What exactly is IxD anyway? Is there a definition UX, UI, IA, Web, HCI, and Product Designers can agree on? | Coursera Community
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What exactly is IxD anyway? Is there a definition UX, UI, IA, Web, HCI, and Product Designers can agree on?

  • 15 August 2019
  • 2 replies

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Adam Dunford wrote an interesting post summarizing his thesis titled, "There's no such thing as an interaction design degree," meaning that IxD isn't yet a standardized discipline or even a codified set of principles that practitioners and instructors and researchers agree on. All of us who are learning about IxD and/or creating new ways to integrate its methods, standards and ideals into our work on websites, mobile apps, user experiences or product designs for car seats or stereos are contributing to its evolution.

And it's super diverse! To add to my earlier post on the cross-disciplinary aspect of IxD, "If Everyone's A Designer," this list by Art Center (Pasadena, CA) suggests possible career paths for those trained in IxD:

  • Information Architect (IA)
  • Interaction Designer (IxD)
  • User Experience (UX) Designer
  • User Interface (UI) Designer
  • Mobile Designer
  • Web Designer
  • Designer/Developer (front-end or back-end)
  • Content Strategist
  • Creative Director
  • Lead Designer
  • Creative Technologist
  • Design Strategist
  • Exhibition Designer
  • Service Designer
  • Producer
  • Social Media Expert
I see training in IxD as a foundation upon which new IA, UX, UI, designers etc. can build their practice. It's also a professional development option for experienced designers (or others, e.g. engineers, social workers, quality improvement professionals...) across a variety of industries who want to take their design skills (or problem-solving skills) to a higher level. To the above list, it would seem reasonable to add professions like:

Instructional Designer
City Planner
Industrial Designer
Social Service Provider
and many others.

What definition of IxD do you prefer? Is there an essential aspect of interaction design that distinguishes it from UX or UI or IA? Do we even need to define IxD across design disciplines?

2 replies

Hi @Kai Dailey,

Welcome! Thank you for sharing this information with us. 🙂

This is how I understand your field. Please correct me if this is not precise. My understanding is that while your field is very closely interrelated with UX design, it mostly focuses on the interaction part. Users' needs and goals could bear a resemblance to a manuscript written in a foreign language. I'd draw an analogy between a translator's job and an interaction designer's task. An interaction designer is expected to translate the goals into the interaction language. The interaction language has its special alphabets, techniques, and strategies. The interaction designer, as a member of the team, can do it with extreme delicacy. The translation would need to be meaningful and straightforward. An engineer colleague, for example, would use the translated piece to build the product. Therefore, it's all about collaboration or teamwork.
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@Maryam I like your use of the phrase "interaction language." IxD is often referred to as a conversation between the user and the object. Using your analogy, interaction designers discover and decode and then "translate" user languages (or the unique needs) of different user groups (e.g., region, behavior, new user, income, body-type, age, disability, lifestyle, etc.) into highly usable design. I think your analogy is really helpful. -Kai