Who Owns Design?
An article I read last year stated, “User Interface Design is a Contact Sport”. Translation: Every department involved with creating a Web site or application wants a piece of, if not control, of the entire design. As a designer engaged in Web and application interface design, I have witnessed this conflict first hand. I have also seen this passionately discussed in AIGA Forums (e.g. Topic #13: Other groups encroaching on design, published May 30th in GAIN).
Coming to the table
Like it or not, disciplines other than graphic design are holding sway over composition and layout of Web sites and applications. More and more, clients are investing major resources into corporate Web sites as a primary means of communicating their value to their customers. If designers want to bring their expertise to this rapidly expanding industry, they will have to come to the table with information architects, human factors professionals, and user experience professionals. To that end, the Philadelphia chapter of AIGA, and PhiCHI* are holding a series of discussions where members of these disciplines will come together to discuss the emerging overlapping responsibilities of their professions. The first topic on the table deals with one of the biggest areas of contention, the wireframe. For those of you who have not yet encountered them, wireframes are generally created by information architects or user experience professionals to suggest the layout and placement of fundamental design elements in the interface design.
The questions on the table
For many designers, wireframes represent a loss of control over page composition and layout, traditionally under the purview of graphic designers. So, the first question to designers in this forum is: How do you feel when you are handed a wireframe to design? Say more than “I feel _.” We would like to hear the reasons behind your feelings. What concerns you about adhering to a wireframe? A second question is: Do you have any questions that you would like to hear user experience professionals, information architects, or human factors professionals answer? Frame your question with the purpose of trying to understand their point of view. They may not have been exposed to design concepts you've long understood. Your question may be the first time they've thought about it. I urge designers reading this forum to participate in this dialog. Please respond to this post and state your case. *PhiCHI: Philadelphia local chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group on Computer Human Interaction (ACM SIGCHI)