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History of Interaction Design


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I gave this presentation at IDSA 2005 in Washington, D.C. It's my take on the very long history of IxD.

Published in: Spiritual, Technology
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History of Interaction Design

  1. 1. Interaction Design: a History David Heller Synaptic Burn IDSA National Conference 27 August 2005
  2. 2. Background of Presentation <ul><li>This presentation was 1 part of a 3 hr. seminar given by both David Heller and Robert Reimann on August 27, 2005 at the IDSA 2005 National Conference: re-Action in Washington, D.C. </li></ul><ul><li>Robert’s portion of this seminar is available for all who wish to purchase About Face 2.0 co-authored by Alan Cooper and Robert Reimann. </li></ul><ul><li>Robert Reimann is the Manager of the User Interface Design and Research Group at Bose Corporation ( </li></ul>
  3. 3. Why & What of IxD
  4. 4. Too many digital products are hard to use
  5. 5. A new “medium”, a new kind of design <ul><li>Interactive digital products require and respond to human input, and change their own content or behavior based on that input. </li></ul><ul><li>Form, behavior , and content must all be defined. </li></ul><ul><li>Traditional design disciplines do not have methods that address complex behavior. </li></ul><ul><li>Non-design disciplines are not geared toward generating desirable solutions. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Multiple design disciplines define a digital product <ul><li>Industrial design </li></ul><ul><li>Hardware form, aesthetics, and ergonomics </li></ul><ul><li>Visual design </li></ul><ul><li>Color, typography, and layout of images/transitions </li></ul><ul><li>Information design </li></ul><ul><li>Clear communication of concepts or data </li></ul><ul><li>Interaction design </li></ul><ul><li>Defines the behavior of a product; also concerned with form and content as they relate to system behavior and user input </li></ul>
  7. 7. Interaction Design (IxD): A definition <ul><li>A design discipline dedicated to: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Defining the behavior of artifacts, environments, and systems (i.e., products ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>… and therefore concerned with: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Anticipating how use of the products will mediate human relationships and affect human understanding </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Guiding the form of products to the extent that it influences/is influenced by their behavior and use </li></ul></ul>The Interaction Design Group’s (IxDG) definition of IxD can be found at This definition was conceived by Robert Reimann and Jodi Forlizzi
  8. 8. Good (interaction) design is: <ul><li>Ethical </li></ul><ul><li>It does no harm, and hopefully improves situations. </li></ul><ul><li>Purposeful </li></ul><ul><li>It helps people accomplish goals. </li></ul><ul><li>It is appropriate to the user’s context. </li></ul><ul><li>Pragmatic </li></ul><ul><li>It achieves business goals and fits within constraints. </li></ul><ul><li>Elegant </li></ul><ul><li>It provides the simplest complete solution. </li></ul><ul><li>It engages the emotions appropriately. </li></ul>
  9. 9. A Brief History of Interaction Design
  10. 10. Moving towards complexity – Human-powered Single-part Tools Multi-part Tools Mechanical motion
  11. 11. Moving towards complexity – Animals, Water, Fire Animals Water Fuel
  12. 12. Moving towards complexity – ELECTRICITY Sensory Feedback Human Intervention Real-time Feedback Input /Output
  13. 13. Moving towards complexity – computation/virtualization Analog / Mechanical Digital (buttons) Virtual/Metaphor
  14. 14. Moving toward complexity – software in tools Refrigerator ??? Auto Phone
  15. 15. From complexity to simplicity – multi-channel and embedded Passive & embedded future iPod + iTunes > Shuffle
  16. 16. Mediating the social experience <ul><li>Simple point to point communication </li></ul><ul><ul><li>E-mail </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Instant Messaging & SMS </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>VoIP / conferencing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Video conferencing </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Mediated interactions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Online Gaming (role playing) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Everquest by Sony </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Folksonomy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mobile phones w/ GPS + bluetooth </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Marc Rettig’s progression – our creation understanding © Marc Rettig 2004.
  18. 18. Merging of concepts – creates research-based empathetic design practice <ul><li>Architecture / Design </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Form and function need to create a balance. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This marriage happens through intentionality – i.e. design </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Human Factors (ergonomics + cognitive psychology) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Military created the field of human factors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Understanding human limits of mind and body </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Clinical observation and evaluation of ideas </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Spawned Human Computer Interaction ( HCI ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Just the virtual, focus on the cognitive and on software . </li></ul></ul></ul>
  19. 19. More merging <ul><li>Information Design/Architecture </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Richard Saul Wurman illuminates the idea that graphic design + writing needs to merge; bring purpose to book design. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Data > Information > Knowledge > Wisdom </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Context, and re-evaluation of use over time. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Edward Tufte: Envisioning Information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Software Design Manifesto </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mitch Kapor outlines the need for software to be designed, not just engineered. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Firmness, commodity and delight </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Bring on the Web as catalyst <ul><li>IxD existed before the web …. But! </li></ul><ul><li>Web brought previously disconnected forces together </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Information Technology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Graphic, broadcast, game and multimedia design </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Computer Science including HCI/Human Factors -- usability </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Publishing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Advertising </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Broadcasting </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Marketing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Strategic Design </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. War of the titles <ul><li>Producer </li></ul><ul><li>Interactive Designer </li></ul><ul><li>Information Architect </li></ul><ul><li>User Interface Designer </li></ul><ul><li>Usability Engineer </li></ul><ul><li>Web Designer </li></ul><ul><li>GUI Specialist </li></ul>User Experience Designer Content Producer Interactive Producer GUI Engineer Product Designer HCI Expert Interaction Designer No one and everyone fit these titles and so everyone felt like they fit the role being described for the job.
  22. 22. <ul><li>IxDG website & </li></ul><ul><li>Alan Cooper/Robert Reimann About Face 2.0 </li></ul><ul><li>Boxes and Arrows </li></ul><ul><li>Don Norman Emotional Design </li></ul><ul><li>Design of Everyday Things </li></ul><ul><li>Christopher Alexander A Timeless Way of Building: A Pattern Language </li></ul><ul><li>Kevin Mullet and Darrell Sano Designing Visual Interfaces </li></ul><ul><li>Scott McCloud Understanding Comics </li></ul><ul><li>Edward Tufte Visual Display of Quantitative Information </li></ul><ul><li>Envisioning Information </li></ul><ul><li>Visual Explanations </li></ul><ul><li>Marc Rettig </li></ul><ul><li>Luke Wroblewski </li></ul><ul><li>William McDonough Digital Ground </li></ul>Some Resources