Over recent years, the word â€˜designâ€™ has be degraded for commercial means to attract the consumers taste for luxury goods. No longer is â€˜designâ€™ the bespoke result of a problem solving activity, but a naff Linda Barker sofa from DFS.
Of course, being a designer isnâ€™t just about adding commercial value to products, thatâ€™s a convenient by-product of good design. Being a designer is about socially engineering items to be efficient, functional and appealing to its audience.
Interactive design has evolved over the years to a state where people are actually given the title â€˜interactive designerâ€™; but what does this mean and what do they do?
For some time Iâ€™ve seen a number of designers struggle with this very concept. For interactive designers arriving from a print or coding background, its easy to continue solving design problems with the skills set you already have.
This is fine, if the solution you arrive at requires a simple â€˜lick of paintâ€™ or some new CSS styles â€“ thatâ€™s an iterative modification. Design however, is something much more fundamental.
To me, interactive design is about considering a project in its entirety and not its splinter elements - that is simply fire fighting. Designers do more than put out fires, they look at why the fires were started in the first place.
I recently heard about an agency who has a number of â€˜UX guysâ€™ â€œwho do the personaâ€™s, scenarios and stuffâ€. I think this is a worrying trend. Taking the research element away from the designers decreases the involvement in the vital activities that make for good design. In my view itâ€™s imperative that designers evolve their passion and conviction for a solution by conducting UCD techniques themselves.
I think interactive design is not just pushing pixels around in a PSD. Itâ€™s about understanding your product and its audience. Personaâ€™s, scenarios, wireframes, sitemaps and user testing are some of the ways designer can do this. At every stage a designer should be instinctively aware of the research and its implications on the final design. This is interactive design.