Robert Reimann Visit

Robert Reimann, co-author of About Face 2.0 and currently the manager of User Interface Design at Bose, visited Carnegie Mellon last week for a few days, sitting in on classes and thesis meetings and giving at talk at the HCII seminar series. I got to sit in on a Q&A session and went out to lunch with and a group of interaction design students.

I jotted down some of Robert's answers to some questions that were asked by the master's students:

  • What makes a good interaction designer is someone who can take inspiration from all different areas of life. It makes sense for us to cast as broad an eye as possible in finding solutions. We're synthesizers of everything. A good interaction designer is all about finding creative solutions to human problems.
  • Nuance in interaction design is about reading between the lines in what you observe in research to make solutions.
  • Letting users decide everything [as far as personalization/customization] is abdicating design responsibility.
  • Look for places within your organization to provide design assistance. This will help forge personal relationships with people and demonstrate the usefulness of design. This is a critical part of the design role and the best designers all do it.
  • If you can solve users' top two problems in a product, you are doing really well and will be ahead of most of the competition.
  • Personas. Personas need to be based off actual user data. You need to use qualitative research methods to build personas. They are really a method of analyzing user data to understand usage behaviors and goals of actual people. The ability of personas to communicate outside the design team is very significant. The picture of the persona is a critical component that really makes the persona come alive. Personas by themselves aren't very useful. They are the end of the research process, but just the beginning of the design process. They only help translate needs into solutions. You need to do cognitive walkthroughs using the personas as your guides. Personas are a yardstick to use throughout the process to measure all design decisions against.
  • At Cooper, they found over time that there were two different types of interaction designers: interaction designers and design communicators. The two types work well in combination.

Originally posted on Monday, October 11, 2004

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