User Interface Design(er)

Everytime I have to introduce myself my mind goes blank.

Others used to call me Art Director, that really sucks. Sometimes I’m just a Graphic Designer, that is not really what I’m doing in my day by day. Definitely I’m not a coooool artist with superfluous designs. My work is so focused on user-centered design … doh! I get a little bit mixed-up.

User-Centered Graphic Designer should be a good term, but is too long to use on a business card. So I ask myself: Are we just User Interface Designer or not? Let’s check out what Wikipedia has to say:

Where traditional graphic design seeks to make the object or application physically attractive, the goal of user interface design is to make the user’s interaction as simple and efficient as possible, in terms of accomplishing user goals—what is often called user-centered design. Where good graphic/industrial design is bold and eye catching, good user interface design is to facilitate finishing the task at hand over drawing unnecessary attention to itself. Graphic design may be utilized to apply a theme or style to the interface without compromising its usability.

Wow! That’s really what I do everyday at work!

But Wait! You, HCI people, must be shouting out “No, Not really!”.
Traditionally User Interface Designer is a title used for HCI (Human-Computer Interaction) people but take a look again at what wikipedia has to say about Interaction Design:

Interaction Design (IxD) is the discipline of defining the behavior of products and systems that a user can interact with. The practice typically centers around complex technology systems such as software, mobile devices, and other electronic devices. However, it can also apply to other types of products and services, and even organizations themselves. Interaction design defines the behavior (the “interaction”) of an artifact or system in response to its users.

So, according to both definitions:

  • Should we declare an User Interface Designer as an hybrid between traditional graphic design and interaction design?
  • Should be User Interface Design an exclusive term for HCI people?

Finally, what the hell should I write in my business card?
I’m waiting for your comments, that’s the idea ;)

12 thoughts on “User Interface Design(er)

  1. Jorge CorreaNo Gravatar Post author

    @agustín Hahahaha. “Show me the money and shut up, you dump bastard!” :D

    @Javier Of course, my business cards will never show a work title. I was just wondering. Good point.

  2. Ale MuñozNo Gravatar

    The Oxford Dictionary defines “designer” as:

    “A person who plans the form, look, or workings of something before its being made or built, typically by drawing it in detail”

    I’d say it’s pretty clear that whatever it is what we do, it falls under the “design” category.

    Of course, “design” is too broad a concept. There are a few renaissance men out there who you could call just “designer”, but the rest of us mere mortals usually add some “adjective” to “Design”, and thus we are a “Fashion Designer”, “Graphic Designer”, “Industrial Designer”…

    The problem is actually finding out what it is that we do. Our profession includes so many disciplines that we have to either have a really long surname (“Graphic Interaction Web Multimedia Experience Etc Designer”) or come up with a unique surname for what we do.

    A word that I think suits pretty well what we do is “Interface”:

    “A point where two systems, subjects, organizations, etc., meet and interact”

    I’d say what we do is “Interface Design”.

    You could argue whether “Interface” includes behaviour, interaction, experience… but at the end of the day it all comes down to this:

    “What is the output of your work?”

    If it is an interface, then you are an “Interfacer” and your work process is not really important for your job title.

    Think about this question in other professions: a person that works with metal and a gas torch is called a “welder”, because the output of his work is a “weld”. You don’t really care what’s “inside” his profession, so you don’t find “High Temperature Bonding Specialists” on the Yellow Pages…

    Now, if you ask me what I would like to have on my business card, that would be Interface Deviser :)

    (Devise: plan or invent (a complex procedure, system, or mechanism) by careful thought)

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  4. albertofsNo Gravatar

    The problem: User interface designer sounds better in english, but in spanish we usually use Diseñador de interacción (Interaction designer) because the translation of User Interface designer in spanish sucks: Diseñador de interfaces de usuario.
    The solution, maybe?: use first one in english and Diseñador de interacción in spanish.
    But i don´t think that it´s been a elegant soluction.
    PD. My english sucks, i know, sorry.

  5. Paco PepeNo Gravatar

    ¿por qué todos os comunicáis en inglés si para todos vosotros el español es vuestra lengua nativa?

    y sobre lo del título… ¿de verdad lo necesitas?… y, sobre todo, ¿de verdad crees que importa?… creo que el título de tu tarjeta debería poner: “currito de internet”.

    …probablemente sea lo que entienda la mayor parte de la gente.

    por cierto, mi español apesta. Sorry

  6. Jorge CorreaNo Gravatar Post author

    @Paco Pepe … and why not?

    your email use the domain, which is mainly in english … hmm? Why not just in euskera?

    Your spanish is ok, keep on trying! ;)

  7. Paco PepeNo Gravatar is multi-language…

    whatever, i think “web producer” is a good title for your business card…. maybe it’s more than a professional title, is(n’t) it? ;)

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