Industrial Design and User INterface Design

I am a high school senior and was wondering that if my goal was to work at a place like Apple for ID, is UID the kind of things like how you interact with whats on the screen of the computer or the new iphone? would it be beneficial to go to a school like Carnegie Mellon that offers both ID and user interface design? Syracuse University has ID and interaction design. Are User interface design and interaction design related?

Even though UI and ID are often taught and still frequently practised in separate departments, I am convinced that today UI and ID cannot be separated.

If we consider experience design a domain of ID, UI is certainly a critical part of product experience.

So I would look for programs that take a holistic approach to ID including UI and which connect with outside disciplines such as cognitive psychology, cultural anthropology, evelutionary biology/psychology, neurosciences etc.

Forget about programs that pretend these areas could be separated. Or that make you believe that these are exclusively artistic activities.


From an education standpoint, the underlying issues of Design are very similar, and you would get a great (and very usable) education by studying ID and applying it to interface design. Many people come to the field this way. Most, however, later specialize in Interface Design via a master’s program. Interface Design can be very esoteric - more like computer programming than industrial design.

From a professional standpoint, many job specifictions ask for specific (usually master’s) degrees in Interaction Design or HCI, and most of the people I work with have them.

I honestly believe that if you want to work at Apple, specifically, you’d have a much higher probability to do so based on the Interface Design approach. Having left Apple just a couple of years back, the Industrial Design group is extremely small. I’m not saying it isn’t possible, but there are many more opportunities at Apple to work in UI.

At the end of the day, though, you should pick the field you have the most talent and drive for… Explore in college. I’m willing to bet that if you got a degree in ID, by the time you were ready to intern or go out into the work world, the landscape will have changed, and perhaps even be a bit more defined.

I talk to a lot of people who want to work at Apple as ID’ers, and that’s a great thing. But the reality is that a very very very small fraction of people will. That’s no reason not to try - but don’t constrain yourself to that goal. There are a lot of great companies, and they’re all watching Apple’s success.

You should talk to some people who do Interaction Design, and some people who do Industrial Design… ask them what they do every day…

Good luck!