At Indiana University HCI/d, we offer a unique graduate experience that creates design professionals who will shape the future of design. Our graduates make an impact immediately and quickly grow into the design leaders of the next generation. Thus, instead of preparing students for the next year in design, we prepare them for a productive lifetime of design leadership.
IU’s HCI/d program was the first in the U.S. to emphasize design as an equal partner to HCI. The original vision, updated to reflect today’s technologies and trends, has been crafted to lay the groundwork for students to grow rapidly into sought after design leaders.
What is HCI/d?
HCI stands for Human Computer Interaction. It is the scientific field that studies how humans interact with computers. The D stands for design. Designers seek to change problematic situations into more desirable ones.
Our program recognizes that HCI and design have two different histories, and yet we see the two as joining forces. In HCI/d, we have been pushing this convergence over the nearly 20 years of our program’s history.
In our teaching as well as research, HCI/d faculty are helping to create a discipline of interaction design that is informed both by rigorous science and traditions of aesthetic crafting. At its best, this emerging discipline is capable of envisioning and producing futures that are both desirable and unexpected.
In spite of their distinct histories, HCI and design have intermingled for decades, with more aesthetic and studio-based practices influencing technical labs and vice-versa. We are accelerating this two-way relationship. As a result, HCI/d blends social science, creativity, and technology.
Putting HCI and D Together
Putting HCI and Design together means an exploration of HCI and D’s respective affinities.
Both HCI and design share a commitment to people: people’s use of systems, skilled practices, breakdowns, tastes and styles, and lived experiences. All of this has led to one of the cooperative achievements of HCI and Design: UX as a topic, and a body of theories and design methods to support it. All of this has shifted the focus from designing interfaces to designing for experiences.
Similarly, both HCI and design, for example, build things iteratively. Both begin with throwaway sketches and descriptions, and proceed through rapid prototyping, towards increasingly sophisticated prototypes and models. Both use different evaluation methods—design critiques, heuristic evaluations, cognitive walkthroughs, formal usability tests—at different stages to guide development moving forward.
Another aspect of HCI and design practice is the need to communicate effectively with stakeholders. This includes communicating designs as outcomes of good design processes. Committing to a design is often a tremendous financial risk—what if it breaks or is unreliable, is unattractive, has no clear purpose, or simply replicates what is already available? What if no one wants it?
HCI/designers need to persuade organizations that their design proposals are technically possible, economically viable, and desirable. This means persuading others that the design is good, and that means much more than showing some attractive images or a video. It also means convincing others that the process that led to it was sound and trustworthy. Sometimes, a designer will have an hour to present and defend a design proposal, and other times it could be as little as 30 seconds! Decisionmakers sometimes are designers, but often they include engineers, business strategists, product managers, and stakeholders.
Vision. HCI/d is about introducing change. That is, we introduce new technologies, products, processes, services, and experiences into organizations and everyday life. As such, it is a creative field. Our curriculum reflects that. Many of the courses are project-driven; students will not, for the most part, sit in chairs and read about design. Students will do design. Every semester, for example, students will have a design studio course, where they will work hands-on with real design problems working closely with our world class HCI/d faculty.
How do our students work?
Students going through our two year Master’s program come out with a well-rounded design education with an understanding of theory and practice and how they interact. Our students are recognized at major international conferences, such as CHI, the biggest conference in our field. Our students regularly compete in, and win or place in international design competitions, including CHI, HRI, and others.
At Indiana University HCI/d, we are preparing our designers to make an impact the day they graduate, while setting them up to lead the next generation of leaders.
Won’t you join us and shape the future of design?