take this to mean that interaction can be reactionary or a conversation (1:1 or 1:many etc).

I think Interaction design is first understanding the potential for these interactions. Understanding the psychology behind what makes people do certain things and what makes people respond in the way that they do is critical to interaction design. Then in turn, manufacturing those reactions. This may be a crude way of saying it, but really getting to understand those users, their potential reactions, their wants and needs, and then advocating for them, makes products and vision stronger.

Interaction & Service Design Concepts: Principles, Perspectives & Practices

Graduate Seminar 1, Fall 2015, Carnegie Mellon School of Design, Collection of the Seminar’s Work

Sarah Foley

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Interaction & Service Design Concepts: Principles, Perspectives & Practices

Graduate Seminar 1, Fall 2015, Carnegie Mellon School of Design, Collection of the Seminar’s Work

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