I am Xiang [shi-ong] — or just Lisa — and this is what IxD means to me.

I am your quintessential third culture child. I grew up amongst different cultures and have so far made home in 13 dwellings, within 10 cities across the globe in China, Canada, USA, and Germany. I received my B.S. in Industrial Design from the University of Cincinnati and have worked as an Industrial Designer at both a corporate environment as well as a consultancy. During my exchange program in Germany, I was introduced to Interaction Design through a collaborative project with Deutsch Telekom focusing on user experience. I was fascinated. Since then, I have both freelanced and worked full time at two different cloud based software start-up companies as an UI Designer. Through my experiences as both an Industrial Designer and UI Designer, I have discovered that my passion lies within observing, analyzing, and fostering interaction between people and their surroundings beyond just one type of design medium.

After getting admitted to CMU’s MDes program, everyone — including some of my designer friends — asked me what Interaction Design was. The answer I came up with on-the-fly was it being a concoction of part Industrial Design, Graphic Design and Computer Science.

To delve a bit deeper, I believe Interaction Design transcends beyond just a type of design medium. It facilitates conversations between people and their surroundings. It need not be limited to the digital realm even though this was the product category that brought it into popularity. It, for the most part, remains invisible because it is about designing for behavior. Therefore, I believe it is an Interaction Designer’s job to observe behavior and in response, create a more purposeful/directed end-user experience through eliminating possibilities for errors/roadblocks.

A recent example of Interaction Design I observed was at an Apple Store. After I arrived at the store for a genius bar appointment, the worker with the iPad now not only marked me as being present but also made selection within the check-in app about my outfit. This new addition to the app most likely came about because Geniuses were having difficulties identifying their assigned customer within the chaotic store. Instinctively when they are going about the search, they are extrapolating and making assumptions about the particular client based only on his/her name. In my case, I used my Chinese name which provided very little additional information since it revealed nothing about my gender and I was possibly one of a dozen Asians at the table in a Los Angeles store. It would have been a long shot for the Genius to be able to find me on the first attempt. However with the addition of the outfit selector, the Genius was able to quickly and most efficiently locate me. It eliminated much of the guess work for the Genius as well as creating a smoother customer experience for me, the customer, since it was less likely for a Genius to go to the wrong person.

In any case, I believe Interaction Design is more about the invisible conversations that occur within a system rather than just human playing in digital spaces.