Why Design Communication Fails

This past Tuesday the new director of the Human Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon organized a local alumni meet and greet. Part of the evening was spent discussing opportunities to update the now fifteen year old curiculum. A lot of the evening was spent simply discussing the field of interaction design.

One common thread through all the conversations I heard that evening was: what do we call ourselves? This is an interesting question as the field of interaction design embrces titles such as interaction designer, web designer, developer, user experience designer, human factors analyst, information architect and more. This disconnect between what we do and what we identify as is just the tip of the iceberg with failed design communication. The field of interaction design has grown out of a intermixing of design, psychology, and computer science. As professionals from these primary fields brand their work they adopt language from their former training and experiences.

It is here that design communication fails. With so many fields and backgrounds contributing there is no single all inclusive or correct glossary of terms. Everything is contextual an referential and sometimes built off of circular logic. Ixda.org has a recent thread offering a digital wiki would help remedy the problem at hand. I belied that us just a start to the solution.

The problem of communication does not exist within our field. Experts of all professions make their own context specific lingo and interaction design is no different. Instead there has to be a movement for a cohesive dictionary when communicating to non-designers. In order for design to be implemented there must be interest. That only comes from an undertanding of the value of design and the product offered. We as a discipline are effectively shooting ourselves in the foot by not standardizing our public face. You can argue the chicken and the egg here but I truly believe intractipn designs public face needs to be smoothed over and not the communication between practitioners.

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