Justin Li

Why isn't HCI making me a good designer?


Author's Note: This post is neither here nor there. It's probably a little too flippant, but it's Friday and I've had a couple beers.

We are roughly at the midpoint of the semester, so today I solicited anonymous feedback from my Human Computer Interaction (HCI) students. One comment I got goes something like this (paraphrased):

Why do we spend so much time on critique, and so little time on actual designing? I didn't feel like I have the skills/tools to create a good design for the assignment.

For some context, here's our rough syllabus:

I want to use this blog post to explore the surprisingly good question posed by the comment. My class ended at 10:30 this morning, and I ended up with three responses after this question bugged me the rest of the day.

Could I have spent more time on designing and less on critiquing? Yeah, probably. In my ideal world, I would meet with student teams multiple times during the biweekly design process, and provide critique on things they might change. Heck, I probably will do this in future iterations of HCI.

But I think it is a mistake to expect that enrolling in HCI will make you a good designer. HCI can give you the ideas and start you down that path, but being a good designer probably takes a lot more trial and error, and probably takes more than a semester.

To quote Adventure Time: "sucking at sumthin' is the first towards being sorta good at sumthin'."