Tracy Potter
Dec 17, 2015 · 3 min read

At the beginning of this semester we were asked to write our definition of what interaction design was. I defined interaction design as, “the intersection of product design, environmental and spatial design, technology, and users and how they are all dependent on one another to shape our everyday lives.”

After a full semester of studying the history and theory that has built up what interaction is recognized as today, as well as beginning to get myself involved with the actual practice of interaction design through my studios and lab course, what I have found is that there are two very different sides of interaction design. The technologically based view which seems to scope interaction design in the realm of wireframes, programming, gestural taxonomies, and AI development for large scale tech type design. Then there is the humanistic view of interaction design. This is the view that is concerned with services that people interact with, participatory design of shared systems, and more avant-garde and futurist design thought. All of these are human centered interactions and considered by their designers to be a type of interaction design, whether or not they are technologically based. I believe that true interaction design really lies at the intersection of these two views. It is a space that will challenge us as designers in creative, moral, ethical, and technological ways as we are creating our future world.

This isn’t a severe departure from my original stance on what interaction design is, but it is definitely a more thoroughly understood position and opinion that I am choosing to stand by. We cannot deny the importance of the technological and social revolutions that we are a part of right now, but I think that it’s extremely important that both of these views of interaction design play equal parts in their development.

In my previous post I wrote about what makes good design. I wrote that I see good design as, “not necessarily a product or feature that you always realize is there or that stands out and makes a statement, but something that is so embedded and ingrained in a space or system that it is seamless and unquestioned”. Looking back on this statement I would have to say that my views have definitely changed. I didn’t fully understand the concept of what seamlessness was before. A simple and hassle free experience seemed to be a desirable end. I have since realized that seams in design can actually make us much more aware and push us to ask important questions about how technologies in our world or human organizational systems are structured and what purposes they are being used for. Without the seams to call attention to these interactions, we can’t be fully aware of the choices that we’re making and their underlying impacts on us in both physical and ethical ways.

I think that all designers whether architects, graphic designers, engineers, or industrial designers etc. are interaction designers. We all have the ability to impact humanity and how people relate to, think about, and interact with the world on many different scales through our respective practices. As I stated in my first post on interaction design, “any relationship between a person, space (virtual or physical), technology, or product is interaction and has the ability to create change within a system or conversely, to be defined and guided by that system or environment.” We need to take the time to realize the power that we hold as designers in this realm. By bringing all the different design disciplines and sides together in a collaborative way we will be able to make a positive impact with the boundless range of new ideas that we are introducing into our world.

Interaction & Service Design Concepts: Principles, Perspectives & Practices

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

Tracy Potter

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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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