On the Ixd Discussion List at the moment there’s a discussion being held about the difference between the role of the interaction designer (often written as IxD or IaD) and usability specialist.
In a nutshell, the interaction designer will design user interface behaviours and user interactions on a site, hopefully based on previous research that’s been conducted. The usability specialist conducts research that informs and evaluates these decisions from a user perspective, throughout the development of a site or system.
Many interaction designers will argue that it’s an essential skill to have experience in user research and general usability principals. This seems logical to me. What doesn’t seem logical to me is this: conducting user-based evaluations (or other usability testing) of your own designs.
Is it possible to mark your own exam without influence from business requirements, client pressures and ego? I think it takes a very strong character to do so and I also think there’s something to be said for independent evaluations. Personally I’m not convinced that it’s the ideal way to develop with true user focus, but it seems to be happening out there a bit.
What are your thoughts and experiences?