The field of interactive design once only required someone had working knowledge of the “web”. They were called “web designers” and you often heard of someone’s nephew or neice willing to do it for drinking money. Now, true interactive design requires a level of focus that few truly master. Thinking about it, I don’t think you can ever really master interactive design. Consider the following:
First, there are platforms for which an interactive design must consider web, mobile, desktop, and consumer electronics. Each of these platforms have numerous specialities (apple vs windows, PDA vs windows mobile) and even input mediums (tablet vs screen). And I’m not even going to talk about emerging technologies such as robotics and wearables. Each platform could require it’s own full-time focus and position to master, but most interactive designers must be at least aware of the pros and cons of each.
Once you select a platform, you now have to consider your toolset. High fidelity tools such as Creative Suite for graphic design and illustration. Lower fidelty site planning tools for information architecture such as Visio and Omnigraffle. And that is just the software side of tools. Low-fidelity research tools such as paper prototyping, listening labs, and user forums require a non-technical communication skillsets.
So you have the platforms covered? Check. The tools, both software and offline? Check. Ok, now you can’t forget that interactive design requires you keep up to date with the most recent technologies. You have to attend conferences and training sessions, subscribe to RSS feeds, trade journals, and books galore. Just when does an interactive designer have time to well, design?
If you find out the answer to that, please let me know.
Filed under: Emerging Technology, Information Architecture, Usability, User Experience