Dispatches from DUX2005

I thought this might be encouraging for anyone considering getting in to interaction design / user experience, its a good time to be a UXer is a shot of the job boards at DUX 2005 in San Francisco.

Also interesting are the board statistics right here on Core77:

Footwear: 1761 posts
Interaction Design: 188 posts

That’s 1 in 10 designers who have something to say about interaction/experience design overall vs. footwear design.

As an ID’er turned UX’er I’d say there is common ground but its not a straight forward move from the ID to the User Experience world. You need to be mindful that some unenlightened companies believe that UXers must have a degree in psychology and have a deep love of stats (That said both are very useful if you have them). Its changing but psychologists still occupy team lead / hiring positions in these firms and can have a dim view of IDers - regarded as pencil jockeys.

A masters degree in a human factors related subject helps to facilitate the leap across professions but make sure its the direction you want to go first. Then you just need to decide if you want to call yourself a UX’er, Interaction designer, User Centred Designer, Usability professional, Human Factors professional …etc etc :wink:

“Design is at the crossroads. Design is going to be owned by the profession that understands people. Designers need to redirect their focus, from products to people, or forfeit their right to control design.”
–Dan Formosa, PhD, SmartDesign

Well said, CG.

Nice quote, couldn’t agree more - just noting many psychologists feel they have cornered the market on understanding people and pigeon hole designers as purely obsessed with aesthetics. Psychologists understanding tends to be very dry… an ID background (coupled with some knowledge of psychology) tends to yield a more applied understanding of users.

… hiring positions in these firms and can have a dim view of IDers - regarded as pencil jockeys.

…just noting many psychologists feel they have cornered the market on understanding people and pigeon hole designers as purely obsessed with aesthetics.

That hasn’t really been my experience, but it’s unfortunate if you’ve run in to that. I’ve often been surprised how many other IxD, UX, UI, etc. designers I meet that have some kind of Industrial Design background, and can think of a couple significant companies in particular that seem to regularly bring ID people in to UX positions.

On the other hand, while I see more and more ID people at interaction conferences or in the industry, its still not enough. I remember several years ago hearing a german professor speaking about Interaction/Software design and how this domain was ripe for Industrial Design to make its mark there, as the ID design process translates very well to IxD and software problems. That doesn’t seem to have happened as many might have predicted. I think much of the difficulty doesnt come from Psychologists keeping us out, but from the seductiveness of objects. Many Industrial Designers, and the schools that raised them, still have difficulty with the idea of Industrial Designers not working with physical objects. I myself have struggled with this on occasion (i.e. “am I still and industrial designer if I’m designing software?”). More shocking to me than the odd Psychologist that doesnt understand Industrial Design are the Industrial Designers that still seem to understand Interaction design as being web site design.

As for these Psychologists to which you refer, while they may have an advantage of understanding human behaviour in depth, you have the advantage of using that knowledge to create solutions and delivering true ROI to a company’s bottom line. Neither of us need a monopoly over IxD however: ideally, a UX group in any company should be truly multidisciplinary.

As for education, I would definitely recommend returning to school for some kind of human factors/interaction degree (that has worked for me). Alternatively, if you align yourself as a real human-centered designer that can balance the aesthetic imperative with usability/ergonomics and consumer understanding, you might be able to find a company with a well-established UX group that would be willing to train you. With the piles of job postings from companies like Yahoo!, Microsoft, Apple, and Motorola at DUX, thats very likely.

Actually I already have a masters degree in HF and work for a large multinational in one of the UCD teams, so I can see both sides of the fence :slight_smile:. While I am the only team member with an ID background, my skills are very welcomed and valued (but having a HF masters opened many doors); the experience to which I refer is consultancies that keep their ID teams and UX team very separate - prefering to recruit psychology grads for the UX team.

right, sorry. lets go with “you” in the more general sense of anyone reading this and interested in getting in to IxD, UE, UX, HF, UI…

I guess this is slightly off topic, but where did all of you get your degrees in Human Factors, Ergonomics, etc from? Any reccomendations on schools/programs or warnings for that matter?

I am currently finishing up an engineering degree in the Boston area with a few years of consumer/medical/industrial product design experience under my belt. I have a passion for Human Factors and user centered deisgn so I am looking to move into the Human Factors side of things academically for now, and any advice would be greatly appreciated.

I work in N. America but I’m from the UK so my educational experience is very UK centric. The masters course I took at Birmingham no longer runs but the Masters at Loughborough is held in very high regards and gets numerous international students. Another (more expensive - but potentially more fun) option might be to check out the interaction design course at the Royal College of Art in London.

I would also recommend checking the RCA program. I have difficulty considering it to be a truly human centered design program, though it is of course very progressive in other respects. They have some excellent professors there, and having the Hellen Hamlyn Inclusive Design Research Center there likely provides a good counter-balance to the more artistic explorations of interaction that is common within the program.

If you are interested in a software usability oriented program, I would definitely recommend Carnegie Mellon.

Myself, I have an Interaction Design masters degree from the umea institute of design in sweden. It is a very industrial design oriented approach to interaction design, which is what attracted me to the program. It is much more product-based (i.e.physical) relative to CMU, and has an approach that is often more pragmatic than RCA.

Ivrea was of course also interesting before it joined Domus. It’s hard to say what will happen to that program now. IIT in Chicago is a very good school for Human-Centered Industrial Design, and RISD is really starting to do some nice interaction work between their industrial design and digital media courses. ITP in New York does great web/network projects and tangible computing projects, but are often conceptual and have very little industrial design influence.

I’m afraid i’m little help when it comes to recommending schools for ‘hard-core’ Ergonomics.

Thanks for your responses Canadian ID and ID-UXer. I am definately going to check out your suggestions and look into the programs a little bit deeper.

I am pretty sure that I want to do more research on the “product/ physical” side of things as opposed to electronics user interface or software/web usability work. Anyone have suggestions of programs that focus on that in the US, besides IIT? Also, how did you all pay for these programs? It seems like scholarships and research / teaching assistant positions are few an far between - kind of the opposite of a field like mechanical engineering.

Umea is free, so costs weren’t as much an issue as they would have been if I had gone to a school in the U.S.

Like you mentioned, teaching positions are often rare in design schools, but I have heard of it (at IIT for example).

Umea is free?

there is no tuition, so yes