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What other disciplines does Interaction Design overlap with?

A diagram by Dan Saffer depciting what he thinks interaction design consists of

I think this diagram very well describes the other disciplines interaction design overlaps with.

From page 17 of Dan Saffer’s book, Designing for Interaction: Creating Smart Applications and Clever Devices

As you can see, most of the disciplines fall at least partially under the umbrella of user-experience design, the discipline of looking at all aspects of visual design, interaction design, sound design, and so on of the user’s encounter with a product or service and making sure they are in harmony.

Information architecture is concerned with the structure of content: how to best structure and label content so that users find the information they need. Yahoo, with its dozens of labeled and categorized content areas, offers an excellent illustration of information architecture.
Communication design is about creating a visual language to communicate content. The fonts, colors, and layout of Web sites and printed materials like this book provide examples of communication design.
Industrial design is about formshaping objects in a way that communicates their use while also making them functional. Physical objects like chairs, tables, and refrigerators illustrate industrial design.
Human factors makes sure those objects conform to the limitations of the human body, both physically and psychologically.
Human-computer interaction is closely related to interaction design, but its methods are more quantitative, and its focus (as its name implies) is strongly on how humans relate to computers, unlike interaction design, which is about how humans relate to each other. The operating system on your computer provides an example of HCI.
User-interface engineering is a subset of interaction design and HCI; it focuses on the controls of a digital device (see Chapter 6). Your digital camera’s display is an example of UIE.
Usability engineering is about testing products to make sure they make sense to users.

It’s easy to see why people are confused!

Diagram via Ebacon.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with the overlaps and containments? Or do you think otherwise?

  • Josef Go-Oco

    I have to agree.
    It’s saddening that the interfaces we utilize at our school are extremely inhumane. Though I may not be a student of interaction design, I’ve read articles and educated myself quite a bit. I wish to have the people who design – no, do the interfaces – be educated with user science.

  • Abhay Rautela (Cone Trees)

    A very interesting diagram, Dan.

    I feel that the exclusion of mechanical and electrical engineering would be nice since this diagram is already tougher to absorb than the earlier one (which was easy to focus upon)with the inclusion of more disciplines in it.

  • Abhay Rautela (Cone Trees)

    That’s correct Joseph. As Jef Raskin, author of the book ‘The Humane Interface’ says, “An interface is humane if it is responsive to human needs and considerate of human frailties”.

    While usability for software and websites/ applications is slowly improving, the humane aspect (in the areas appropriate) is still far behind. But I believe once usability engineering or user centered design is well integrated in most organizations’ development life cycles, then the human aspect is what will be looked at more closely (its already being taken into consideration by many big dot coms, no doubt).

    If you haven’t read the book, you should really find it interesting to skim over. Here’s the Google books link in case you’re interested, The Humane Interface.

  • Josef Go-Oco

    I’ve been wanting it for a year now, ever since I visited humanized.com. Although being a student, I don’t have an amount right now, and even our library doesn’t have it.

  • Abhay Rautela (Cone Trees)

    Josef, check out the Google books link I have provided above. You can read most of the book at this link with a few omissions here and there. In general, Google books is great if you’re a student (I used it a lot when I was one), since you can check out loads of books for free there. And there is a ‘lot’ of stuff available there. You’ve even got a lot of complete books there. It’s a great resource.