23 May 2007

The power of context in interaction

The business publications are still quite enamored with design in spite of what Bruce Nussbaum says… and the obsession will only continue to grow. So let me set the stage. In the minds of many, interaction and context (if they have heard of it) are the domain of designers working on web sites, web 2.0, and software applications. Experience is this fuzzy feel good thing that most businesses don’t really get (even thought they go on and on about it.) But everyone else that call themselves a designer… they just make stuff the way they know it should be.

About the time that applications find their place on mobile – and I mean in a workable and successful way – business will start to get it. They will see why their desktop aps do not work on a portable hand held device. They will get that the application is all about context and how the use interacts with it. It has little to do with features and capabilities - it has everything to do with leadership and flexibility.

Interaction (or experience) design is bursting from the seams of its genesis. Traditional definitions such as human factors, human computer interface, and information architecture no longer hold. Hr professionals and recruiters have no idea what to call us, what makes us qualified, and how to match us with a reasonable ob title. That is cool!

SIG-CHI, UPA, the ISDA, and AIGA are all fighting for a piece of the turf… but I would not bet on any of these groups. Even the IAI and IxDA are not looking likely to hold the ownership. The problem is that what currently separates IxD (interaction) designers form other designers is not the medium they work in. It is the added value of considering context, interactions and the user. I hope that every design out there is soon calling themselves and interaction designer whether they are working on a web site or a T-shirt graphic. Context and interaction should be ubiquitous concerns.