Wednesday, July 06, 2005

ethnography of product designers

Today, Kord, Haven and I were supposed to go to Fanueil Hall to do a little urban ethnography of smokers. First we had to stop by the office of the product designers who had contracted us, and we ended up spending all of our allotted time in a meeting with them, going to lunch with them, etc, so we did not get to do any urban ethnography.

Never one to not make lemonade out of lemons, I have written an ethnography of product designers (caveat about qualitative results):

1. Product designers don't know whether there has been conclusive proof that the giant squid exists.
2. Interaction designers could totally beat product designers at tug-of-war.
3. Product designers have cool stuff lying around their offices, but they don't refrigerator their bottles of champagne, which to me smacks of insecurity.
4. "Which to me" is probably not a phrase that ought to be used in ethnography.
5. Partners in product design companies are sexy but wear such beautiful, well-cut, dark orange shirts that I could never date them.
6. Oddly, product designers are more worried about interference protocol (what you say when you stop someone and demand to know what they're doing) than interaction designers.
7. Product designers are way more fashionable than interaction designers.
8. All designers wear weird shoes. These shoes may feature alien-like colors, weird materials, worrying wraps and ties, or a combination of these things.
9. Product designers profess to know a lot about moose(s).
10. Interaction designers are dorkier and cooler than product designers.
11. Product designers will consider impromptu experiments that could set things on fire until the beta-product-designer advises against it.
13. No girls are product designers.
14. Many product designers date men.

There. I'm sure you found that riveting. Also, I learned that in Italian, the word for J is "i-lungha", or "long i," which is excellent.


Blogger dave said...

Um, so if product designers design products just what is it that interaction designers design? I'm bothered by the possibility that my interactions with others have been designed for me, even when these others are objects and not people.

Aren't I my own interaction designer? Am I ready for one of those rude awakenings?

2:10 PM  
Anonymous Ashley said...

Do designer consignment shops feature product designers, or interaction designers?

7:56 PM  
Blogger j. ondioline said...

Thank you Ashley, for pointing out that I've mentioned the word "designer" in consecutive posts, which I maintain is a byproduct of living in 2004. You know? Everyone's a designer. Design, design, design. All you hear about.

Interaction designers usually conduct the research and make the recommendations that product designers keep in mind as they do their thing. You may or may not find this site interesting:

I kind of have a big crush on information/interaction design because it's, well, last week we had to create this report for this very complicated research/analysis/recommendations project. I worked on an outline over the weekend; it was 7 pages, tremendously complicated, and I tried my best to make it comprehensible and narrativey and able to be skimmed and read in depth and all the rest of it. Then I got in, and the information designers had also taken a crack at it, and they'd produced these 11x17 landcape-oriented drawings of things written inside circles with lines connecting them, etc. And it was perfect - elegant and efficient, and able to show relationships visually that would have been torture to describe verbally. The report ended up using relatively few words placed in very well thought out places on the page. I'm not describing this well. Anyway, I'm beginning to see how much bigger communication is than just words. And Catapult is getting to me - the other day I was taking notes at a meeting and I instinctively turned the page landscape. I haven't yet started drawing the circles with lines, though.

Anyway - I'm gleeful because I've lucked into doing 2 internships at once, apparently - my time is split between the content and the research teams. And I'm looking into communication design programs (but not at CMU).

11:23 PM  
Blogger j. ondioline said...

Can I really still be writing 2004?

10:09 AM  

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