The Beginning of Interaction Design

The Beginning of Interaction Design

In 1984 (the year I was born:), Bill Moggridge gave his first presentation on what we know today as, Interaction Design, except at that point the discipline didn’t exist yet.

In the early 80’s there were computer scientists who had a very technical and performance-based vision of design. Then there were also human factors specialists who had backgrounds in psychology and was trained to test prototyped designs. These specialists did a great job in generating incremental improvements, but it didn’t encourage radical innovation.

It was with this realisation that Bill felt there was an opportunity to create a new design discipline, Interaction Design, a discipline that, as Bill described it, “would be concerned with subjective and qualitative values, would start from the needs and desires of the people who use a product or service, and strive to create designs that would give aesthetic pleasure as well as lasting satisfaction and enjoyment.”

There’s a rather funny part to this story in that it wasn’t always called Interaction Design (or IxD for that matter).

At the time he called it “Soft-face”, a combination between software and user interface design. One day one of his friends pointed out that Soft-face sounded like a description of the Cabbage Patch Dolls, a popular stuffed doll of the time, with chubby cheeks, but not so much of a design discipline.

Bill recalls, “so we went on thinking of possible names until I eventually settled on ‘interaction design’ with the help of Bill Verplank”.

And that was the beginning of Interaction Design — a discipline that would be concerned with the needs and desires of the people who use a product.

Quoted from Bill Moggridge’s book, Designing Interactions.

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